Plaid Cymru 'cult of youth' row simmers

Image caption, The former party chairman says Plaid Cymru is affected by a 'cult of youth'

The former chairman of Plaid Cymru says he was told his age was a factor in a decision to ask him not to fight for an assembly seat.

John Dixon said the request was made by the party leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones in June.

A month later, Mr Dixon stood down as the party's chairman, citing unhappiness with Plaid's political direction.

The party said no candidates have been told not to stand because of age.

Mr Dixon's comments come in an online blog, responding to the row sparked by Plaid's former MP Adam Price, who stated that assembly members "lacked skills".

Writing on his personal website, Mr Dixon said: "There does seem to be something of a 'cult of youth' affecting all parties.

"I've never been convinced that's an entirely good thing."

He said he believed it was a 'cult' that affected Plaid Cymru.

"When Ieuan (Wyn Jones) told me in June that he did not want me to be a candidate for next May's Assembly elections, my age was one of the issues he raised," he stated.

"It was his view that, with Ron Davies likely to be selected in Caerffili (Caerphilly), the party simply couldn't afford to have any other old men standing as candidates where we might win, because that would send the wrong message about what sort of a party Plaid Cymru is.

"It's a valid viewpoint, but it owes more to getting the right image than the right mix of skills and experience, it seems to me."

In a new posting on his site on Friday, he said the comments were not meant to be viewed as being personal.

"If I had intended to post largely about myself, I would have done so, and some months ago at that," he stated.

But he went on to add that he felt concentrating on the "image aspect" of politicians alone would have a knock on effect on the sort of people attracted to politics.

But the age claims from Mr Dixon have been rejected by his party.

"We do not discuss private conversations but no candidate has been told they should not stand simply because of their age or sex," said a Plaid spokesperson.

"In fact, there are a number of current members and candidates who are of a similar age or older than John, including the leader himself, standing for Plaid Cymru at the forthcoming election."

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