Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 18:12 UK

Plaid challenges Brown over poll

By Ciaran Jenkins
Political reporter

Elfyn Llwyd MP
Parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd said the party needed to increase membership

Plaid Cymru's parliamentary leader has challenged Prime Minister Gordon Brown to call a general election.

Elfyn Llwyd told Plaid Cymru's autumn conference in Aberystwyth that the party is ready to go to the polls.

Mr Llwyd, the Merionnydd Nant Conwy MP, told delegates the party would make gains and achieve the best result in its history.

But he warned the party would need to attract members to emulate the SNP's recent successes in Scotland.

Mr Llwyd accused Labour - which shares power with Plaid in the Welsh Assembly Government - of turning its backs on people in Wales.

"People are undoubtedly suffering in Wales because of decisions made by the Labour government in London," he said.

No matter how many amazing policies we may have, we still need people
Elfyn Llwyd MP
"They have been betrayed by the Labour Party - a party many of them have traditionally supported."

Mr Llwyd twice emphasised the need for Plaid to increase its membership in order to aspire to gains like the SNP's recent by-election success in Glasgow East.

He told a largely-empty conference hall the SNP had 300 campaigners to help it overturn a huge Labour majority in that constituency, while Plaid would usually be lucky to attract just 30.

"No matter how many amazing policies we may have, we still need people," he said.

That was a key message in Mr Llwyd's campaign for the party's presidency, which ended in defeat earlier this week.

Mr Llwyd said that episode was now over and pledged his full support for the successful candidate, folk singer Dafydd Iwan.

Further powers

Earlier in the day Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones met local fishermen in Aberystwyth before hitting out at the other mainstream parties for being "superficial" in their approach to Wales in the conference's opening speech.

"Since devolution, change for them has meant little more than picking up a Welsh flag and draping it around them when the occasion fits and the audience is right," she said.

The conference, at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, continues until Saturday afternoon.

On Friday, party leader and Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones will reject claims that a referendum on further assembly powers will not be held on or before the next assembly election in 2011.

Mr Jones is expected to say that if there is support for full law-making powers "then it should happen" and suggest that a "new confidence in Wales" could help the process.

Dafydd Iwan, the newly re-elected party president, will explain how he hopes to get the party to expand its membership and embrace new technology, in a speech on Saturday.

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