Plaid Cymru can start a “national conversation” about independence under his leadership, Rhun ap Iorwerth has said.
The Plaid Cymru leadership candidate, and former BBC journalist, says he views clarity in communicating his and Plaid’s message as paramount, calling for the party to sharpen up its social media profile and build a more positive narrative in traditional media outlets.
The postal ballots for the Plaid Cymru leadership will begin arriving at homes across Wales today.
“I have always wanted Wales to plough its own furrow,” Rhun ap Iorwerth told Nation.Cymru. “I have always wanted Wales to be the master of his own destiny. I went into politics because I wanted to serve my community.
“I wanted to serve my nation but I also wanted to build my nation and I know I’m in a party with people who are like-minded.
“I would like for us to have been an independent country decades ago but that didn’t happen. What I want to see is us taking a clear step forward in our national conversation about how we can make that happen.
“I look forward as First Minister to putting together and launching the first-ever government-led look at how we make Wales an independent country. Looking honestly at the challenges and spreading the word about the opportunities that would arise from that.
“The independent Wales that I seek, the nation I want to be a part of and live in, and for my children to live in, is an outward-looking builder of bridges. Building partnerships with as many countries as possible not limiting the networks we are part of.
“That is crystal clear in my mind and I think that could be appealing to people that there is a pride in who we are, and hopefully a realisation that no country can do it alone.
“That partnerships at one level or another are vital and our outward-looking Wales is in stark contrast to that of hard Brexit Britain.”
Working with other parties is inevitable if Plaid Cymru is to form the next Welsh Government, he said.
No party in the history of devolution has ever won a majority in the Assembly, he said, and it was not “defeatist” to say Plaid were unlikely to do so.
But he ruled out the possibility of propping up either the Labour or Conservative party in a coalition.
“Cooperation is something that happens at all levels,” he said. “What I want Plaid Cymru to be is in a position to lead the government.
“I think it would be very, very, bad for Wales to have a Labour First Minister for another assembly term after 2021, I genuinely do. We need to move out of this rut that we’re in as a country.
“I think it would be very bad, and I could never, ever, support having a Conservative First Minister for Wales.
“It might be for different reasons I don’t want a Labour or Conservative first Minister but I think they would both be bad. I say we have to have a Plaid Cymru First Minister.
“I am not seeking a coalition with anybody but I am seeking the opportunity to lead Wales as First Minister and in some way or another that is going to have to mean partnerships and agreements on the way forward.
“And if other parties wanted back my ideas as First Minister and let us implement a programme of government for Wales, let’s make it happen.”
Despite initially ruling himself out as a contender, the AM for Ynys Môn says he was persuaded to stand due to public support and by Leanne Wood’s backing of a leadership contest as a way of reinvigorating the party.
Ap Iorwerth declared his intention to challenge Wood just before the deadline in July, as did his fellow challenger Adam Price.
“I am saying quite clearly in this election that I want to lead Plaid Cymru to lead Wales,” he said.
“Yes, it is an election to choose a leader for Plaid Cymru and that will be the exercise we will be going through for the next six or seven weeks.
“But the purpose of this is to put somebody up who can lead Wales as First Minister in the National Assembly.
“I think the message is similar, be it to an internal party audience or an external audience, that we need to build as wide a consensus as possible on the kind of Wales that we want and how we are going to deliver it.”
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