Lord Elis-Thomas: 'Loyalty question' after health vote

Dafydd Elis Thomas Lord Dafydd-Elis Thomas said he had valid reasons for his absence at the vote

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A Plaid Cymru MP says it is up to former leader Lord Elis-Thomas to decide whether he wants to remain loyal to the party in the assembly.

Jonathan Edwards was speaking after the AM did not attend a vote of no-confidence over Health Minister Lesley Griffiths and criticised the party.

The peer said he had valid reasons for his absence, but a Plaid spokesman said there was no "satisfactory reason".

The whip has temporarily been withdrawn from Lord Elis-Thomas.

Lord Elis-Thomas, the AM for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, stayed away from Cardiff Bay to preside over a graduation ceremony at Bangor University, where he is chancellor.

Start Quote

Once an individual goes against the whip and the party's policy on this matter then there will be consequences”

End Quote Jonathan Edwards MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

Before the vote in a BBC interview he accused his party of putting prejudice before evidence and in the S4C programme CF99 he went further, accusing the assembly group of acting like poodles and playing second fiddle to the Conservatives.

Ms Griffiths survived Wednesday's vote in a row about a controversial report into reorganising hospital services.

Mr Edwards, MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr and a member of Leanne Wood's Plaid Cymru leadership team, told CF99: "Once you're part of any political group you have personal responsibilities towards the group.

"Clearly, campaigning against Labour's policy of centralising health services has been a key part of Plaid Cymru's work in the assembly for the past two or three assemblies.

"And once an individual goes against the whip and the party's policy on this matter then there will be consequences."

'Disciplinary procedure'

Mr Edwards said that Lord Elis-Thomas's comments were the reason why the whip had been removed.

If Dafydd Elis-Thomas stayed away from the assembly for the no-confidence vote in Health Minister Lesley Griffiths, he had good reason because he has a role to play at Bangor University. He takes it seriously.

Had he simply stayed away, perhaps the party would not have done anything.

But once he talked to the BBC in the terms he did then he knew the party would have to act.

He stayed away with the backing of his local party and they, therefore, are sticking by him.

But there are increasing questions about whether he may be more comfortable out in the open as an independent assembly member who could vote whichever way he wanted.

On CF99, Mr Edwards said Lord Elis-Thomas was a political philosopher for whom he had great respect, adding that "he's played a huge role in creating the Wales we know and he still has a role within Plaid Cymru".

"But many people who are campaigning hard to keep their local hospital services will be very disappointed in what they've seen.

"I'm sure there'll be a disciplinary procedure now and we'll see what happens over the next few days."

Earlier, Lord Elis-Thomas gave CF99 a short statement saying he would be arguing that he had valid reasons for his absence from the vote.

He was presiding officer of the Welsh assembly for 12 years.

He was Plaid leader between 1984 and 1991 and has been an assembly member since 1999, previously serving as an MP since 1974.

In January, he was nominated by his local party to run again for the leadership but came last in the first round of voting.

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