They've arrived in Llandudno, but where next for Plaid?

Betsan Powys
Former political editor, Wales

image copyrightbbc
image captionAn inflatable elephant greeted delegates to the Plaid Cymru conference

Through the window I can see two striking sights - a giant inflatable white elephant on the Llandudno seafront and giant silver letters announcing that Plaid's conference this Autumn is happening in VENUE CYMRU.

First impressions? That Plaid members aren't entirely sure what to make of the former but that the latter's a particularly apt venue this year.

First, the elephant. It's here to spread the word that the High Speed 2 rail link would be a very bad thing for Wales. I warned the elephant's keeper that the last inflatable animal to warn the Welsh that something would be a very bad thing didn't fare too well. Remember True Wales' pig? From the look on his face, I wasn't the first to try that line.

And why is Venue Cymru so apt? Because after a debate about devolving the party structure ("there has been an over-emphasis in the past on developing strategies from the centre at the expense of campaigning in constituencies") came a debate about the very name Plaid. Or should that be Plaid the Party of Wales? No, said the Swansea, Gower and Carmarthen East branches. It should once again be Plaid Cymru. Plaid CYMRU. Throw out that 2006 rebranding exercise. Forget that new logo of a yellow flower that is based, apparently, on "organic growth" and widening the party's appeal outside its Welsh speaking heartlands. Say it out loud. Say it proud. We are Plaid Cymru.

They noted that "Plaid Cymru was the only one of the four main political parties in the 2011 Assembly election not to have the word 'Cymru' in our party name and/or election materials".

Other parties had stolen Plaid's clothes, they suggested, had out-nationalised the nationalists, or "achieved a more nationalist appearance than Plaid Cymru - even though their policies do not match their branding". Step forward Mr C Jones, followed, perhaps, by Mr N Bourne.

The debate was a closed one but the vote was apparently too close to call, which means the party's name may well be up for discussion by the working group busy reviewing not simply where Plaid goes in name but in heart, body and soul too. They'll find ordinary members here are up for the discussion, up, on some issues, for a fight and certainly not downbeat.

After the name, on to the real guts of it over the next two days - the economy, the future funding of Wales, independence.

A motion on the future of broadcasting in Wales has prompted the London branch, along with the European Parliamentary Group, to call on this conference to support a campaign to withhold television license fees in protest at the future funding link between S4C and the BBC. It was passed, almost unanimously. Will Ieuan Wyn Jones be ripping up his TV licence? An amendment to the motion tabled by his own constituency suggests the man from Ynys Mon says no.

"Oh not that again," said one voice. "We're not really going back to the days of forgetting we're a proper political party, not a pressure group, are we?"

A new name... a new direction... what's the news on a new leader? A round-up of what I've heard so far.

"Well Adam's the obvious name." But not the obvious candidate. Former Carmarthen East MP Adam Price is no longer an elected member so won't be standing, but tells the readers of Golwg 360 that he'll support the new leader, "whoever she is".

"Leanne has GOT to stand".

"It'll be Elin I tell you".

"If Lindsay and Llyr had been there just a little while longer..."

Former Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis-Thomas has said he'd be happy to go for the leadership and happy, too, to go back into coalition with Labour as soon as possible. He's told the Daily Post that talk of independence is "a mirage... virtual politics, not real politics".

That angered one member so much he stuck up a poster on the front door calling on Plaid to "Diarddel Dafydd El", or "Expel Dafydd El". It was swiftly removed. Let's see how much fire there is in the party's belly by Saturday's debate on independence for Wales in Europe.

By the way, I'm sure this wasn't an omen, but when the sound technician used his smart phone's voice recognition to ask for directions to "Llan-dud-no", it failed to deliver, saying it couldn't tell him how to get to "And didn't know".

Working out the way ahead will be painful, Plaid accept that. They know too that not everyone will go along it but at least they might be a bit clearer about the choices the party faces by the end of this conference.