Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Saturday, 4 April 2009 16:42 UK

'Put jobs before bankers' - Plaid


Ieuan Wyn Jones on Plaid Cymru's policies for the recession

Plaid Cymru Leader Ieuan Wyn Jones wants the UK Government to prioritise 'real jobs in the real economy' rather than financial institutions.

In his speech to Plaid's spring conference, the deputy first minister said: "Plaid Cymru is calling for a fiscal stimulus during this recession.

"A stimulus targeted at real jobs in the real economy not at banks."

He also said there is no better time than the recession to campaign for a more powerful Welsh Assembly.

Speaking at the conference in Cardiff, he said it was time for the Prime Minister to "change course" and regulate the economy properly.

He called for "a fiscal stimulus, not for banks and insurance companies in the City, but for people and the people of Wales".

But Mr Jones, who serves as Deputy First Minister and Minister for the Economy and Transport in the Labour-Plaid coalition Assembly Government, warned that Wales is on course for "financial squeezing" rather than "quantitive easing".

There's no better time to argue for more self government
Ieuan Wyn Jones

He claims UK government proposals would cut at least £500m from the Welsh budget.

Plaid Cymru has called on the UK government to introduce a stimulus package worth approximately £3bn in Wales which the party claims "will create and save" 40,000 jobs between now and 2011.

Mr Jones said the financial crisis had exposed the need for further devolution in Wales.

He said he treated each day in his job "as another step on the road to greater self-determination".

"There's no better time to argue for more self government," he told delegates.

"Some will say the recession isn't a time we should be asking for a referendum. I disagree.

"The recession makes the need for greater powers even more stark."

Students at degree ceremony
Plaid Cymru has had recent spats over student support in Wales

A majority of voters had expressed their desire for a "proper Parliament" in Wales through opinion polls, he said.

"It is becoming the clear preference of the people of Wales," he said.

Referring to public splits in the party over the ending of a grant which offsets the cost of top-up fees for Welsh students studying in Wales, Mr Jones warned that refusing to make "difficult compromises" with Plaid's Labour partners would lead to a "breakdown in government and endanger what we have set out to achieve".

He added that this would be particularly damaging "at a time when many people in Wales fear for their jobs".

Other speakers on the conference's second day included Westminster group leader Elfyn Llwyd, who accused the Prime Minister of being "blinded and dazzled" by the "city folk" in the run-up to the recession.

Mr Llwyd said that as a result the Mr Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling "did nothing", failing to heed the warnings that a credit crisis was developing.

The MP poured scorn on what he said was a joke by the Prime Minister that Wales could not "exist on its own feet during the economic storm".

"How long can we now afford not to stand on our feet?" he added.

Party President Dafydd Iwan also spoke at the conference and warned "we cannot trust any more in the capitalist order as it was."

He said Plaid Cymru's new message was of the need to create "a new world order...putting people first".

Plaid's director of elections Adam Price MP and director of policy Nerys Evans AM also addressed the conference.

Mr Price urged the people of Wales to join the debate on the referendum for further powers for the National Assembly.

He said: "The truth is we are the only generation ever in Welsh history that has its destiny within our own hands.

We can't confine our vision for Wales by what's devolved, what's not devolved and what we can do within the current constitutional settlement
Nerys Evans

"Let's seize that opportunity with those hands. Not to demand a referendum will be a vote of no-confidence not in our government but in our own nation."

The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP claimed the Westminster government shows "bias" towards the south east of England and that this demonstrates the importance of Wales being able to make its own decisions.

He argued that in London unemployment has fallen by 33,000 over the last year in comparison to a rise of 28,000 in Wales.

Plaid's director of policy Nerys Evans told BBC Wales that although the party is in government in the assembly and some local authorities, it needs to develop a policy and a vision for Wales "outside those institutional silos".

Ms Evans said: "We can't confine our vision for Wales by what's devolved, what's not devolved and what we can do within the current constitutional settlement.

"Our vision has got to be much wider than that, and going into each election then we've got to see - whatever institution we're trying to fight seats for - how we can deliver those steps towards our aspirations for our nation."

Plaid's politicians no longer seem ambivalent about using the word "independence" to describe the party's constitutional aim.

The party recently launched a website,, specifically to promote that objective and Plaid's deputy assembly group leader Helen Mary Jones's speech is on her vision of an independent Wales.

South Wales Central AM Chris Franks said Plaid's role in the assembly's coalition government had been crucial in addressing economic woes and paid tribute to Mr Jones' work as minister for the economy.

He said: "He has introduced the training programmes REACT and PROACT that help people at risk of losing their jobs or who have actually lost their jobs.

"Also Ieuan is bringing forward building programmes, road schemes, railway schemes."

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