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.”
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has said her MPs won't back English votes for English laws until Wales gets an extra £1.2 billion a year.Read the full story ›
The leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood AM, is giving her speech at the party's conference in Llangollen. Our Political Editor Adrian Masters is there for us.
.@leannewood Plaid’s exclusion from TV debates will distort reality:‘the truth will not be televised.The case for Wales deserves to be heard
.@leannewood ‘We share distrust and anger at a system and establishment which is broken and has let Wales down time after time.
Although Plaid Cymru's main focus is normally on winning power in the Assembly, it's holding a very Westminster focused conference in Llangollen over the next two days. The party's leader, Leanne Wood, sees her speech later today as an important opportunity to get her General Election message across, as she gets far fewer opportunities than the leaders of other Westminster parties.
She'll call them "four shades of Westminster grey", a four that includes UKIP, the new rival that out polled Plaid in the European election. Leanne Wood claims that Plaid's mission is to provide a positive alternative to what she calls "the dark side of politics". She says she saw that alternative -the politics of hope- when she campaigned for a yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum.
The Plaid leader says the party could emerge from the election with five Westminster seats, up from its current three, and form a group with its SNP and English Green allies that could hold the balance of power. They would use that influence to push for a move away from austerity in economic policy and demand that policing, justice and control of natural resources are devolved to the Assembly, together with major tax and borrowing powers.
Plaid Cymru's health spokesperson Elin Jones has responded to what she calls the "turf war" between the UK and Welsh Health ministers by claiming that Wales does consistently lag behind both England and Scotland on key health indicators.
We have a Welsh Government that consistently sets itself lower targets on waiting times, access to diagnostic tests, and the ambulance service. It then fails to achieve these lower targets. When comparisons can be made between the 3 countries, then in some areas the Welsh performance is shockingly poor. Take for example, access times for an MRI scan. Only 1% of patients wait more than 6 weeks for an MRI scan in England, only 2% in Scotland, whilst 40% of Welsh patients are waiting more than 6 weeks. Other Welsh diagnostic waiting times fare no better.
The Welsh Government’s answer to this is that demand for these tests has risen. It is true that demand has risen. But the rise has been even greater in the other countries. Over a three year period, the number waiting for an MRI scan in Wales rose by 33%, in England by 41% and in Scotland by 62%. This is therefore no excuse for Wales’ unacceptably long waiting times.
Elin Jones added that Plaid Cymru wants to train and recruit 1,000 extra doctors and also re-examine the entire NHS workforce to "fundamentally realign our health and social care sector to finally integrate services fully". She claimed that it would lead to a system that could cater effectively for the elderly and frail, while keeping the NHS a free and accessible public service.
Plaid Cymru has claimed that the Welsh Government's budget proposals for 2015-2016 will create long term problems for the NHS. Plaid have been involved in previous budget deals but refused to negotiate with Labour this year in protest at the plans for an M4 relief road around Newport. The new budget is backed by the Liberal Democrats who also oppose the road scheme. It includes money for design work on the new motorway but if goes ahead, construction work won't start until after the 2016 Assembly election.
Today’s short-sighted budget from the Welsh Government delivers a vicious blow for the services that we rely on. The UK Government’s determination to shrink public services is being continued by the Labour Government in Wales. The Labour party is doing the Tories’ dirty work for them.
Protecting the health budget without protecting the social services that support them is short-sighted, and scaling back social care will only put more pressure on health services in the long run.
Plaid Cymru took the conscious decision to withdraw from budget negotiations because the Welsh Government committed this government, and many governments to come, to the flawed and expensive £1 billion M4 scheme when there were better options available.
The Labour government’s failure to manage budgets has meant that it has been living hand-to-mouth for many years, and this budget is a continuation of that theme.
Assembly members debate the proposal that the four nations in the UK are better together and that Scotland should remain in the UnionRead the full story ›
Plaid's Shadow Minister for the Economy, Rhun ap Iorwerth says the joint declaration to stick with the current funding formula is part of an eleventh hour panic by UK party leaders that puts Wales at a huge disadvantage. He claims it raises questions about what influence First Minister Carwyn Jones has with the Labour party at UK level.
Plaid Cymru has warned of a "grim" outcome for Scotland if it votes against independence next month and insisted that if the Scots leave the UK, Wales can benefit. The party has seized on polling evidence that the English want Scots to stop benefitting from public spending above the UK average.
The same poll showed that the Welsh agree with the English on this issue, although there's little support in either Wales or England for Scottish independence. Plaid is supporting the campaign by its SNP sister party for a 'yes' vote next month.
Public opinion in England on how Scotland should be treated if it votes ‘no’ paints a grim scenario for Scotland if its people vote against independence in the referendum. There could be public demand in England for a backlash against Scottish public expenditure and against the voting rights of Scottish MPs. This idea of ‘playing hard-ball’ with Scotland is not likely to help rebalance the UK or solve the problem of political and economic power being concentrated in the south-east of England.
Plaid Cymru maintains that the emergence of an independent Scotland would be in Wales' economic, social and political interests. We have said that following the Scottish referendum there needs to be a new era of self-government for Wales based on a reserved powers model, so that we have a more equal relationship between Wales, England and any other parts of the UK.