Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru
New year, how we’ve longed for you.
336 days have passed since the first case of Covid was confirmed in the UK. 336 days which have changed our lives forever.
Who can forget that fateful tweet from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on January 2nd – “This is going to be a fantastic year for Britain”?
If ever there was a stark reminder how little we know about what lies ahead of us, 2020 has been it.
Now, more than ever, we are craving stability, security, normality.
But with Wales in lockdown for the third time and large swathes of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland under tighter restrictions, in these darkest months those desires still feel distant.
The year in which the Prime Minister vowed ‘to take back control’ is the year in which he lost it entirely.
The Covid pandemic has shone a light on the worst excesses of Westminster rule.
Contracts for contacts is the latest form of cronyism rife among the Tory ranks, with millions of pounds squandered on inadequate PPE and an ineffective track and trace system.
As ever when the Tories have the keys to Number 10, the rich have got richer and the poor have got poorer.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Whilst 2020 may have been the year of locking down, 2021 can be the year of locking in hope.
Unity and common purpose have been so important in the pandemic. Communities have come together like never before, and where they have charted their own course with care and caution, ignoring Downing Street diktat, Plaid Cymru has supported the Welsh Government.
A crisis of this nature is no time for politicking, but it is time for politics.
As we resolve to build back better, what we need is new architects and new foundations.
In little over 200 days, Wales will elect a new government tasked with a recovery project like no other.
How do we protect our young people from the worst mental health crisis in a generation?
How can we make sure that thousands of businesses haven’t closed their doors for the final time?
And now that the clapping has stopped, how do we take better care of our carers and key workers?
We won’t fix all of it at once. But my fervent belief is that a Plaid Cymru government, given the opportunity, could begin the process of transformational change that would set our nation on a path to better things.
A minimum wage of £10 per hour for every care worker, bringing them in line with NHS salaries.
A £35 a week payment for every family forced to cut corners at the end of every month.
Free childcare from the age of one for every son and daughter, generating thousands of jobs and boosting household incomes by allowing many parents to return to work.
A pledge that no child goes hungry.
And the most ambitious housebuilding programme since the 1970s creating 10,000 new affordable homes each year for five years.
In a world of choices and priorities, these are ours.
A government’s programme should be a mirror of its principles – it is what you do, not what you say that really matters.
A government that will be judged on its record as well as its rhetoric – that is how you lock in hope.
2020 isn’t the only thing many of us would like to leave behind.
The irony of last year is that as uncertainty dominated our lives, certainty in our ability to forge our own way in the world grew stronger.
When the UK Government said no to furlough, no to a public sector pay rise, no to protecting the Senedd’s powers, we said ‘yes’ Cymru.
2021 could be the year that Scotland breaks free and the year that Wales can vote for independence too.
While many are vowing to build back better, only independence allows us to build back ‘best.’
Knowing that the winds of constitutional change are behind us warms my heart in what will undoubtedly be a harsh winter.
Come the spring, change will be in the air. A layer of vaccine protection will form a comfort blanket across the nation.
But on May 6th the new normal is up to you.
A confident, outward-looking, socially just and equitable Wales is here to win.
After all the sacrifice, the grief, the loss, and hardship, that’s the least we deserve.
Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.