Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Saturday, 12 September 2009 17:08 UK

Price warns of Tory 'war on poor'

By Adrian Browne
BBC News

Adam Price MP
Adam Price is widely regarded as a likely future leader of Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price has accused Conservatives of planning a "war on the poor" as he warned of the "dangers" for Wales of a Tory general election win.

He said Conservatives would "slash the benefits of hundreds of thousands of Welsh claimants in the middle of the biggest economic crash since the 30s".

Mr Price told his party conference the plan for incapacity benefit was "the modern equivalent of the workhouse".

The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP is often viewed as a future Plaid leader.

Mr Price described a future "battlefield" between the "progressive left" of Plaid and a Conservative "regressive right".

He told the conference in Llandudno that Plaid must win that debate "for the most vulnerable". Mr Price, who is regarded by many in Plaid as the natural successor to current leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, spoke of his frustration at being an MP.

Nick Bourne AM, Welsh Conservative leader
No man who betrayed his country so enthusiastically could ever earn the right to lead it
Adam Price on Welsh Conservative leader Nick Bourne, pictured

He said: "I will never feel that I belong in that Parliament, though I have to breathe its dust-laden air.

"I want a Parliament which belongs to me and to us. A Parliament that we have built in whose stones our horizons sing" - an allusion to the phrase on the front of the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay.

Referring to the Welsh Conservative leader, who led the No campaign in the 1997 devolution referendum, he said: "Who can forget Nicholas Bourne beaming before Carmarthenshire's votes were counted, thinking that Wales had collectively voted itself out of existence for the second time in our history, had chosen the life of a vassel not a victor?

"I never want to see a smile like that again. No man who betrayed his country so enthusiastically could ever earn the right to lead it."

Mr Price, the MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, who is widely regarded as a future party leader, argued that Conservatives would seek to put a "brake" on progress in Wales.

Plaid is making more attacks on the Conservatives at this conference than for many years, anticipating a defeat of Gordon's Brown Labour government on polling day.

Dafydd Iwan, Plaid Cymru president
We believe in independence because we want to give our young people a fair chance in life
Dafydd Iwan, party president

Plaid president Dafydd Iwan rounded off the final day of the conference with an at times emotional address which referred to the military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We believe in independence because we want to give our young people a fair chance in life," said Mr Iwan.

"If they decide to join the armed forces we can look them in the eye and say, 'We will never send you to fight illegal, immoral, unwinnable, pointless wars'."

Parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd repeated the party's prediction that it could increase its number of MPs to well above the current total of three.

"I genuinely believe we can more than double our representation at Westminster," said Mr Llwyd, the Meirionnydd Nant Conwy MP.

Mr Llwyd said this was "firmly within our grasp" and predicted that Plaid could then "do a huge amount of work for this country".

'Celtic bloc'

Meanwhile, delegates applauded a Scottish National Party (SNP) speaker who defended the Scottish Government's release of the Lockerbie bomber.

The SNP's leader in the House of Commons, Angus Robertson, said a "record number of Plaid and SNP MPs" needed to be elected to form a "Celtic bloc".

Mr Robertson said this could provide a "block on cuts" to services like the NHS, and on "financial attacks" on devolved governments in Wales and Scotland.

There was repeated and warm applause when Mr Robertson defended the SNP Scottish Government's decision to release Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of killing the people who died when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie in 1988.

Mr Robertson insisted that by making the "difficult and correct semi-judicial decision, regardless of party political considerations, that Scottish democracy grew in stature".

Earlier, the Plaid leadership succeeded in watering down a motion which would have called for the party to oppose the development of the defence training academy at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The amendment passed "recognises the opposition within Plaid Cymru" to the scheme".

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