The cost of the coronavirus pandemic can’t be shifted on to the people in the same way as the decade of austerity that followed the 2008 financial crisis, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has said.
Speaking ahead of the party’s digital conference which starts on Wednesday, he said that the post-pandemic renewal effort must include a “transformational” programme of investment.
He also said that Wales needed to learn from the positives of lockdown, including flexible working and more time with loved ones, cleaner air from less traffic, and a renewed sense of community.
“We cannot follow the same pattern as the financial crisis of 2007, in which the banks had a bailout but the people got austerity,” he wrote in the Western Mail newspaper.
“This pandemic should be where we draw the line and work towards a Wales which protects and benefits all its citizens.
“We cannot simply return to what some are already calling a new normal. We cannot allow our lives to just gradually pick up, while the pandemic recedes to a mere episode in the rear-view mirror of our past.
“We can transform our NHS into a resilient system that can cope with the challenges we’ll encounter in the coming years, we can update Wales’ infrastructure, fit for the 21st century, we can lift families out of poverty, and we can begin a green revolution by investing in sustainable energy systems.
“We need a generational, transformational programme of investment in our social infrastructure – care homes, surgeries, schools, libraries and parks.”
Adam Price also indicated that ending poverty will be a priority for an incoming Plaid Cymru government, as he also promised to unveil new policies during the conference.
“Changing Wales for good, and for the better, will ensure that we become a fairer nation, one in which everyone has a fair chance,” he said.
“We will work towards making poverty in Wales a thing of the past, a Wales in which children don’t turn up to school with empty stomachs or go to bed cold and don’t get left behind simply because of their background.
“If Plaid Cymru becomes the next government of Wales in May, we will hit the ground running turning these ambitions into reality, and implementing exciting policies to do so, many of which will be announced this week.”
Plaid Cymru announced in July that its autumn conference will be held digitally because of coronavirus.
Their Spring conference was cancelled, as it was due to take place in Llangollen in March the weekend before the lockdown was announced.
The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats also called off their autumn conferences in favour of online events.