On Tuesday four Plaid Cymru AMs boycotted the official opening of the Welsh Assembly on the grounds that their desire for an independent republic of Wales was incompatible with attending a ceremony presided over by the Queen. Strangely this idealism hasn't prevented any of the four from taking the oath of alleigence to the same Queen — a pre-requisite to taking up their positions (and, more importantly I suspect, their taxpayer-funded salaries); neither has it prevented Senior Plaid Cymru politicians such as Baron Wigley of Caernarfon or Lord Elis-Thomas from accepting life peerages from the Crown (in fact Dafydd Elis-Thomas is even a member of the Privy Council, a body which directly advises the Monarch herself).
So is Plaid Cymru really, truly for an independent Wales or not? Their latest manifesto doesn't mention the 'I' word except in relation to the 'operational independence' of S4C. Furthermore many of the party's stated policies actually make Welsh Independence less rather than more attainable. A party which was serious about seeking further devolution from the UK (as exemplified by the SNP in Scotland) would surely seek to pragmatically boost the private sector whist at the same time creating a lean, mean Welsh public sector which could be adequately funded with taxation raised within Wales's borders alone. Instead Plaid Cymru advocates ever more regulation of the struggling Welsh private sector whilst at the same time building an ever larger Welsh public sector, all funded by ever larger block grants from Westminster.
Isn't the truth that Plaid Cymru has become nothing more than a party well to the left of Labour which wraps itself in the Ddraig Goch for electoral advantage? The boycotting of the official Assembly opening is a publicity stunt designed to reassure activists and traditional supporters that Plaid Cymru really does believe in Welsh Independence, even though their every action makes it less rather than more likely.
As to Ieuan Wyn Jones's no-show on the grounds that he was "on holiday", it reminds me greatly of the contortions Gordon Brown wrapped himself in when he decided not to attend the official signing ceremony of the EU Lisbon treaty (because he didn't want to be seen to be too pro-Europe) but then did so several hours later by himself. IWJ seems to want the nationalist kudos for not attending, whilst at the same time avoiding the jeers.
UPDATE: Betsan Powys has some more on IWJ's French holiday here.