Wales politics

Plaid Cymru AM Lord Elis-Thomas wins local backing

Lord Elis-Thomas arriving at meeting
Image caption Lord Elis-Thomas declined to comment as he left the meeting

Plaid Cymru AM Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas has won the backing of local party members amid growing concern about his criticism of party leadership and policy.

A meeting in Porthmadog, Gwynedd, was called to discuss the AM's future.

One party member, who did not want to be named, said: "There was a vote and the local party voted in favour of him, but he will have to make compromises".

Leader Leanne Wood has said it is up to the party to resolve the issue.

He faces internal disciplinary action for questioning Plaid's election campaign priorities.

Members of Plaid's national executive were taking views from Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency party members at Tuesday's meeting.

Lord Elis-Thomas and Plaid chief executive Rhuanedd Richards declined to comment as they left.

Several local members confirmed a vote had been held in favour of Lord Elis-Thomas staying as the candidate, but refused to comment further.

One member said there had been "quite a debate" at the meeting of more than 50 members.

Election focus

Several leading figures within Plaid Cymru are known to be unhappy at the content and timing of criticism levelled at their leader over the past few months.

The assembly's former presiding officer, who himself led Plaid Cymru from 1984 to 1991, had criticised his party's main general election demand that Wales should be treated in the same way as Scotland.

He said the campaign did not appear to focus on Wales' future.

Image caption Leanne Wood beat Lord Elis-Thomas and Elin Jones to be elected Plaid leader in 2012

Lord Elis-Thomas has also been at odds with the party over the timing of the promised EU referendum, arguing that to hold it on the same day as the 2016 assembly election in May could boost turnout.

Ms Wood and First Minister Carwyn Jones have both said it should not clash with the election.

In 2014, Lord Elis-Thomas lost the chairmanship of an assembly committee for criticising Ms Wood's spring party conference speech in which she said a vote for UKIP was "a vote against Wales".

Plaid chief executive Rhuanedd Richards and chairman Dafydd Trystan are expected to report back to a national executive meeting in August.

Lord Elis-Thomas has already been chosen as the Plaid candidate to defend his Dwyfor Meirionnydd seat in the 2016 assembly election, but could face de-selection as the ultimate sanction.

Analysis by BBC Wales political correspondent Aled ap Dafydd

The key question for both sides is how much of a team player is Lord Elis-Thomas?

On his own Twitter page he calls himself an "independent environmentalist" with no mention of Plaid Cymru.

The whip was temporarily withdrawn from him in 2012 when he did not turn up to a crucial vote on the future of Welsh Labour's then health minister Lesley Griffiths.

But it is his criticism of Plaid's main general election demand that Wales should be treated in the same way as Scotland which has put his future within the party at risk.

In weekly press conferences, senior Plaid assembly members have wriggled uncomfortably in their seats when asked to support him.

His supporters say he is a constitutional visionary, a politically uniting figure rather than a tribal politician. He has in the past been able to fall back on local support to get him out of internal party scrapes.

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