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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Iwan shines light on party faithful
Owain Clarke
at the Plaid Cymru conference in Cardiff

Dafydd Iwan has performed on stages the length and breadth of Wales.

His maiden speech to conference as the new president of his party at St David's Hall must rank as one of his most important performances.

Dafydd Iwan
Dafydd Iwan gave an animated performance

It certainly pushed the right buttons among delegates.

"Self-government, self-determination, autonomy, home rule, freedom, independence, full national status - call it what we will," he bellowed.

"We know what it means... Plaid's policy remains what it has always been - a full sovereign parliament for Wales."

But why is that so important? The answer came soon enough.

"Independence" he growled, meant having the right to say "no, not in the name of Wales" to any future plans to engage in an "unjust and illegal war".

The audience immediately rose to its feet.

But it was not only his words that seemed to hold the audience's attention.

His voice and body seemed to be in concert. He waved his arms, clenched his fist, pointed skywards and directly at his audience.

Ieuan Wyn Jones
Former president Ieuan Wyn Jonse was among the audience

At one point, it seemed that an audience member was engaging in a bizarre game of mimickry - raising her arms aloft in quasi- evangelical adulation.

In fact she was merely agreeing with his call for more Welsh-medium primary schools in Caerphilly.

There were many other flashes of colour in his 50-minute address.

But it was when his attention turned to New Labour that Dafydd Iwan's face turned positively crimson.

"We are ready to take our place in the sun. Move over Rhodri Morgan - you are standing in our light," he proclaimed.


Emerging from the hall, the party faithful basked in the light of the former folk singer.

"Fantastic" appeared to be the word of choice of many loyalists.

Dafydd Iwan
Dafydd Iwan spoke for 50 minutes at the conference

Gareth Jones, former AM for Conwy, positively gushed: "If this speech can't inspire and invigorate the party then I don't know what will."

After the disappointment of the Welsh assembly election and the tension and squabbling that followed, at the bar it seemed a buzz had returned to party members.

A buzz inspired by a well-crafted piece of charismatic orotary.

As student member Ifan Rhys said: "It's something that has been missing since the days of Dafydd Wigley".

To his audience, Dafydd Iwan, musician and Plaid Cymru president, had struck precisely the right chord.

The BBC's Wyre Davies
"Dafydd Iwan made his position on independence clear"

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