Page last updated at 17:22 GMT, Saturday, 25 February 2006

Plaid optimism with image change

By Rona Campbell
BBC Wales political reporter

Plaid's old and new logos
The triban logo (top) has been replaced by the Welsh poppy

Plaid Cymru will come out of its spring conference with a new look and, its leader hopes, a new optimism.

After a tumultuous five years that has seen Plaid's support fall from its 1999 high-water mark, party leaders hope they have put new systems and people in place that will turn the tide in their favour.

Plaid has a new campaigns unit, a new communications director and has resolved who is its official leader.

Ieuan Wyn Jones has taken political charge of the party, relegating other members of its collective leadership to the sidelines.

But his desire is not just to sort out internal party matters.

He wants the conference to mark the start of a more positive period for the party in the eyes of the people of Wales.

He said the leader's speech had to appeal to the audience in the conference but also to the wider Welsh public.

His view is that while Plaid is in the process of change with a new logo and new image, it has to be "more substantial than that".

Ieuan Wyn Jones
It's about a new approach to politics. It's about regaining trust
Ieuan Wyn Jones

"It's about a new approach to politics," he said. "It's about regaining trust."

Most controversially, the party has also dumped its 70-year-old triban logo - the oldest party symbol in the UK.

Commissioned in 1933, the Richard Huws-designed logo was intended to signify the three mountains of Wales.

The mountains were supposed to represent three key Plaid Cymru values: self-government, cultural prosperity and economic prosperity.

But now the party has adopted a new logo (the Welsh poppy) as well as a new colour, yellow.

And from now on, the party will just be known as Plaid in its branding.

But a quick paint-job is unlikely to be enough to revive the party's fortunes.

New policies are due to be unveiled over the next 12 months as a raft of policy commissions report and the party will attempt to portray itself as the only viable alternative government to Labour.

Voter appeal

Political commentator Non Gwilym said: "They're trying to promote an image of a party which isn't new necessarily but is evolving, changing and is listening to what the members want and what the people of Wales want."

The party also launches a scathing attack on the record of Rhodri Morgan's government - particularly its failure to fulfil the manifesto promise of free personal care for disabled people.

The party will try to claim the credit for a number of concessions forced out of the assembly government on issues such as student tuition fees.

Party leaders say their aim is to truly be the only real Welsh socialist party, appealing to every voter across Wales.

They say they are confident that the "growing pains" they suffered since the assembly was set up are now over.

But with a resurgent Conservative Party threatening Plaid's status as the official opposition in Cardiff Bay, it faces a difficult task.



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