Wales politics

Plaid rebel Lord Elis-Thomas wins backing of local party

Plaid Cymru rebel Lord Elis-Thomas has won the backing of his constituency party after he missed a key Assembly vote in defiance of party leaders.

The Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency committee passed a motion stating their full support for their AM.

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths survived a motion of no-confidence over a report into hospital reorganisation.

Lord Elis-Thomas accused his party of being "lapdogs" to the Tories, and faces an inquiry into his conduct.

The peer has been suspended from the Plaid Cymru assembly group pending a party investigation.

A disciplinary panel - made up of Plaid AMs Elin Jones, Simon Thomas and Bethan Jenkins - is looking at whether further sanctions should be taken against Lord Elis-Thomas.

Party leader Leanne Wood, who beat Lord Elis-Thomas in this year's Plaid leadership election, declined to comment on the matter saying she did not want to "prejudice that process".

Opposition parties united behind a motion of no-confidence in Mrs Griffiths on Wednesday in a row about a controversial report into reorganising hospitals, amid claims that civil servants had put undue pressure on its independent author.

Mrs Griffiths survived the motion, which was defeated by 29 votes to 28.

Lord Elis-Thomas was presiding at a graduation ceremony in Bangor University in his capacity as chancellor while the vote took place.

Image caption Plaid leader Leanne Wood refused to say what action may be taken against Lord Elis-Thomas

He said he had asked permission to be absent in order to attend a ceremony he had been at every year since 2001.

But he also disagreed with his party's support for the no-confidence motion, claiming they were playing "second fiddle" to the Conservatives.

"What I do resent is the idea that I was absent without leave," he told the BBC.

"This was a contrived vote led by the Welsh Conservatives on what I think is a trivial motion.

"Had I been there the vote would not have been won by the opposition parties.

"This is playing politics by the Welsh Conservatives on health reorganisation and I don't think we should be part of it."

Lis Puw, chair of Plaid Cymru's Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency committee, confirmed that they passed a motion at a meeting on Thursday stating their full support for their AM.

She added: "The committee is also totally committed to the task of realising Plaid Cymru's ambition of moving Wales on and ensure a more and confident future for our nation.

"We believe that matters of conscience should always have priority over multi-party matters and we call on the Plaid Cymru group in the National Assembly to promote a positive agenda."

Lord Elis-Thomas, who has twice led Plaid Cymru, was defeated in this year's leadership election after claiming the party should seek to continue in coalition following Labour's narrow victory in the 2011 Assembly poll.

On the BBC Radio Wales Phone-In, First Minister Carwyn Jones was asked whether he would welcome Lord Elis-Thomas to his party.

He said: "We would welcome anybody who shared our values, there's no doubt about that and we would welcome anybody who supported the aims of a Labour Welsh government.

"We are not at that stage yet. We will have to wait to see how things develop in the battle within Plaid over the next few days."

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