Adam Price, Plaid Cymru Leader
Mud-splattered, tired and cold, both sides embraced after giving their all.
For the players of Llangefni football club it was 90 minutes of hard battle. For one supporter, life itself is an uphill struggle.
Unperturbed by the standing water beneath her feet and as the floodlights were slowly fading, so was any sense of hope for her. The mounting pressures of running a small business and employing staff meant money was scarce and the future uncertain.
She cried. I felt ashamed that this is the Wales we have become. This wasn’t how I envisaged my year ending.
We embraced as I vowed to fight for her. I asked her to believe that the future of our nation can be better than its past or present.
Igniting hope in the face of fear is the major challenge of our time.
Two decades ago, devolution ushered in the promise of change – a flexible, pliable, transformational settlement that would give our languishing nation the uplift it needed.
20 years in Wales is a lifetime – people here live shortened lives – we want to live in a haven of hope more than anyone.
We’ve become tired of waiting. Waiting for an operation, waiting for the foodbank to open, waiting for a train that isn’t overcrowded; waiting for hope.
I understand the appeal of “getting Brexit done” – a seemingly immediate ‘solution’, the silver bullet in a land where dreams are shot. Brexit was the wrong answer to the right question – a collective kickback against a British Union which has held us back not had our back.
We now face the fight of our lives. We can go one of two ways. Either we die on the drip-feed of Westminster or we become a Wales reborn – answerable to ourselves, blaming no one, working for all.
In fewer than 500 days we will decide which path we take. We will elect the next Welsh government and a new First Minister. It’s either the ‘yes men’ or the ‘Yes Cymru man’ – the leaders of London parties, or the leader who longs for an independent Wales.
Voting Labour hasn’t kept the Tories out in Westminster and hasn’t solved Wales’s problems.
Voting Labour won’t rid us of the British state’s shackles or the years of managed decline.
To paint a different picture, we need to change the frame. So, who will it be?
Left and right, leave and remain must now be the political poles of the past.
Wales or Westminster – that is the choice facing our nation. Prosperity not austerity, hope not despair, independence not dependence.
I don’t want to be First Minister for the power or prestige – were that to be the case I would have joined a London party.
I want to be First Minister because I’m itching to see Wales realise its potential. I want every young person to have the opportunities I had – to make that journey from council house to the House of Commons and onto my own national parliament.
I have to be able to return to Llangefni next May and tell the football fan that her life will change for the better. We’ve stood on the touchline for far too long watching the teams in blue and red fighting it out, rather than fight for Wales.
The devolution dividend has been more drift and decline. Labour have spent 20 years squandering opportunity and becoming the masters of mediocrity.
So, to the woman in Llangefni, the man in Llandaf, the child in Llannon and the grandparent in Llanbrynmair I say this; together we can build a new Wales.
There is nothing wrong with Wales that Wales cannot put right. That is why Plaid Cymru is offering a new hope for the new year.
Wales and its people have the answers, let’s now all work to put them into action in the months ahead.
Blwyddyn newydd dda.