1. ITV Report

Plaid leader says she'll lead party into 2021 election

Leanne Wood was addressing Plaid Cymru's autumn conference in Caernarfon Photo: ITV News Cymru Wales
  • by Nick Powell

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has told her party's conference in Caernarfon of her determination to lead it for at least another four years.

The 2021 elections will be the first elections to a new Welsh Parliament ... an opportunity for political change.

Friends, Plaid Cymru must lead that change

And I intend to lead it, as our candidate for First Minister.

– Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood AM

She signalled her determination to strengthen her grip on her party -and increase its support from Welsh voters- in her keynote speech. After a Westminster election that saw Plaid's total vote drop, despite picking up an extra seat in Ceredigion, she said it was time to reconnect with the people.

Following this Conference I will be undertaking a full tour of community meetings across the country. The aim is to reconnect our party with the people in all communities, and to outline the arguments for decisions about Wales to be made in Wales.

The aim is to talk about how we can improve our democracy, to build a national network which embeds Plaid Cymru in towns and villages the length and breadth of the country.

We will build the foundations of our next manifesto on practical community action- Plaid Cymru in your street, building the nation and strengthening our communities.

– Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood AM

The Plaid leader has faced speculation about her future, partly fueled by remarks by the Ynys Mon AM, Rhun ap Iorwerth, that he'd like to lead the party one day. In his speech, he argued that if Plaid wants a newly confident Wales, there needs to be a newly confident Plaid Cymru. But with her talk of preparing the next election manifesto, Leanne Wood highlighted her determination to stay in post.

She also set out her approach to Brexit, arguing that the Welsh economy needs the UK to remain as close as possible to the European Union, even if the referendum result means that Britain must leave the EU.

We are not giving up the fight to stay in the European Single Market and Customs Union. Plaid Cymru has been rock solid on this question, since day one. There is no other post-referendum scenario which is better for the Welsh economy.

If the UK Government does pull all of the nations out of the Single Market, against the wishes of their governments and parliaments, they will trigger a constitutional crisis.

– Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood AM
There was a standing ovation when Welsh and Catalan flags were held up on the conference stage Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

Earlier there had been a demonstration of solidarity with Catalonia, when Plaid Cymru members who'd joined the protests in Barcelona, were joined on the stage by one of the Catalan nationalist leaders. Leanne Wood went so far as to compare the Spanish state's reaction to the unauthorised referendum on independence to actions of the Franco dictatorship,

I’m sure many of you, like me, will have watched with horror as their efforts toward self-determination were met by state violence. And now, those scenes have been followed by political arrests, and a threat to abolish Catalonia’s democracy.

Frightening scenes reminiscent of Franco’s days of fascism. History will condemn that repression, even if European countries and the EU Commission would not. I say shame on them.

Unlike the Welsh Government’s response, Plaid Cymru’s condemnation was unequivocal, and the government of Catalonia has thanked us for our support and for our solidarity, and asked that it continue in the months ahead.

– Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood AM