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Saturday, 17 March, 2001, 12:32 GMT
Plaid battle to get back on course
Ieuan Wyn Jones, Plaid president
Ieuan Wyn Jones - targetting the south Wales valleys
Plaid Cymru will be hoping to put recent difficulties behind them as they gather in the south Wales valleys for a crucial pre-election conference.

Members heard party president Ieuan Wyn Jones launch a stinging attack on Labour on Saturday, accusing the party of using dirty tricks and of having let Wales down.

Plaid Cymru logo
Plaid have to overcome embarrassments
Recent weeks have been turbulent for Plaid Cymru, dogged by the controversy surrounding the outspoken comments of one of its councillors, Seimon Glyn.

Mr Glyn - chairman of Gwynedd County Council's housing committee - sparked a furore when he told a BBC radio programme that the number of English people moving to Wales should be strictly monitored - and that they should be made to learn Welsh.

His comments followed a report warning that traditional rural Welsh communities could die out because of rocketing house sales.

Complaints began to flood in when he said: "In my opinion, it is no use to the community to have retired people from England coming down here to live and being a drain on our resources."

Apologies

And, he added : ""We are faced with a situation now where we are getting tidal waves of migration, inward migration into our rural areas from England, and these people are coming here to live to establish themselves here, and to influence our communities and our culture with their own."

Although Mr Glyn subsequently issued an apology to anyone who might have been offended by his comments, he has since said he has no regrets about making his comments.

And he added insult to injury earlier this week when, speaking to BBC Wales, he accused Plaid of sweeping the Welsh language issue under the carpet.

"I believe other issues have come to the top of their agenda and I believe that they have been more preoccupied recently with gaining more power in the National Assembly - and possibly ignoring this very real threat to the Welsh language," he said.

Gwynedd Plaid councillor Seimon Glyn
Seimon Glyn's views clash with the image Plaid wants
There was yet more embarrassment to come for Plaid.

In the same television programme, Mike Brittain, a Plaid councillor in Rhondda Cynon Taff said: "The English have raped every country they'd been to - they've taken the well-being out of the country."

He later retracted his comments and issued a full apology. The party's chief executive Karl Davies has referred the comments for investigation under the party's agreed protocol with the Commission for Racial Equality.

Mr Brittain has been given a formal reprimand and has resigned temporarily from the party while he undergoes a course of training on equality issues.

The party's president has been criticised over his handling of recent events.

But during the conference this weekend, he will attempt to hit back, claiming that his party is a party for the whole of Wales.

It has come as no surprise that Plaid chose the Rhondda as a location for the conference. They already hold the constituency at Welsh Assembly level, and it is just the kind they must win at Westminster level to prove that they really can break through in the former mining valleys.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Guto Harrie
"A Westminster contest is a different ball game"
See also:

14 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Parties will not exploit race issue
21 Feb 01 | Wales
Words that sparked a furore
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