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Byline: By Steve Tucker South Wales Echo

Life is lonely for Plaid Cymru councillors in Cardiff.

Despite brilliant successes in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly, where Plaid seized control in 1999, the capital itself has provided very slim pickings for the self-styled 'National Party of Wales'.

It's amazing really, when you consider over the past decade it seems half of Bangor has upped sticks and moved to Pontcanna.

It's no surprise then that the affluent neighbourhood and its multi-cultural neighbour Riverside are top of Plaid's hit-list on June 10.

Indeed, one of the ward's present members, Neil McEvoy, has already crossed the floor from Labour to Plaid, thus bringing the number of Plaid Cymru councillors in the Welsh capital to a grand total of two.

The other is Plaid's leader on Cardiff council (which ain't a hard job to grab considering up until last year he was the only councillor) Delme Bowen, who represents Creigiau and St Fagans.

A professor of biology at Cardiff University, Delme, 59, is a laid back type of bloke, with a good line in self-deprecating humour. He comes across as relaxed, a guy with nothing to lose, which in political terms in Cardiff he virtually is.

Originally from the village of Glanaman, in Carmarthenshire, he moved to Cardiff as a student in 1962 and as he puts it: 'I never went away.'

Delme married in 1968 and he and his wife had three sons and a daughter, before divorcing 10 years ago.

He is now engaged to be married to his partner Pam, a civil servant.

His early political mentor was Dr Dafydd Huws, Cardiff's first Plaid councillor, in Fairwater, in 1967.

Five years later Delme himself was representing Pontyclun, in the old Taff Ely Borough Council, before moving on to Mid Glamorgan and through boundary changes to Cardiff.

Thankfully he is also not one of those: 'I'm Welsher than you are' people, who for many non-Welsh- speaking Cardiff natives have made Plaid rather unpalatable over the years.

Personally I'll always remember as a kid my grandmother, born and raised in Cardiff, saying: 'Oh, I can't stand those Welshies!'

'If that attitude existed in the past, things have certainly changed,' said Delme.

'Suddenly I believe Cardiff is proud to be the Welsh capital, people understand that if we work together we can be a very successful nation, we have the people here to do that, we have the talent.

'The Welsh language issue can be divisive, it's not about whether you speak the language or not, it's about the Welsh nation pulling together.'

At first glance the Plaid pursuit of the ethnic vote seems contradictory, unusual for what is basically a nationalist party.

Delme disagrees. He said: 'There's a natural link there, I think many Welsh speakers have often felt like a minority in their own country.'

The National Assembly may well be unique in that it is one of the few things, since Brad Pitt's beard, that has pleased no one.

Many want it abolished and everybody else wants it to have more powers. No prizes for guessing where Delme stands.

He said: 'I have been very disappointed in the National Assembly. There's little doubt in its present form it cannot do the job it was set up to do, it must have more powers.

'I would like to see the people of Cardiff realise they have all that is necessary to run their own country.

'Look at Europe, I don't see any reason why Wales should not enter the European Union as a single nation, what's wrong with us? We are no different from Slovakia or Latvia.

'There's a Welsh poem that says Wales is just the right size to love.'

Aside from the pan-European policy, at a local level Delme said Plaid's plans were much more hands on.

'Our basic philosophy is that local communities should be put first,' he said.

Plaid's performance next month might well be a fair indication of just how 'Welsh' the people of the capital actually see themselves.

Delme is naturally bullish about his party's chances.

He said: 'We'll see how we go, half a dozen seats would be superb.'

Delme Bowen

Favourite TV programme: Newsnight.

Favourite Film: Proud Valley.

Favourite Music: Moonlight Sonata.

Favourite food/drink: Sewin/Newcastle Brown.

Interests: Biology and history.

Hero: Dr William Price.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 20, 2004
Next Article:pounds 33m payout.

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