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Monday, 5 March, 2001, 13:20 GMT
Plaid Cymru

For three-quarters of a century, Plaid Cymru, the "party of Wales", has fought for self-government in Wales.

It argues for the preservation of the Welsh culture, language, and traditions.

But these policies have become less clear-cut in recent years.

At last September's annual conference there was a lengthy debate about whether the party should continue fighting for full devolution or "full nation" status in Europe.

Ieuan Wyn Jones
Ieuan Wyn Jones: Welsh language should be a uniting force
And the long-running battle over the status of the Welsh language has eased, to the relief of the party's leadership.

Ieuan Wyn Jones, elected leader in 2000, said the Welsh language should be a force to unite Welsh people rather than create divisions.

The party entered a new era In 1999 when the new Welsh Assembly came into being.

Plaid Cymru won 17 of the 60 seats, winning about one in three votes.

Status in Europe

Mr Wyn Jones - who became leader when Dafydd Wigley resigned following ill-health - said last year that Wales should have as much control over its affairs "as is possible and necessary".

He stopped short of calling for devolution.

"We want power for Wales, not for its own sake, but in order to bring about changes that can improve the lives of the people of Wales," he said.

Speaking on the same issue Guto Bebb, a former chairman of Caernarfon constituency party, explained further: "We are looking for a status that is comparable with other nations in Europe.

"Whether that means continued links with Westminster is a matter to be discussed."

Socialist

The party has based its policies on socialist principles since its inception in 1925.

Today it is calling for a 5 an hour minimum wage and a greater support for co-operatives and the voluntary sector.

The first Plaid Cymru MP entered Westminster in 1966 and the party has maintained an unbroken presence in the House of Commons since 1974.

In the coming election Plaid Cymru has said it will argue for the assembly to be given taxation rights and new responsibilities for the police and railways.

It has also called for an end to the dominance of supermarkets in the agricultural marketplace and would like to see a stronger link between Welsh food and produce with the tourist industry.

'Abolish' league tables

In education it has called for the abolition of published school league tables and an end to teachers' pay based on pupils' performance.

The party currently has four seats in Westminster and two MEPs.

In local elections it won 18% of the vote in 1999, winning 205 seats, double its previous proportion.

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