Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has given herself two hard a acts to follow at Plaid Cymru's conference. By the time she gets to her feet this afternoon, delegates will have already heard from Mark Serwotka, the leader of the PCS union, who's from Aberdare.
But top of the bill is the nationalists' heroine, the First Minister of Scotland Nicolas Sturgeon. The SNP leader, who looks set to increase her government's majority in next year's Scottish election, is making the trip to Aberystwyth this year.
Exchanges of speakers between the two parties are routine enough but it's become noticeable that although Leanne Wood has been happy enough to trek north, the SNP have generally left it to one of their more minor figures to return the compliment.
It's a sign of the close friendship between the two women, cemented when they both took part in the UK election debates earlier in the year. The kudos that Nicola Sturgeon gives to the conference outweighs any fears that Leanne Wood will be upstaged at her own party conference. The view at the top of Plaid Cymru is that they're resigned to constant comparisons between themselves and the SNP, so they might as well make the most of it.
Sure enough, any doubt that the Plaid can double its number of AMs and displace Labour as the biggest party in the Assembly is answered by pointing to the SNP's breakthrough in 2007, when it overtook Labour in the Scottish Parliament. It formed a minority government and went on to secure an overall majority four years later.
Plaid Cymru has identified the Welsh NHS as the key issue on which it will take on Labour.
Our Welsh NHS is being failed by Labour. We have fewer doctors per head than most countries in Europe, with Scotland having almost 50% more GPs than we do.
New drugs and treatments are often not available to patients simply because of the area they live in. We have the longest waiting times in Britain for people to be given tests that are crucial in diagnosing cancer.
We have the longest waiting times in Britain for people to start treatment, sometimes even when that treatment is lifesaving surgery.
The NHS can no longer be trusted in Labour’s hands. It can be trusted in Plaid Cymru’s."
Plaid Cymru is promising to spend on the Welsh NHS all extra money that comes to Wales as a result of in creased health spending in England. The party has ambitious plans to train a thousand extra doctors, set up specialist diagnostic centres for people suspected of having cancer and set up a new fund to pay for new medicines and treatments.
Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood has claimed that the draft Wales Bill is a feeble response to call for more devolution and shows that the Welsh Government is "failing to force proper powers for Wales from Whitehall's clutches".
The draft Wales Bill as it stands is an insult to our country. It only implements a fraction of the issues already agreed by all parties years ago through the Silk Commission report. Effectively, the Bill as it stands, enshrines Wales’ status as a second class nation in the UK. Throughout this process, Plaid Cymru has sought consensus on issues that all parties have signalled agreement on previously. We’ve worked constructively and have been prepared to meet others half way in order to do so. Sadly, the UK Government is unwilling to facilitated that sort of outcome and the Labour Welsh Government have proven that they are not taken seriously at UK level.
The battle of wills between Plaid Cymru's former leader Dafydd Elis Thomas and the party's current leader Leanne Wood comes to a head tonight at a special meeting of senior Plaid officials and constituency members in Porthmadog.
Lord Elis Thomas' refusal to always toe the party line has led to friction since Leanne Wood became Plaid's leader in 2012. Relations were briefly patched up after he faced disciplinary action for missing a vote in the Senedd but matters have come to ahead since the Westminster election in May.
He publicly criticised the election campaign for prioritising parity with Scotland rather than focussing on specifically Welsh issues, criticism that those close to the Plaid leadership say would have been more appropriately made in private. Friends of the Dwyfor Meirionnydd AM say he's found the party hierarchy unwilling to listen to his concerns.
Plaid Cymru's executive meets on Saturday and has the power to cancel Dafydd Elis Thomas' selection as candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd in next year's Assembly election. It would be an extraordinary and potentially damaging step to take against a man who was first elected as MP for the old Merionethshire seat in 1974.
Tonight's meeting, where he is expected to put his case, will test whether he still has the support of his local party. If he has its backing, the members of the party executive would have to ask themselves if they could really risk a split with the activists in Plaid Cymru's safest seat.
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has called for the Welsh Government to get income tax powers without the need to hold a referendum first. She told her party's conference in Caernarfon that Plaid's agreement with the other parties that there should be a referendum was no longer valid because Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats had all failed to back in full the recommendations of the Silk Commission on further devolution.
Leanne Wood said she expected Plaid's MPs to have the influence in a hung parliament to secure many of the party's demands. She said that they would start by insisting on an end to economic austerity.
Austerity is ideologically-motivated. It’s a policy with the aim of dismantling the state and social protection. It is not rooted in fiscal responsibility or economic sense. The experiment has failed. Plaid Cymru will end it.
In building post-austerity Wales, our country must have the tools to deliver not just a new constitutional framework, but to build a new society based on the aspirations of people in Wales.
In building post-austerity Wales, closing the resources gap between Wales and Scotland is crucial. The Barnett Formula has entrenched Wales’ disadvantage, every single year since its introduction in 1978.
An additional £1.2 billion for our public services and greater resources to strengthen our country’s economic prospects and end Wales’ fiscal dependency for once and for all.
We’ll take 70,000 Welsh businesses out of the rates system altogether and we’ll reduce the burden on thousands more. Plaid Cymru is ambitious for Welsh business and we know that we won’t realise our ambition of full employment in Wales without successful Welsh enterprises creating jobs and paying good wages.
The Plaid leader also called for a ring-fenced fund for new drugs and treatments, not ordinarily on the NHS. Requests from Welsh patients would be approved or rejected by a national panel, with no variations between health boards The requirement that patients demonstrate ‘exceptionality’ in order to be successful would be abolished.
Plaid Cymru's leader is warning that TV election debate plans could mean that 'the people of Wales [are] sidelined.' Leanne Wood's comments follow the news that Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage have said they're prepared to debate each other without David Cameron.
Number Ten sources have suggested the Prime Minister would consider a 5-party debate but that would still exclude Plaid Cymru and the SNP. The Plaid leader Leanne Wood has written to the other parties saying that if they remain excluded, the Westminster party leaders should take part in a debate held in Wales. She said:
At the moment there is a danger that people in Wales will be sidelined by the television debates. If the debates take place without Plaid Cymru and the SNP, then it is clear that the discussions will be dominated by England only matters, and devolved issued will not be taken into consideration.
People in Wales have a right to scrutinise the parties that could have an impact on their lives after the election. With the prospect of a hung Parliament becoming ever more likely, it is very possible that Plaid Cymru will hold the balance of power.
The people of Wales should have the opportunity to hold Plaid Cymru to account.
For this reason it is important that the leaders come to Wales and hold a debate here in Wales. Welsh voters should be given the chance to properly scrutinise the parties that will represent them after the UK general election.
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood says the Scottish referendum is not the end but only the beginning for devolution in the UK.
Speaking at the Scottish National Party Conference today, Leanne Wood called for Wales to have a say in all major UK decisions.
Our Political Editor Adrian Masters reports:
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has given a speech at the Scottish National Party conference in Perth.
She called for shared decision-making by all four UK nations in the future, with major policies needing a consensus between governments.
She also praised the impact of impact of the campaign for independence in the Scottish referendum.
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood will call later today for a new devolution settlement that will leave Wales and Scotland to decide what's still controlled at a UK level. She will add that even then any decision should require the agreement of the Welsh and Scottish governments.
In a speech to the Scottish National Party conference in Perth, Leanne Wood will set out how she expects the new system to work, now that there is all party support for Wales moving to the same "reserved powers" model as Scotland, where everything is devolved unless it is explicitly reserved to Westminster.
It is the peoples of the nations of the UK who are sovereign, not Westminster. That reality must be reflected as the relationships between our countries are reconstructed in the coming months.
Reserved powers should mean shared powers and let me make clear that a Plaid Cymru government from 2016 will insist on major decisions at a UK level requiring consensus between the governments.
The Plaid Cymru leader will praise the grass roots movement which campaigned for independence in the Scottish referendum and claim that "power will be delivered to the people" despite the defeat in September.
She will add that although a new state wasn't born, a new democracy has been built in Scotland, that "no party, no government can disestablish".
Plaid Cymru's annual conference has ended with Lord Dafydd Wigley backing the party leader Leanne Wood's call for more money for Wales. Our political reporter Owain Phillips reports from Llangollen.
Former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Wigley, who's running his party's 2015 Westminster election campaign, will tell Plaid's conference today that the only effective protest on behalf of Wales is made by voting Plaid Cymru. Lord Wigley will back the call by his successor, Leanne Wood, for Wales to get an extra £1.2 billion a year from the Treasury as part of a package to deliver partity with Scotland.
“In any discussion about future constitutional settlement, Wales demands parity with Scotland – full parity, not just parity of esteem, but parity of power – and parity of financial resources.
“If it isn’t immediate independence, it has to be much more than devolution – for power devolved is power retained – as we in Wales well know.
“It has to be a new partnership between nations on these islands; and we, here in Wales too, have to be part of that partnership.
“If Wales got as much, pro-rata, as Scotland gets in comparison to England, then our National Assembly would be getting £1.2bn more each year. The financial treatment of Wales has been a scandal – and this issue, above all others, must dominate the coming general election here in Wales.
“Plaid Cymru will use the next six months to demand for Wales full parity with Scotland. In funding, in our National Assembly’s powers, in our place within the UK as it evolves, and with other small nations within the EU.
“In the forthcoming election, there may be several ways in which the voters can protest, but protesting, of itself is not enough: it must be positive protest, protest to a purpose. And the only way of protesting for the purpose of getting Wales a new deal is to be voting for Plaid Cymru candidates the length and breadth of Wales.”