'We're Not Here to Manage Wales. We're Here to Change It' Plaid Throw Down Gauntlet with Pledge to Connect with Voters

Article excerpt

Byline: David Williamson

SUPPORTERS of Plaid Cymru who gathered in Llandudno were yesterday given a vision of their party in power for a generation.

Rank and file members at the annual conference were urged to put fears of failure aside as the party prepared to make an unprecedented attempt to connect with people from different backgrounds across Wales.

Plaid leader and Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "We must reach out and listen to what people say and share Plaid's message with those people in a way they have never seen or heard before...

"We are the party for everyone in Wales, whatever their language, whatever their background and wherever they live."

The party will launch its "biggest ever consultation" in the run-up to the 2011 Assembly elections. It wants to use this idea-gathering exercise both as a means of winning new supporters and crafting innovative policies.

It fell to Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones to fire warning shots at Labour leadership hopefuls who may be tempted to renegotiate elements of the coalition.

She portrayed Labour as a "nervous" party as it waited for First Minister Rhodri Morgan to announce his retirement and for the leadership race to officially commence.

Urging supporters to respond to turbulence ahead with calm, she said: "If [the race begins], over the next few months then Plaid Cymru will, I have no doubt, find itself in the firing line.

"It would be a pretty timid Labour leadership contest if the candidates and their spokespeople didn't have a go at Plaid Cymru or the coalition...

"We should ignore those shenanigans.

"We should allow Labour to dwell on their internal insecurities and keep our focus on the job in hand, governing Wales and delivering One Wales."

She insisted that this coalition agreement could not be altered, saying: "[We] will, of course, expect the Labour leader to deliver a full commitment to delivering One Wales. It is non-negotiable.

"The personalities and trust between party leaders and chief negotiators play a huge role in forming coalitions - but once negotiated the coalition is in the ownership of the two political parties on behalf of the people of Wales.

"No one person, not even one of the party leaders, can start to pick and choose or tinker with the content."

She moved to scotch spec-ulation that the referendum on law-making powers which the two parties have pledged to work towards will not be put off until after 2011. …