Our History

If you are new to this website, you may not be aware of Plaid's long and important history. In 2005 Plaid Cymru celebrated its 80th birthday. As we look to the future, this brief history and overview of the party's past will help you make sense of our vision for a better Wales and a better world.

Our message to the London based parties is clear – we are going to reach out to the people of Wales and put devolution in practice. Our message to the people of Wales is equally clear – we are your party. The party's development isn't easily divorced from the history of Wales or from events the world over as Plaid is a party which follows the maxim, "think globally, act locally". The party's unequivocal opposition to the Iraq war is one indication of our international outlook as is our record on promoting peace in the Middle East and in other areas of conflict.


Plaid Cymru The Party of Wales was formed on 5th August 1925. Its aims are:

To promote the constitutional advancement of Wales with a view to attaining Full National Status for Wales within the European Union. To ensure economic prosperity, social justice and the health of the natural environment, based on decentralist socialism. To build a national community based on equal citizenship, respect for different traditions and cultures and the equal worth of all individuals, whatever their race, nationality, gender, colour, creed, sexuality, age, ability or social background. To create a bilingual society by promoting the revival of the Welsh language. To promote Wales's contribution to the global community and to attain membership of the United Nations.

Where we are now

Following the Assembly Elections of 2007, Plaid Cymru secured its position as the second largest party in Wales with 15 seats. After long negotiations Plaid formed the One Wales government with the Labour Party, and became a government party for the first time in its history. In 2004, Jill Evans was returned as a Plaid MEP having spent five successful years in the European Parliament with Eurig Wyn. In the 2005 General Election, Plaid kept control of Carmarthen East and Dinefwr with 46% of the votes, doubling its majority to nearly 7,000. It also kept control of Meirionydd Nant Conwy and Caernarfon with 51% and 46% of the vote respectively. Despite losing the Ceredigion seat by only 219 votes, the 2005 General Election was Plaid's second best showing at a Uk General Election ever. But what were the reasons for establishing the party in the first place?

A Sense of injustice

It was this, a sense of injustice facing the people of Wales, which compelled the founding members of Plaid Cymru The Party of Wales to form a political party. Other quasi-political organizations (Cymru Fydd, The Welsh Movement and The Welsh Home Rule Army) had been in existence but there was no single political expression for the wish to establish a government in Wales.

While each founding member had different political motivations for wanting to establish the party in 1925, the unifying thread was a deep-seated anxiety for the future of Wales's people and their communities. The First World War was fresh in the memories of some of those early members who had fought so that small nations across Europe could be free. This personal experiences of seeing other small nations gain independence served to underline the sense of indifference and injustice which faced Wales in socio-economic, cultural and political terms.

The journey so far

Four years into its existence, the party contested its first parliamentary election in Caernarfon at the General Election of May 1929. The party's candidate, Lewis Valentine, polled 609 votes. These 609 electors became known as "the gallant six hundred" when Dafydd Iwan, present party president, immortalized them in song. Just over forty years later, Plaid Cymru was to take and hold this seat with a convincing majority.

After World War II, the presidency of the late Gwynfor Evans proved a catalyst to the party's development. In the General Election of 1950, Plaid Cymru fielded 7 candidates and by 1964 this had grown to 23. Membership of the party grew rapidly during the late 1960s and constituency organisations were formed in many new areas.

Following Gwynfor Evans' sensational victory in the 1966 Carmarthen Westminster by election, Plaid came within a whisker of breaking the Labour stranglehold in two key valley by-elections at Rhondda West in 1967 and Caerffili in 1968.

Gwynfor's speech after 1966 victory:

In 1970, the party contested all seats in Wales for the first time and polled over 175,000 votes. Today Plaid contests every seat for the European Parliament, Westminster and the National Assembly along with the majority of local council seats.

Prominent personalities

Lewis Valentine, Saunders Lewis and Gwynfor Evans are prominent figures in the development of Plaid Cymru. Lewis Valentine was the party's first president. Saunders Lewis, an academic and dramatist, was party president between 1926 and 1939. Gwynfor Evans, the party's first Member of Parliament was president between 1945 and 1981 when Dafydd Wigley (the party's honorary president) took over.

Other figures who have contributed to the party's political appeal include the author Kate Roberts who helped shape the party's socialist policies. DJ and Noelle Davies built on their knowledge of Irish and Scandinavian economic policy and wrote the seminal text, Can Wales afford Self-Government?, the answer to which was a resounding "Yes!". J.E.Jones was party General Secretary between 1930 and 1962 and the Cambridge academic Raymond Williams came to prominence as a Plaid Cymru member in the 1970s. These diverse key figures have all contributed to Plaid Cymru's achievements in all corners of Wales and have left a historical legacy which is rich in its variety.

Pivotal moments

The party's conference in 1981 incorporated community socialism into its formal aims and elected Caernarfon MP, Dafydd Wigley as President in succession to Gwynfor Evans. In the same year, Gwynfor took centre stage in the fight for S4C. After a strenuous campaign in which Gwynfor threatened to fast to death, the party forced the Thatcher government into a major concession and secured a Welsh-medium television channel. In the 1987 election, Ieuan Wyn Jones (who now leads Plaid Cymru in the Assembly) captured Ynys Mon from the Conservatives.

During the 1990s, Plaid Cymru played a leading role in resisting the Poll Tax and successfully opposed the construction of a giant military radar base at St David's in west Wales. The party also stepped up its bid to secure self-government for Wales in the European Union. The General Election on 9th April 1992 saw Cynog Dafis, on a Plaid-Green Party ticket, gaining Ceredigion and Pembroke North from the Liberal Democrats. The party had four MPs and a Peer following the 'elevation' of Dafydd Elis-Thomas.

The future

Plaid Cymru The Party of Wales recognizes the need to ensure that elected politicians represent Wales's communities in all their diversity. Measures to promote women candidates were adopted in the 1990s which led to the election of six women to the National Assembly for Wales in 1999. As the new Wales becomes increasingly multicultural, the party is attracting more members from Wales's ethnic minority communities. The party is proud to have three County Councillors from the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities of Wales. The launch of CymruX (see www.cymruX.org) has also drawn a strong cohort of young people to the party with increasing numbers standing in elections on behalf of Plaid Cymru The Party of Wales. They all share a vision of a better Wales and of a better world. 

Plaid Cymru History Society

The aims of the society  are to promote discussion , knowledge and research about  the history of Plaid Cymru and  any aspects of history relevant to the Society. To bring to a wider audience knowledge of people and events that contributed to the country’s constitutional history before 1925.

For more information click here