A pacifist, he became active in Heddwchwyr Cymru, a Welsh organisation closely associated with the Peace Pledge Union, serving as secretary and editor of a series of pamphlets throughout the Second World War. A committed Christian also, he declared himself a conscientious objector, and was required to appear before a tribunal which, recognising the firmness of his beliefs, registered him unconditionally.
Evans is credited with keeping Plaid Cymru going through the lean years of the 1940s and 1950s — in the 1950s he campaigned unsuccessfully for a Welsh parliament, and failed to prevent the damming of the Tryweryn river and consequent inundation of the Welsh-speaking community of Capel Celyn in order to supply the city of Liverpool with water — a cause célèbre in Wales in the early 1960s.
Evans was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949, keeping his seat for the next 25 years, usually as the lone Plaid Cymru representative, acquiring the nickname "Evans dual carriageway" for his emphasis on improving transport links. He contested Merioneth at the general elections of 1945, 1950, 1955 and 1959, and the Aberdare by-election, 1954.
On 14 July 1966, Evans won the parliamentary seat of Carmarthen from Labour in a by-election caused by the death of Lady Megan Lloyd George, daughter of the former Liberal Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, having come third in the general election just a few weeks before. He had also contested the seat at the 1964 general election. His by-election victory is regarded as a seminal moment for Plaid Cymru. He was shown around the House of Commons by fellow pacifist Emrys Hughes, the son-in-law of Keir Hardie; on pointing out the Welsh Labour table in the Commons' tea room, Hughes warned him, "You’d better not sit down there, your name’s mud among that lot."
In the 1970 General Election Evans lost his Carmarthen seat to Labour's Gwynoro Jones, and failed to regain it in the February 1974 General Election by only three votes. He regained the seat - with a majority of 3,640 votes - in the October 1974 General Election, when he returned to Parliament accompanied by two other Plaid Cymru MPs, Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas.
In the House of Commons, Evans was true to his pacifist principles in being one of the few MPs to oppose the British government's support of the Nigerian federal government with supplies of weapons in the civil war against Biafra (1967–1970). He also opposed the Vietnam War: after being denied entry to the country as part of an inspection group, he instead protested outside a US air base in Thailand.
In 1980, his threat to go on hunger strike, after the Conservative government reneged on its election promise of a Welsh language television channel, was instrumental in bringing about an early U-turn on the part of Margaret Thatcher, and S4C began broadcasting on 1 November 1982.
In his political retirement he became a prolific writer, mainly on Welsh subjects and writing in Welsh with simultaneous or later English editions. His work Aros Mae (It Endures) (published 1971), a comprehensive history of Wales, and the English language version Land of my Fathers: 2000 Years of Welsh History (published 1974), had already become best-sellers.
Biographer's Plea: Please Keep a Diary, Emails Won't Do; Author of Book on Gwynfor Evans in Warning to Politicians
Jun 16, 2008; Byline: Martin Shipton Chief Reporter A PRIZE-WINNING biographer has pleaded with politicians of all parties to keep diaries so...