Plaid Cymru's leadership and the hereditary principle

What is the ideal gift for a retiring politician? Tony Blair was given a guitar by Labour MPs and peers.

Jacques Chirac was presented with an 18th century beer tankard by EU leaders when he stepped down as president of France.

If Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones doesn't want to know what his MPs have in mind when he steps down next year, then he may want to look away now.

"Anyone who has led the party for 10 years deserves a Blue Peter badge," said Jonathan Edwards, Plaid MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr.

Mr Edwards and his fellow Plaid MP Hywel Williams queued up to pay tribute to Mr Jones at a party press conference in Westminster.

"Ten years is quite enough for anybody," said Mr Williams. "Ieuan's commitment to making government work in Wales is a shining example."

So what of the future? Could a Welsh socialist nationalist party be led by a member of the House of Lords?

Lord Elis-Thomas of Nant Conwy is keen on a comeback to the role he held (as an MP) between 1984 and 1991.

Mr Edwards praised Lord Elis-Thomas (a life peer rather than a hereditary one) as a political genius although he suggested it may be time for one of the younger generation to lead the party.

In his earlier incarnation as leader, Lord Elis-Thomas was late for his own speech to the Plaid conference as he'd been delayed greeting the Queen as a local MP.

Jonathan Edwards doesn't want to lead Plaid, but he does have some experience meeting royalty.

Earlier this year, he was part of the welcoming party as the Prince of Wales visited Frank's ice cream at Capel Hendre, near Ammanford.

The MP was introduced to the Prince as the son of the local councillor.

"Ah," said Prince Charles with a glint in his eye. "Hereditaries!"