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Friday, 20 September, 2002, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Plaid Cymru 2002: Ieuan Wyn Jones speech
Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones delivers a keynote speech to the party's annual conference in Llandudno.
It focuses on health and the economy and the crisis in the Middle East, as the party builds up to the 2003 National Assembly elections.
Here is a full transcript of Mr Jones' speech to the conference:
Llandudno holds a special place in my heart. Here, two years ago I delivered my first speech as Plaid President.
And it has certainly been an immense privilege to be leading the party at such an exciting time. And thank you for putting your trust in me to continue the work for another two years, two years that I am certain will be among the most interesting and exciting in the party's recent history.
In our Spring Conference, we had an opportunity to thank three of Wales' political giants who will be giving up their Assembly seats next year.
I am referring, of course, to Dafydd Wigley, Cynog Dafis and Phil Williams. On behalf of everyone here, I extend my warmest thanks to you.
Since then, another member has confirmed that she will be standing down from the Assembly - Pauline Jarman. She is not doing so to retire - but to concentrate on her crucial role as leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf council.
And to lead the Council to a second victory in the 2004 local elections. She deserves the highest praise for the leadership she has shown to the Council.
Thanks to her, Rhondda Cynon Taf has been turned around from being a council in utter chaos under Labour to become a shining star in local government in Wales.
This is also an opportunity to thank our former chief executive, Karl Davies for his unique work over a period of nine years. He led the Central Office through the period that saw the biggest growth in Plaid's history.
A special thanks also to Anna Brychan for seeing to the work of the central office after Karl left. It was she who had to shoulder the task of organising this conference. And she has done a great job.
It is also a pleasure for me to welcome Dafydd Trystan to our midst as our new chief executive. Many of us are already familiar with him as a political pundit of renown. He will bring new skills to the job, and we as a party will greatly benefit from them, I am sure.
Crisis in the Middle East
Last year was an unusual year in that it was not an election year. Be thankful, I can hear you say! I hope we made the most of it, as we will not see another one for a while.
The Assembly election next year, European and county council elections in 2004, and another parliamentary election likely in 2005.
This conference is taking place at a time of international tension. Last year the horrific attack on the twin towers in New York occurred a few days before our conference.
This year, the dark clouds of war are casting a shadow over us, and the warmongering words of political leaders in the United States suggest that it is only a matter of time before a military attack on Iraq begins.
Already there is fierce opposition to this in most countries of the world, none more so than in the Middle East.
I will be coming back to this later on in my speech. It is enough to say at this point that the voice of Wales must be heard in this crisis, and that Tony Blair is not speaking for us at a time like this.
No, he should not give unquestioning support to George Bush but rather to listen to the voices throughout Britain that are asking him to pause and to reflect before rushing to a war for which there is no justification.
Here in Wales, we need to raise our sights and to turn the high hopes of the period after the referendum into a reality in people's minds - and even more importantly, in people's experiences.
After all, the aim after setting up the Assembly was to create an united and confident nation and to ensure that we would reach our potential as a nation. And Wales is a nation that has endless potential.
A nation with the raw materials to become among the most prosperous in the world. A nation that can make a significant contribution to the multicultural, multilingual world in which we live.
A nation that can play an honourable part in creating a fairer and more peaceful world.
But those high hopes were soon extinguished by a Labour Government in Cardiff Bay that lacks any direction, vision or ambition.
It's little wonder that the people of Wales have been disappointed. They are asking - and with every justification - where are the changes that would improve things - improve the economy, improve the health service and the education system?
All they have seen in Labour's Assembly is empty talk.
A government that runs the Assembly as some county council instead of a truly national institution, that would be a forum to discuss Wales' aspirations.
And what happened to the objective of uniting the nation?
Hasn't Labour's Assembly looked after the interests of an elite around Cardiff and forgotten about the rest of Wales? Labour's Assembly amounts to nothing more than Cardiff's Assembly.
Labour's attempt to govern the Assembly has been an abysmal failure. A total lack of vision, and no leadership.
And they seem to expect that attacks on the supporters of the Welsh language will somehow deflect criticism for their deficiencies. Yes, we have seen how Labour's anti-Welsh camp have been increasingly vocal over the past year.
A senior Welsh Labour MP even called for the abolition of S4C.
I have said it before, and I will say so again, these bigoted people are the enemies of the Welsh language.
'Govern the country'
Yes, Labour's Assembly has been a failure from the start. No leadership, no vision, no hope.
Our task therefore is to offer vision, leadership and hope to all the people of Wales.
It is a big task. But the prize is worth having. Accomplishing the purpose for which Plaid Cymru was established - to govern our country.
In little over 20 years we saw total despair turning into success. The bitter disappointment of 79 and the utter joy of 99. But the most important step is yet to come.
What we hear from the politicians of other parties is that Wales is inevitably poor. That we could not afford to be responsible for governing our own country. That we are totally dependent on the generosity of the British Treasury.
That is their story. A story of despair and sorrow. And a story that suits them well. A way of ensuring that Wales will never be anything other than a helpless appendage on England's western fringes.
Plaid Cymru's task is to challenge this negative vision and to attack it root and branch. And to assert that Wales could and should be one of Europe's most successful regions. That Wales' potential is immense.
The question is, how do we release that potential?
What Wales desperately needs is the leadership to realise the full extent of that potential. That things could be and should be much better.
And a leader and a party that is determined to see Wales raise its sights, and with the confidence and determination to do what is necessary.
Consider what we have:
And most important of all, a new enthusiasm for Wales and a desire to serve her among people from all walks of life. This more than anything is what can give the energy and enthusiasm to transform our country.
Success depends on a number of key factors:
And we must ensure that in four years' time we will be preparing for election to Wales' parliament.
Going back to the 2003 election, a core part of our programme for government will be to promote the economic development of Wales. And to ensure that that development reaches every part of Wales; that targets are being set to create jobs in all parts of Wales - and those to be quality jobs.
Particular attention will be paid to small and medium enterprises, and we will promote enterprise among the young people of Wales.
We will give an opportunity for people to create jobs and to work in their own communities, so that we can slow down the out migration that we are experiencing these days.
The priority must be to support the ventures of local people to create jobs in their own communities.
And the WDA and other agencies would be required to understand this. Less red tape, simplifying the application process for grants and ensuring that appropriate advice is given to help companies during the early years.
We must realise that we will not see the massive inward investment on the scale seen in the past, and therefore we must be ready to support enterprises on a much more local scale.
We must provide better training for young people so that they will have the skills to stay in Wales.
And we would, after consultation with the unions, embark on a radical programme of moving government jobs out of Cardiff to the rest of Wales. Labour's Assembly is a Cardiff Assembly. Plaid's Assembly will be an Assembly for the whole of Wales.
Improving the Health Service is at the top of our priorities. One of the first things we will do is to spend the money where it is really needed - that is on employing more doctors and nurses. Not on the endless revamping of structures and administration.
A Plaid Cymru government will fully commit itself to defend public services - and reject New Labour's privatisation plans. A Plaid Cymru government will strengthen the public sector.
We will be introducing the kind of programme that is in tune with the needs of Wales today, and the kind of programme that the people of Wales would expect from a government that realises Wales' potential.
A government that understands the needs of the people of Wales, and a government that will act on behalf of the people of Wales.
A government that believes in Wales and understands Wales; puts its loyalty to Wales and its people before party expediency and toeing the London line; has a clear vision for the future of Wales; agovernment that knows what it is going to do and where it wants to go.
Look seriously at what is the alternative.
Does Wales want to see another Labour Government and another four years of 'more of the same'!!?
What Wales needs is a Plaid Cymru government. And our responsibility is to ensure that Wales gets what it deserves.
We have already launched a series of policy documents. There are more to come. An I am in the process of delivering a series of keynote speeches - on Finance; creating a bilingual Wales; the economy; health and education.
Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of wishing Gwynfor [Evans] well on reaching his 90th birthday. And I know that I am speaking on behalf of you all by sending our greetings to him and to Rhiannon this afternoon.
And the greatest possible tribute we can give him is to redouble our efforts over the next few months to move Wales further forward on the path that he set.
Gwynfor, and others with him, persevered with the task of building our nation tirelessly and relentlessly through the decades. Thanks to the generations of Welsh men and women who demanded a future for our nation, we now have the opportunity to realise a dream - to govern our country.
Don't let us lose this historic opportunity to secure this major step forward in our history as a nation.
It is now five years since New Labour swept into power in the landslide of 1997. How high the hopes were then.
And how different is the reality five years on.
Look at their record: be it on the economy, on health, on public services or on law and order, New Labour has failed the people of Wales as well as the people of Britain.
The gap between rich and poor continues to grow.
And while the richer areas of Britain are flourishing the Welsh economy is struggling. Hundreds of manufacturing jobs are being lost every month - in the north, south, east and west. Farmers are living in poverty. Our young people are being forced out of their communities to find work.
The health service is in chaos. Hospital waiting lists are spiralling out of control. The postcode lottery is a painful reality for patients across Wales.
'Reform means privatisation'
New Labour has failed on health. And New Labour has failed on all our public services.
And what is New Labour's solution? Flog them off at a discount to the private sector.
Make no mistake, in New Labour Newspeak, reform equals privatisation.
Is it any wonder that all this has led to an unprecedented degree of cynicism in the political process? How can anyone have faith in politics with a government whose spin has proved to be so far removed from reality?
If there's one thing that people are absolutely fed up with, it's Labour spin.
And despite the spin of being tough on crime and on the causes of crime, the truth is that Labour has failed to tackle rising crime.
Whilst it is true that there are many people in jail who should not have been sent there in the first place, there are others who are either not caught, or are given sentences that are too light.
For those who take part in violent attacks on women, children, or our older citizens. We have to make it clear. Such attacks must not be tolerated, and should lead to lengthy prison sentences.
We should be doing far more to support the victims of crime - victims who are often neglected and left to fend for themselves. We must strengthen Victim support teams across Wales.
And what of New Labour's promised ethical foreign policy? That did not last long did it?
'Saddam is evil'
The threat of war with Iraq is casting a dark cloud over our conference.
President Bush seems determined to wage war on Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power, come what may. And Tony Blair - a Labour Prime Minister - is right there by his side.
Make no mistake, Saddam Hussein is an evil man at the head of an evil regime. Plaid Cymru has always condemned his actions. We were opposing him when western governments were still selling him arms! And we still oppose him.
But we have not seen any credible evidence that Iraq poses a threat to the United States or Britain.
This war will destabilise the entire middle east. It will lead to thousands of innocent casualties. Men, women and children who have already suffered massively through war and the imposition of sanctions.
Who will listen to the voices of the innocent when the bombs and the bullets tear through their homes, their schools their hospitals?
We cannot accept that war is right or justified.
And we should be devoting all our energies in promoting a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than creating further conflict in an already troubled region. By next May, it will be four years since Labour came to power in Wales.
And it will have been four years of massive disillusionment with the way Wales has been governed.
Governed did I say? Well sort of.
Critical of Labour
Have you heard Labour's Assembly Members trumpet the so-called successes of New Labour?
Have you heard Jane Hutt tell us how she's slowly turning round the NHS tanker. (Well slow it certainly is!).
Have you heard Andrew Davies tell us how well the Objective One Programme is going. (Well perhaps you hadn't noticed - perhaps you hadn't noticed Andrew Davies at all.)
Have you heard Edwina Hart say how wonderful it is that Tony Blair is letting us have some of the European funds that we were supposed to have anyway - and how dare we be so greedy as to demand the match funding that we're also supposed to have!
Have you heard Jane Davidson say that the lack of match funding isn't really stealing money from schools, colleges and universities?
And what of the Labour leadership in Wales?
Rhodri Morgan. Remember this.
It was Rhodri Morgan who was the Minister responsible for the fiasco of the Objective 1 programme, a programme which has been ridiculed in virtually every quarter.
It was he who decided to do two jobs, when he couldn't get to grips with one, and kept a seat warm for his coalition partner for over twelve months.
And he who believes than no one outside the M4 corridor is good enough to be in his Cabinet.
There we have it.
Rhodri Morgan and Labour in Wales have had their big chance. To deliver on the hopes and aspirations of the people who wished them well.
To have a clear vision; strong leadership; to deliver for all parts of Wales and not just for an elite around Cardiff; to be an uncompromising voice for Wales and her best interests; free of any Westminster dictat.
They have failed Wales, and failed us badly
The 2003 election will be a chance for the people of Wales to demand better.
And in 2003 we face our second Welsh General Election.
Do you remember the first? What a stunning performance we put in. Winning 30% of the votes. Winning 17 seats. Winning the Rhondda, Islwyn, Llanelli, Conwy, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. What a day that was!
Can I invite you to imagine what life would have been like if Labour had won an overall majority? On second thoughts, lets banish the thought from our minds. I know, it is too awful, even to contemplate!
We did well and exceeded all our expectations.
But May 2003 will be different. Let's make no mistake about it.
In 2003, we campaign to win! Because Wales needs us to win.
Because it's so important for the future of Wales that the real Party of Wales forms and runs the next Government of Wales.
And when we form the Government of Wales, we will know what to do. Unlike Labour, we know what we want to do.
Backed by the people's mandate we will demand the establishment of a Welsh parliament.
A proper parliament to do a real job for Wales.
And that parliament has to be in place by the 2007 election.
The parliament must have full legislative control over all devolved areas, and the same tax-varying powers as the Scottish Parliament. And powers over the police and the railways should also be transferred to Wales.
What's good enough for Scotland should also be good enough for Wales.
We will also be demanding a fair financial settlement for Wales to replace the now discredited Barnett formula.
[As a rather famous Englishman once put it, Give us the tools and we'll do the job.]
We need that real parliament to transform Wales. But the work must start now.
There is plenty of work to be done for Wales - and this is what a Plaid Cymru government in the National Assembly will do over the next four years.
In health we will prioritise GPs, nurses, consultants and beds over costly reorganisations and increasing bureaucracies. And we will target resources aimed at tackling health inequalities in Wales.
We will work with trades unions and workers to improve services in the public sector, and we will explore other forms of funding as an alternative to New Labour's obsession with privatisation;
We will ditch Labour's Thatcherite agenda on education and target resources so that all children in Wales receive a high standard of education whatever their background and wherever they live.
We will provide the necessary resources for the revitalisation of our national language and the creation of a truly bilingual Wales
We will improve and extend the Home Buy Scheme so that our young people can buy homes in their communities
We will develop our transport systems - road and rail - to unite Wales and strengthen North-South links.
We will develop a national jobs plan concentrating on well-paid, highly-skilled employment opportunities in every part of Wales; and in consultation with the trade unions we will move government jobs out of Cardiff to other parts of Wales
The Plaid Cymru Government of Wales will implement, not just talk about, Sustainable Development. Our water and renewable energy resources will be harnessed for the benefit of our businesses and communities;
In the former coalfield and quarrying areas, in particular the Valleys of the South, we will provide major investment in the physical infrastructure and in the regeneration of communities.
Plaid Cymru is clear on the way forward for Wales. And we have a programme to take Wales forward.
We are serious about the task. Because during these next four years, it is vital that Wales gets a government that will rise to the challenge of leading Wales.
Next May, the people of Wales will have a real choice. A choice between two parties - Plaid Cymru or New Labour - and the contrast between them could not be more stark.
One which is committed to transforming Wales and the other who has nothing to offer except more of the same.
Next May, our task will be to show the people of Wales that there is a viable alternative to the miserable failure and appalling record of our so-called Welsh Assembly Government.
A Plaid Cymru government will make the Assembly work for the whole of Wales - unlike the present Cardiff Labour elite.
A government that will offer real leadership in the face of difficult choices.
A government that is committed to turning the Assembly into an institution that commands respect for Wales.
In view of what the alternatives are, let me end with a direct message to the people of Wales.
Wherever you live in Wales, whatever your social class, whatever your ethnic background, whatever language you speak, Plaid Cymru the Party of Wales is the party that will stand up for your interests.
Plaid Cymru the Party of Wales is the only party that can prevent a Labour one-party state in Wales. The only party that can defeat the old Labour establishment that has kept Wales down all these years.
For the sake of Wales, for the sake of our children's future, they must go. And with your help and support they can be defeated.
We made good progress in 1999. We beat them in Rhondda Cynon Taf, we beat them in Caerphilly, we won in Gwynedd. Our Plaid councils are creating order out of chaos - after generations of old Labour misrule.
Next year help us to do even better. What we need is to bring about similar change throughout the whole of Wales.
And the only way to achieve this is by supporting Plaid Cymru - the one and only true Party of Wales.
I ask this party to respond to the challenge. And I ask you the people of Wales to give us the chance to show what we can do, together.
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