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Leanne Wood promises 'new solutions and new thinking' on economy

Plaid Cymru's conference is set to begin today Photo: Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru's annual autumn conference begins in Brecon today.

This will be Leanne Wood's first as party leader following her leadership election success in March, and the economy is expected to dominate her key-note speech to delegates.

She's expected to say that Wales now needs a Government 'that thinks ahead' and plans to 'protect all those people who are at risk of sinking beneath this tsunami of austerity - cuts in jobs, cuts in services, cuts in pay and in real income.'

But she will say throughout successive UK Governments 'the problems of Wales persist' and is expected to flesh out her thinking on a 'Green New Deal', with ways to increase the capital available for businesses and finance on offer to start-up businesses, arguing there needs to be a new economic path for Wales.

Constraints

Under the Government of Wales Act 2006, the Welsh Government doesn't have borrowing powers and can only carry a small portion of its budget over from different financial years.

The Welsh Government has been discussing changes to the current settlement with the Coalition Government in Westminster, while the Silk Commission has also been looking at greater fiscal powers for politicians in Cardiff Bay.

During the last election, Plaid Cymru advocated the policy 'Build for Wales', which sought to create a not-for-profit organisation as a means of developing and managing large infrastructure projects.

The Party argued such an organisation could raise finance from revenue streams currently unavailable to the Welsh Government.

While Leanne Wood has confirmed this policy remains in place, the concept didn't seem to enthuse Welsh voters as Plaid Cymru lost four seats and its place as a coalition partner in Government.

Therefore, while Leanne Wood promises more detail about the party's economic policy, it remains to be seen if these ideas will be more successful at pleasing the electorate.

Independence

Constitutional issues have traditionally dominated Plaid conferences as internal divisions emerged over the exact nature of leaving the United Kingdom.

But the Plaid Leader said she doesn't feel independence is an issue for the party, and it is not expected to play a major role in the speech.

She has confirmed we can expect reference to the party's constitutional policy, but said she felt people are now clear on where the party stands.

Leanne Wood has promised this speech will reach beyond the members in the conference hall and will look to give a flavour of her personality and ethos to the general public. But six months on from her election as leader, those Plaid members making the trip to Brecon will look for evidence they made the right choice when they chose her to succeed Ieuan Wyn Jones.

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