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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Iwan - Plaid wants independence
Dafydd Iwan
On Friday Iwan flexed his political muscle for the first time
Plaid Cymru's new president Dafydd Iwan says the party wants Wales to emerge from England's shadow and take its place among the world's nations.

In a hard-hitting speech - his first as Plaid leader - the first non-politician to lead the party underlined his aim of achieving full independence for Wales.

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

"We know what it means," Mr Iwan told delegates at Cardiff's St David's Hall.

It was the first time party members , who chose the folk singer and local councillor above former AM Cynog Dafis as president in a summer vote, had a chance to see the strength of Mr Iwan's politics.

Plaid's policy remains what it has always been...a full sovereign parliament for Wales
Dafydd Iwan
He left the gathering in no doubt of the strength of his feeling for the job.

His speech attacked Labour's record in Wales, accusing it of ditching "all its old socialist values in favour of creeping privatisation."

He also attacked Tony Blair on Iraq, saying that he had withheld part of his income tax in protest against "enforced contributions to pay for weapons of mass destruction".

He said he would now pay the money he owed, but would make the cheque out to "peaceful persons."

"To protect our democracy, we must constantly test it, or else it can become fossilised, and people can feel more and more removed from the processes of decision-making," said Mr Iwan.

Ieuan Wyn Jones
Ieuan Wyn Jones will address the party on Saturday

He said the party needed to tell the people of Wales of "our great successes" in local government.

He outlined in detail the achievements of the three Plaid-controlled authorities across Wales and challenged the media to carry out a "warts-and-all" investigation.

But the main theme of the speech, delivered in both Welsh and English, was of Plaid Cymru's often unstated aim of full independence.

"Plaid's policy remains what it has always been," Mr Iwan told the conference.

"A full sovereign parliament for Wales, drawing its power and sovereignty from the people, and able to decide on what terms we enter into partnership with the other nations of Britain, of Europe and the world."

"Plaid Cymru wants to see Wales emerge from England's shadow... We are ready to take our place in the sun. Move over Rhodri Morgan, you are standing in our light!"

On Saturday it is the turn of the former president Ieuan Wyn Jones, who was last week elected the party's group leader in the Welsh assembly.

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18 Sep 03  |  Wales
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