Plaid Cymru conference roundup: The key speeches
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said that a “new spirit in Wales is rising” in his first speech as Plaid Cymru leader at a Spring conference.
Addressing delegates at Bangor University’s arts and culture centre Pontio, Plaid Cymru leader laid out the party’s vision for the New Wales they would deliver as the new Welsh Government in 2021.
Amongst the new ideas including proposals for a Minister for the Future would forge a new way of doing politics and Wales’ future in Europe.
He also confirmed that the party would vote against Theresa May’s Withdrawal Deal if the Prime Minister brought it back for a third time “to protect Welsh jobs, Welsh farms and Welsh communities” and to keep Wales inside the Customs Union and the Single Market, by giving the people a final say with a Peoples Vote with an option to remain.
“A new spirit in Wales is rising,” he said. “The new Wales we’re fighting for is one that is self-confident, optimistic, ambitious, dynamic.
“To get there we need a bit of Warren Gatland’s spirit: ‘If you want something badly enough and really believe it can happen, it often does.’
“We have exciting and fresh ideas about Wales, about forging a new way of doing politics, and Wales’ future in Europe. Plaid Cymru will create a Minister for the Future, with a place in the Welsh Government Cabinet, to ensure we are not bystanders in our own history, but we in Wales and the government of Wales can shape our own future.
“Our essential message is about radical delivery. New ideas, implemented well. With a deep-rooted sense of urgency.
“While Westminster looks through its rose-tinted monocle and yearns for the return of the British Empire, the people of Wales are looking to the future, a new future – a new Wales – with Plaid Cymru.”
‘Health policy will be crucial’
Mid and West AM Helen Mary Jones told Plaid Cymru activists that the party’s health policies can help deliver a new Welsh Government in 2021.
The Shadow Health and Social Services Minister said that a lack of joined-up thinking and incompetence of the Labour-led Welsh Government had hampered the Welsh NHS.
Helen Mary Jones, Llanelli candidate for the 2021 election, put health policy as one of the key battlegrounds of the election in two years’ time.
She said Plaid Cymru can act as the ‘bridge’ between the Wales of today and the Wales of the future with a new Welsh Government in 2021.
“We meet in Pontio – to bridge in Welsh, a building whose aim is to bridge between town and gown, the city and the university, in a county run by a Plaid Cymru administration,” she said.
“Showing where we govern, we get results for the people we serve.
“The polls show that we are on track to have our best result in terms of seats with 19 at the last look, but we want to do better. Plaid Cymru can be the bridge, the vehicle for improving Wales.
“Of moving with a new Welsh Government in 2021 to a Wales can spirit, not a Wales can’t under Labour. If we can do it in sport with the men’s senior rugby team and a grand slam why not politically as well?”
She described as “abysmal” the performance of successive Labour Health Ministers, including the current holder Vaughan Gething.
“Performance at Welsh A&E departments last December was worse than the same time last year,” she said.
“We know the Welsh NHS are working their socks off but they need better leadership. It is Plaid Cymru that offers that vision and commitment.
“We remain committed to training and recruiting 1,000 extra doctors and 5,000 nurses, with specific policies to deliver on these targets.
“A new Plaid Cymru Welsh Government in 2021 would prioritise public health, including a Welsh Clean Air Act, increase the level of physical activity for children in schools and restrict the numbers of fast food outlets. Our health policies will be key to our path to power in 2021.
“This conference is a step on the road towards a new Wales with a new Welsh Government in 2021. Together we can make it happen. Yes Wales Can.”
‘Time to deliver for the environment’
Leanne Wood told Plaid Cymru’s Spring conference of her wish to see a ‘Green New Deal’ in Wales.
The Rhondda AM said it was vital that the environment and people are put at the centre of the Welsh economy.
Ms Wood said if we were going to “deliver justice for the people and for the planet” then a radical plan was necessary.
Her words follow in the wake of a ‘Green New Deal’ unveiled by American congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow democrats last month.
This notion of harnessing, rather than exploiting, the environment was also at the heart of Leanne’s 2011 policy document Greenprint for the Valleys.
“The window of opportunity to save our planet is fast closing upon us. Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of U.N. Environment, said just last month that a “bleak future” awaits our planet unless big changes are made,” Leanne Wood said.
“Wales could – and should – be a pioneer in the movement to develop carbon-neutral economies. We can lead the way to a sustainable future if there is the right political will.
“Given that the current Welsh Government are failing so miserably to meet their own carbon emission targets, achieving the right political will mean political change. In Wales that can only be delivered by a Plaid Cymru Government.
“It isn’t just the environment that suffers under the current system. Everyday people are increasingly under pressure and out of pocket from a rampant capitalism that runs roughshod over resources and workers.
“People are being exploited by corporations that care only about lining shareholder pockets, evading tax and ensuring executives receive astronomical salaries. Owning your own house, for many young people nowadays, is an unobtainable dream.
“We need a new economic system that delivers justice for the people and for the planet.”
Ms Wood said the climate change protests that have sprung up in recent weeks with young people at the fore had been inspiring.
“There is a growing movement among young people who want a future on this planet” said Ms Wood.“Predictions are that catastrophic ecological change will occur in the lifetimes of these young people. Understandably they are angry and they are motivated.
“Rather than condemn the protests of these young people – as some right wing politicians have chosen to do – I applaud them. With young and energetic people at the vanguard of a burgeoning environmental movement, there is a chance that the future may not be so bleak after all.”
During her speech, Leanne also paid tribute to her dearly missed friend and colleague, Steffan Lewis.
‘Plaid Cymru is the party of the future’
Plaid Cymru’s newly appointed Shadow Minister for the Future Delyth Jewell said during her first conference speech as an AM that Plaid Cymru is the party of the future.
Delyth Jewell’s new enhanced portfolio also includes International Relations, Culture and Tourism.
“Conference, it is up to us to determine what kind of Wales we want to be,” she said. “Plaid Cymru is the party of the future.
“Which is why I’m delighted to be appointed by our Leader Adam Price as our party’s Shadow Minister for the Future.
“This will mean that the incoming Plaid Cymru government in 2021 will have a Minister at the heart of government tasked with taking the long view, so that our children and grandchildren’s welfare is considered when decisions are being taken. I will make sure that their inheritance – the Welsh nation – is nurtured and protected.”
Delyth Jewell AM also said that people will not forgive the Tories and Labour for their Brexit “betrayal”:
“It is a bitter irony that at this time when we have the cruellest, most self-serving Tory government in Westminster, we are also faced with the most haphazard, weak Labour party in any of our memories.
“Tory prevarication has come up against Labour deception – a fateful inability to live up to the moment – and between them, what’s best for our nation gets squeezed out of any debate.
“Whether it be by legislative tricks in Westminster or a dearth of ambition in Cardiff Bay, our voice is being choked out.”
She added: “The British state is humiliated. Its emperor has no clothes, but stands starkly, utterly naked, rambling in a soggy field, with only a tattered union flag for its modesty.”
She reiterated Plaid Cymru support for a People’s Vote as the best way to break the Brexit deadlock and confirmed that the party would campaign to remain if such a referendum is held.
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