Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 17:53 UK

Beautiful folk join Plaid parade

By Adrian Browne
BBC News

Ieuan Wyn Jones on the speaker's podium
Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones speaks in front of an admiring platform

Before arriving in Llandudno for the Plaid Cymru conference, a BBC colleague with one or two more grey hairs than me was waxing lyrical about the rather chaotic world of Plaid Cymru conferences in the past.

"What time will (then party leader) Gwynfor (Evans) be speaking?" anxious reporters would ask.

"This afternoon," would come the reply.

Could they be more specific? "No," was the response.

How things have changed.

Speakers here at Venue Cymru, traditional home to such events, wait in the wings before striding onto stage, to strict timings that would make the Swiss railway service proud.

It is a cliche to talk about little being left to chance at political conferences these days but, having missed a few recently, I'm able to view happenings here with a relatively fresh pair of eyes.

I'm struck again by the practice Plaid has been using for some time of lining up "beautiful people" behind the politician speaking, livening up the image to the world.

Strumming away

These younger women and men don't always look comfortable on parade.

Watching their elders' rears under the bright glare of TV lights is perhaps not the best way to fully digest a speech but, if it helps the cause...

Speaker at Plaid conference
Speakers at Plaid's conference come and go to a strict timetable

There was another wonderful example of the efforts parties can go to to present themselves as fresh and more like the rest of us as I arrived in the conference centre on Thursday morning.

A musician was strumming away enthusiastically on his guitar and the repetitive nature of some of his renditions had some delegates, and a fair number of journalists, rolling their eyes and appearing to be in some distress.

With due respect to the performer concerned, who no doubt knows his musical onions, I got the distinct impression some Plaid members felt their party was at this point trying that bit too hard to be hip.

But perhaps I'm being a bit of a philistine.

And, in the spirit of openness that pervades today's BBC, I must admit that, fresh eyes or not, I was kept awake until 5am by the partying in the next hotel room to mine and this might just have influenced my lack of enthusiasm for these particular musical notes.

A quick trip across to the promenade later allowed me to spend a little time chatting randomly to people enjoying the weather.

Basking in sunshine

In among many visitors from various parts of the UK, would-be Welsh voters were generally unaware of the conference taking place a few hundred yards away.

None, including a lifelong Labour supporter, was particularly hostile to Plaid. But it was a struggle to find people who thought the party was the way to go at the coming general election.

Not that there was much enthusiasm for any of the political parties.

Perhaps, with walkers basking in the sunshine they've missed over much of the summer, my questions about politics were never going to elicit much enthusiasm.

But, in the highly unlikely event that I was to be involved in the running of a political party, I suspect I'd consider any legal trick in the book to try to get voters to listen to my message at these difficult times for our politicians.



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