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Plaid Cymru Leader sets out vision against backdrop of Tory ‘moral austerity’

06 Oct 2023 6 minute read
Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS will use his first conference speech as the Leader of Plaid Cymru to set out his ‘Reform to Build’ agenda, designed to build the “strongest foundations possible” for an independent Wales.

The Plaid Cymru Leader will hit out at the Tories in Westminster’s “moral austerity” and Labour in Wales’ “managerialism” and “self-imposed limits on what Wales can be”, as he makes his case for a vote for Plaid Cymru at the next Westminster and Senedd elections.

In his speech to Plaid Cymru’s Annual Conference in Aberystwyth on Friday afternoon, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS is expected to say: “In the One Wales years, there was a glimpse of what could be.

“But for us as a party whose central mission is about backing Wales’s potential – we believe in our ability to prosper as an independent nation after all – the years of Labour managerialism, of self-imposed limits on what Wales can be, have been frustrating.

“Labour, a party still too wedded to Westminster, even in the dark days of this Conservative Government’s cronyism and cruelty. And a party too resistant to new ways of thinking. Limiting what devolution could bring about. Limiting our ability seek fairness for Wales. To have real ambition.

“I want our children to have the basic human right of equal opportunity – with the eradication of child poverty a central goal in our mission and with a determination to let our young people reach their potential whether born in Bangor or Bridgend, and educated in well-resourced schools, where teachers feel valued.

“Through apprenticeships, through supporting our universities and through innovative measures attracting graduates back to Wales I want our school-leavers to be excited about forging careers here in Wales.

“And I want business – in particular the small and medium sized businesses that are the backbone of our economy – to know that in Plaid Cymru they have a party that will champion them. I want us to innovate as a green nation – proud to take our environmental responsibilities seriously. And creating thousands of jobs in the process.

“I’m serious about making us a healthier nation, with a real revolution in preventative healthcare. And I want to make sure that we take care of the generation who took care of us, investing in a truly integrated National Health and Care Service which allows our parents to grow old with dignity.

Placing a focus on the NHS and the economy, Mr ap Iorwerth is expected to set out a ‘Plaid Cymru Cancer Contract’ laying out steps which could be taken by the Welsh Government to speed up diagnosis and improve survival rates in Wales.

He will also renew his party’s call for a Wales Development Agency for the 21st Century to address “the long shadow of deindustrialisation” which has left Wales with “stubbornly low wages, meagre productivity levels and a shortage of high-skilled, well-paid jobs.”


The Plaid Cymru Leader is expected to say: “In 2022, Wales was ranked last of the UK nations in terms of the profitability of its SMEs. A poor exporting record is just one symptom. Last year just 14% of these businesses sold their goods or services outside the UK – the lowest ‘export intensity’ of the entire UK SME sector.

“So whilst helping businesses grow at home, let’s link up the Welsh economy to the world. And yes, we continue to champion a new Wales Development Agency for the 21st century. Attracting investment, boosting trade, promoting enterprise, working across the UK and globally, growing exports, creating new Welsh supply chains which boost our procurement levels in the process.

“My views on how we need to support business mirror in many ways my ambition for Wales. As Westminster retreats, let’s make sure Wales reaches out.

“This is my vision for independence – a nation that asserts its place in the world – confident, ambitious, collaborative and internationalist. I want to do more than ever to ensure that ‘Brand Wales’ is known around the globe as a hallmark of quality, ingenuity, and excellence.

“And crucially as we build the nation, the economy we develop must be strong, sustainable, AND socially just.

“All this needs reform. We must reform to build. By reforming the structures and systems that sustain us, that educate our children, and care for our parents, we can begin building the strongest foundations possible for an independent Wales.

“So as our democracy changes in 2026, so too must the government of the day. Because a bigger Senedd demands bigger ideas and bigger ambitions if we are to realise the full potential of having a parliament of our own.”

Condemning the Conservatives’ “moral austerity”, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS will say: “A billion pounds taken out of the Welsh economy due to welfare cuts. Clinging on to control of the Crown Estates while Welsh citizens pay some of the highest energy bills in the UK.

“The Great Brexit Betrayal – no share of the promised £350m a week for the NHS, no pound for pound support for Welsh farmers, and a £772m hole in the funding which supported some of our most deprived communities.

“And a Home Secretary who seems to have struck up her own post-Brexit UK-US trade deal. And what’s she importing? Her own brand of tin-pot Trumpism.

“Whilst it takes Braverman to turn her back on people fleeing some of the most desperate places on earth, it takes a far braver man or woman to embrace those in need with the decency and compassion so lacking in this Conservative cabinet.

“If ever there was a reminder that sometimes we must do the right thing, not the easy thing, it is the heartbreaking images of children on dangerously crowded boats, clinging on to their parents as they cling on to life itself. Because it is this moral austerity that we deplore.

“It is why we fight every day to be the antidote to Tory antipathy towards Wales. And every day we are reminded at the same time that Keir Starmer’s Labour Party will never make fair play for Wales a priority.”

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Steffan Gwent
6 months ago

Plaid should not lecture on moral austerity. They lost their own moral compass last year when they shabbily tried to give the whip back to disgraced MP Jonathan Edwards.

Richard E
Richard E
6 months ago
Reply to  Steffan Gwent

Plaid with its historic role of national change makers needs to look forward and learn from all lessons rather by being distracted.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
6 months ago

All good stuff but no mention of the huge need for social housing in Wales. Its impossible to be positive or welcoming when theres nowhere for people to live. Nothing works without a secure home.

Dwr Drewllyd
6 months ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

A lot of empty houses need to be brought back into use.

6 months ago

Really needs to get the message out to how the party issues are being tackled. Make it front and centre. I worry as I have a vote, at the moment it is anything to get the Cons out, but I need a future with options I can trust and not seeing it from Plaid at the moment.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
6 months ago

It would be nice to see a little ‘glass half-full’ positive commentary on here for a change…

Dwr Drewllyd
6 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Plaid needs a positive reset.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
6 months ago

At long last, a Welsh politician that says what Wales actually needs.

We need to claim our own wealth to channel it building an economy to provide the income to benefit the people of Wales; This will include a proper well funded health service, social housing, a transport system for fit for Wales.
We will not be able to achieve this unless we collect our own tax revenue and channel Welsh wealth into Welsh projects, and stop our own wealth automatically leaving our country into the UK English system.

That is why we connect afford not to be independent.

Twm Llewelyn
6 months ago

We need enough hospitals and airports to provide for our own people and a great deal more inward investment before we can see our way to independence. We rely too heavily on UK Government jobs at the moment.

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