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Last Updated: Monday, 18 April, 2005, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Plaid pledges a 'fairer society'
Plaid Cymru's Adam Price, Simon Thomas and Elfyn Llwyd
Plaid Cymru's Adam Price, Simon Thomas and Elfyn Llwyd
Plaid Cymru has promised to campaign for shorter NHS waiting lists and improved pensions.

Launching its manifesto, the party also said turning the Welsh assembly into a "real" parliament would "mean a better Wales for everybody".

Plaid, which won four of 40 Welsh seats at the 2001 general election, unveiled its policies at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire.

It wants NHS walk-in centres to ease pressure on accident and emergency.

The assembly is not working. It cannot deliver for the people of Wales
Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid Cymru parliamentary leader
Plaid became the last of the four main parties in Wales to publish its manifesto with policies it said would lead to "a stronger economy and a fairer society".

The party came third in terms of the total vote in 2001, with 14.3%, although it won the second highest number of MPs.

READ THE MANIFESTO
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In both cases, Plaid was well behind Labour, and it is presenting itself as the genuine socialist party in Wales.

At recent elections, Plaid has been accused of hiding its true aims. But this manifesto states unequivocally that its ambition is "independence in Europe," and "a Wales which governs itself."

'Long journey'

Plaid was asked about the fact that, although it could never form the UK Government, its manifesto set out a range of policies on issues such as tax and foreign affairs.

Party policy director Simon Thomas said elections and manifestos were "just part of a long journey," culminating in independence.

Plaid Cymru leaders in the National Botanic Garden
Plaid leaders go walkabout in the National Botanic Garden
In the short term Plaid wants the assembly to gain law-making powers, as suggested in the Richard Commission report. It wants independence to follow, although the manifesto specifies: "Such a move could only be taken with the support of the people of Wales expressed through a referendum."

"The assembly is not working," said Elfyn Llwyd, the parliamentary leader. "It cannot deliver for the people of Wales. Our immediate aim is parity with Scotland, and later we will be looking to go further."

Mr Thomas denied suggestions that this was an argument against devolution. He said it was the assembly government that was failing, as well as the structures of the assembly.

On health, Plaid put forward a 12-point plan, including more use of GP surgeries for treatment, making it easier for people to move out of hospital, and extra support for carers.

Plaid also wants more use of the skills of nurses, physiotherapists, and social workers, a campaign to combat the hospital infection MRSA, and an extra 50 intensive care beds.

The party conceded, however, that it could not actually implement one of its proposals - that no more operations should be cancelled on the day surgery was planned. Mr Thomas, under questioning, acknowledged that that was aimed at institutional delays, rather than where medical decisions had to be taken.

'Junk food'

Plaid calls for a 50% tax rate on incomes above 50,000 a year, and the scrapping of council tax, to be replaced with a local income tax, and it wants a "citizens' pension" of 106 a week for a single person and 161 for a couple.

The party would ban unhealthy food and drink being advertised on children's TV, and urge schools to get rid of "junk food vending machines".

It also calls for drug and alcohol education in every school in Wales, and for pub and club owners to pay policing and health costs resulting from their customers' behaviour.

It would scrap what it described as the "expensive toys for the boys" ID cards proposed by the Labour UK Government.

Plaid backs renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. It backs giving extra support to allow people to use environmentally-friendly energy in their homes, such as mini roof wind turbines or solar panels.

The party also has, in its manifesto, a "people's contract" which all its candidates would follow. This includes continuing to call for the impeachment of Tony Blair over Iraq, a ban on smoking in public places, and opposition to university top-up tuition fees.

Plaid candidate Adam Price claimed strong evidence that Labour supporters were switching to his party because of the war. He said Plaid had even produced special posters for Labour voters to declare that, at this election, they were lending their vote to Plaid.





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BBC NEWS:VIDEO AND AUDIO
Analysis of Plaid Cymru's election manifesto