The former chairman of Plaid Cymru says he was advised not to stand in next year’s National Assembly election because he was too old.
John Dixon, 61, said the party leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, made the request in June. A month later, Coun Dixon stood down as the party’s chairman.
The allegations appeared on Coun Dixon’s blogg, Borthlas, yesterday.
“I cannot, of course, speak in detail about the selection processes of other parties, but there does seem to be something of a ‘cult of youth’ affecting all parties,” he said.
“There’s an increasing tendency for people to go straight from university to politics, with no wider experience of the world outside, and I’ve never been convinced that’s an entirely good thing.
“That cult certainly affects Plaid Cymru. When Ieuan told me in June that he did not want me to be a candidate for next May’s Assembly election, my age was one of the issues he raised.
“It was his view that, with Ron Davies likely to be selected in 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.”
Keith Price-Davies, Labour’s Assembly candidate in Llanelli, told the Western Mail: “These are extraordinary comments – and if the accusation is true then Ieuan Wyn Jones needs to come forward with an explanation.
“Older people have a vital role to play in our democracy, and it is shameful that Plaid Cymru don’t see that. It should be left to the electorate, both inside political parties and the wider public, to decide who represents them.”
Last night Plaid issued a statement: “We do not discuss private conversations, but no candidate has been told they should not stand simply because of their age or sex.
“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.”
This row is the latest of many debates surrounding age. Award-winning journalist Miriam O’Reilly, 52, is suing the BBC over claims she was axed from Countryfile because she is middle-aged and a woman. Last year, the BBC’s decision to replace 66-year-old Arlene Phillips with Alesha Dixon, 30, sparked outrage. The WAG seems to have fallen victim to such debates.