Adam Price's Annual Conference speech in full
Adam Price's full speech to Plaid Cymru's annual conference in Llandudno, October 2022.
Gyfeillion, it’s been a while but it’s great to be back in Llandudno and to gather again in person at Annual Conference for the first time in three long and languid years.
In that time we’ve had two Prime Ministers with a third on the way, four Chancellors, three Home Secretaries and three Foreign Secretaries – and Larry the Downing Street cat has outlasted them all. Forget about nine lives – that’s thirteen political careers superseded! Unlucky for some.
Mark Drakeford didn’t get that phone call after all. Let that be a lesson – in Wales we should always make our own calls.
I could start with the circus that is Westminster – and there’s plenty to say and don’t worry I’ll say it – but no Plaid Cymru leader has ever been dictated to by the Tory party so I’ll start as I always do by invoking the local as a segue to the speech.
And I've got to be honest........the 200 Kashmir goats roaming free and "one of the longest toboggan runs in the United Kingdom” posed a challenge which nearly defeated even me!
But friends, this beautiful area is of course steeped in a history as rich as the veins of the Gogarth copper mines once were.
Llandudno – like Llandeilo, Llanfyllin, Llanelli and Llangollen – has its own tale to tell.
Woven together with every Llan, every town, every city, every village, every valley, the fabric of Wales is formed. The rainbow-coloured tapestry, the warm Welsh quilt that cwtches you close, that knits together this great small nation that we call Cymru.
Today, I want to share with you my vision for the next chapter in our party's history – building a Cymru For All.
And who could better capture the stirring spirit of that Cymru than our late, great friend, Eddie Butler.
Yn gynharach clywsom lais melys, hudolus ein cyfaill Eddie - un a ddaeth yn hwyrach i blith y mudiad annibyniaeth ond a ddangosodd fwy o angerdd, mwy o dân a mwy o awch i weld Cymru’n ffynnu na phrin unrhyw un arall o’n cydwladwyr.
Oherwydd gwyddai Eddie’r dewin geiriau bwysigrwydd hawl ein cenedl i adrodd ei stori ei hun.
I ddweud fod Cymru yma - yma o hyd - yn unigryw, yn hyderus ac yn mynnu sefyll ar ei thraed ei hun. I ganu ein can, i sgwennu ein symffoni, ac i wneud gobaith yn anthem ein cenhadaeth
We remember Eddie for prose that shimmered like poetry.
When in our midst these past few months, he was at his articulate, authoritative, and amiable best – doing the hard yards like the stand-out back rower that he was – launching our manifesto, speaking at our conference dinner in the spring, and presenting the case for independence in the film we have just enjoyed.
Eddie Butler - forever remembered as the soundtrack of our past and the voice of our future.
Diolch am bopeth. Cwsg mewn hedd Eddie Mawr.
When lacing his boots or lifting his microphone, Eddie would have known that winning is not a strategy– it’s an outcome. And not even the final one.
The scrum won against the head, the line-out steal or the try-line interception – these are the duels won on the path to something greater.
But in politics like sport the final whistle never truly blows. Much as there’s always a league to win or a cup to lift, there’s the next debate, another vote.
Never a truer word was spoken than by the American playwright and historian Donald Freed who remarked that in politics, victory is never total.
When Labour Senedd members voted against introducing universal free school meals in primary schools – they won the vote but not the argument.
We persisted and we prevailed, and 45,000 children already are benefiting, with more to come over the weeks and months ahead.
For us that victory is the starting-point not the end-point, as we now want to win the battle for children in secondary schools too – even more important in the grip of the cost-of-living crisis.
Progress comes from knowing how to turn these little victories, the small steps we make today, into that great leap of imagination that is a better tomorrow.
Eddie, drawing on that deep well of generosity for which he was famous, wrote to me following last year’s election.
“Courage, Adam. This was never going to be anything but a long road. You’re not in the chair yet, but come to think of it, striding out on that road is much better than being sedentary. As the pandemic has shown us, the great outdoors is the place to be, and nowhere has a better such place than Wales.”
In the Spring I talked about the Long Win, the hard yards, the ups-and-downs, the jagged zig-zag reality of our progress as a nation. We need the resilience as well as the eye for opportunity of those Llandudno goats.
Ond rhan o wydnwch ydy dathlu ein llwyddiannau, ac mae Plaid Cymru mewn mwyafrif yng nghyngor sir Ynys Môn, Ceredigion, Gwynedd a Sir Gaerfyrddin – y mwyaf mewn cyfanswm erioed yn ein hanes, ac yn rhan o’r Grwp rheoli yn darparu gwasanaethau allweddol ar gyfnod argyfyngus hefyd yma yng Nghonwy, yn Sir Ddinbych, yng Nghastell Nedd Port Talbot a Sir Benfro.
Over the summer, our party, Plaid Cymru, has been asking itself how we can win for Wales.
I want to thank each and every one of you for taking part in the most wide-ranging consultation in the party’s 97-year history. True to our proud tradition of being a member-led movement, our path towards and beyond our centenary celebrations will be shaped by you and for you.
We have probed and problem-solved in equal measure, and by standing shoulder to shoulder with each other, as we deliberated and debated, like the Catalan castell, those human pyramids on the squares and streets of Barcelona and beyond, we can see further because we have built the most solid base possible for our vision: our trust in one another.
Because this exercise, this conversation was never about being inward-looking but being forward-looking. Looking forward because we know the best for Wales is yet to come.
Understanding who we are as a nation, who we can be and where we’re heading is the first step in convincing our fellow Cymry to come with us. A fo ben bid bont. A fo bont bid yn aelod o Blaid Cymru.
In a summer of drought, we turned on the taps and searched deep in our collective reservoir of dreams and ideas.
We may not always agree on everything in Plaid Cymru - and neither should we - healthy debate is the hallmark of a healthy democracy.
Jostling and manhandling and brow-beating never. We’ll leave those dark arts to Westminster where they belong.
We all of us learn more when our lips aren’t moving. When we listen. And we in our party have listened to each other and to the still, small voice in each of us that is our call to action.
And as a result of that reflection, that deep conversation, with ourselves and with each other, we are clear about the journey ahead, about the path we will take, about the milestones along the way and yes, the destination we all desire: a nation of equals, of all, by all, for all. Cymru.
Cymru is what drives us – its people, their problems, their priorities, their potential.
You've told us putting Cymru, the nation and its people first is what's most important to you.
When we say the interests of Cymru should come before the interests of Plaid - people before party - we mean it.
Last year, we could have said let's stick to politics as usual. Let's carp from the side-lines, shout into the abyss, and echo the Commons' yah-boo.
But is that what Cymru would have wanted?
No. Our parliament isn't a pale imitation of Westminster, and our politics shouldn't be either.
Because Wales only truly wins when Plaid Cymru is a player on the pitch.
Those Free School Meals - delivered by Plaid Cymru.
Free Childcare for two-year-olds - delivered by Plaid Cymru.
Radical reform to the housing market - delivered by Plaid Cymru.
And greater protections for the Welsh family farm – negotiated by Plaid Cymru.
No child will go hungry in primary school. More money in the pockets of parents. And Welsh communities protected - all for the people of Cymru by the party of Wales.
When Keir Starmer referenced the SNP at the Labour Conference, he said that "we can't work with them, we won't work with them".
I say to Labour that no one has a monopoly on good ideas – and co-operation can’t begin and end just with the Co-operative Party.
From the Cwmbach co-op of 1859 to the Tredegar Medical Aid Society that blazed the trail for the NHS co-operation is at the beating heart of the Welsh radical tradition.
We realise here in Wales that to move forward, we have to do it together. Altogether, or not at all.
We are a party of Welsh Co-operators. Even now in Opposition, we are a party of Co-opposition. Co-operating and delivering where possible, opposing, scrutinising, probing, and prompting where necessary. For the sake of Wales. People and principles before party. Putting Cymru first.
Let us be proud of being the incubator and instigator of Cymru’s ideas – the forward thinkers and the radical pioneers not the johnny come latelies and the pallid procrastinators. Our people’s flag is red and green not deepest beige. Yes, time and time again by staying true to our values we have to remind Labour of their own. We change the future, and they change their minds. And of course, they claim the credit. The deniers of devolution in 1979 became its architects in 1997. But it’s us that had to keep hope alive in between. Yes, they play fast and loose with their politics and their conscience. The one road not even Lee Waters dares cancel is the road to Damascus.
Let that be them.
If moving Wales forward means we have to drag Labour behind us, then so be it. If writing the next chapter in our history means filling in the blanks in someone else’s thinking then that is what we will do. Because when we say Cymru For All we mean too that we will find common ground wherever we can to create a better future for our people.
And whatever Sir Keir says about the evils of nationalism, flag by his side, anthem on his lips, we say this to Labour in Wales. If you are sincere, if you are genuine about making Wales the Tory Free-Zone that we all want to see. If you truly dislike the Tories more than you dislike us. Then don’t send your leader and minibuses of canvassers to Ceredigion and Caernarfon like last time when they can be more usefully employed elsewhere. You rebuild your broken red wall. From Llandudno to Llansteffan, from Aberffraw to Aberaeron we’ll paint our coastline green - re-electing Liz and Ben, and electing Rhun ap Iorwerth, like Ieuan Wyn before him, from Senedd to Senedd, the very definition of the Member for Mȏn.
Cymru For All if it is to mean something must mean equality, fairness, and respect for all - no room for prejudice or hate, no room for racism or misogyny, no room for excuses when this behaviour occurs.
Our party is not perfect – no part of our society can pretend that it is. And I want to acknowledge that this was a difficult summer for Plaid Cymru. For me personally. And for many of you.
Though our party aspires to change society, we are also a product of it: reflecting, and unless we are vigilant, reproducing its inequalities, its systemic injustices, its unconscious biases, and deep-seated prejudice. If political parties do not recognise that we are sometimes part of the problem, then we will never be part of the solution either.
We can only hold those in power to account if we do hold ourselves accountable too.
That’s why we have committed to working with one of Wales’ leading independent organisations in the field of equality to help us become the party for all we truly aspire to become.
Yn ddiweddar rwyf wedi fy ysbrydoli gan genhadaeth gynhwysol Cymdeithas Pêl-droed Cymru – nid yn unig y modd y mae’n rhoi croeso i bawb ond y ffaith fod lle a llwyfan i bawb hefyd.
Nid gem i’r dynion yn unig yw hi o’r diwedd. Hen bryd troi cefn ar yr hen drefn, ac hen bryd i ferched ifanc heddiw gael arwresau sy’n swnio fel nhw ac yn edrych fel nhw.
Gadewch i ni felly fel plaid ddilyn ôl troed y Gymdeithas ac ymdrechu’n fwy nag erioed i fod yn amrywiol, yn gynhwysol, ac yn berthnasol i bawb o bobl Cymru.
Safwn gyda hi, yn gadarn gyda’r Wal Goch.
I look at my children and think of the world they are going to grow up in – and it breaks my heart to think of them having to face any form of hatred or prejudice.
The sad fact is that if society doesn’t change – they will. And your children and grandchildren will too.
So how are we going to build a Wales that will safeguard them against this?
It starts here, today, with us, all of us Together, we can lead by example and become that beacon of hope for a future that is equal and inclusive of all.
I’ve said it once and it’s worth underlining by saying again. I often look to Football Association Wales as an inspiration for change. Here is an organisation that has spent the best part of 10 years developing a positive culture around the game, innovatively building an experience for people that is inclusive, safe and engaging.
Gone is the tradition that this is a sport for men only. It has now become a movement which sees thousands of young girls and women enjoying and playing the game as the sport celebrates and includes PAWB - EVERYONE. For Her and For All.
I’ve been to many of the Welsh women’s games and when Jess Fishlock charges across the pitch with her feet on fire and scores a goal – she not only scores for her country but scores for every woman who’s ever felt on the side-line of sport.
The FAW has made sure that women belong – that we all belong to Cymru, giving an identity and ownership of the game in Wales we’ve never felt before. They’ve also made them feel safe in the stands and on the pitch and the result benefits us all.
They’ve tapped into Yma o Hyd (and stolen our main man in the process!) and successfully delivered the message that we are all equal, in this together – Y Wal Goch, gyda’n gilydd.
And as a gay man, when I go to the stadium, be it for the women’s or men’s game, seeing the lgbt+ banner light up across the pitch as it declares PAWB Cymru - makes me feel safe and like I belong. Like my little LGBT family belongs.
And that is the most amazing feeling.
But the biggest reason I think this has worked for the Football Association is because they have seen the impact and are reaping the benefits of creating a space full of joy and celebration, as opposed to a space with undertones of anger and hate.
Because there is enough anger and hate in the world already. We are building a nation whose future is built on foundations of equality, respect, and love.
And if football can do it, then politics can too.
I was proud to see two motions passed earlier today. The first on gender quotas and the other to ban the horrific so-called practice of ‘conversion therapy’ – because no one should be told or made to believe that their identity can be ‘cured’.
I say again there is no place in society, our party, or our country for this kind of hate. We are LGBT+ inclusive – and the T is NOT a debate.
If we are to become a Cymru For All, Cymru i Bawb, then we must become a Party for All, Plaid i Bawb – where everyone feels safe and included, and that they have a voice. In a nation of 3.1 million there is no room for exclusion. We need everyone. All of their talents, all of their experiences, all of their stories, all of their dreams. We need a Cymru For All.
And Conference, be in no doubt, Liz Truss, whose tenure was as short sighted as it was short lived and whoever succeeds her are the opposite of that vision.
I remember the cheers on the streets of Wales when the news broke that Thatcher had resigned. She’d shut my father’s mine, snatched away my milk as a child and my maintenance grant as a student. I was not a fan, and there was a genuine sense of joy and relief that she had finally gone. A cloud had lifted. It was a good day.
Contrast that to how we felt yesterday. We’re glad to see the back of Truss. But we know that what’s coming will hardly be much better, and could still be even worse.
The thought of Boris Johnson – the comeback clown – flying home from his Caribbean holiday to save us is a symbol of the depths to which British politics has now plumbed.
The lack of decency, the contempt for democracy, the fratricidal scheming, the Conservative Party’s sacrifice of everything and everyone on the altar of their own greed and personal ambition has culminated in the shortest premiership in the history of UK Prime Ministers. The first and hopefully last act of the next Tory Prime Minister has to be to call a General Election. They have no mandate, no credibility and no legitimacy left. Better still, let’s make this next Tory PM the last Tory ever to rule over Wales against Wales wishes. That’s the choice at the next election in Wales, getting rid of them for a few years with a UK Labour government, or getting rid of them forever with independence by voting for Plaid Cymru.
We have always seen the Tory Party for what they are, a grotesque alliance of the talentless and the craven, the chancer and the bully. But now the scales of fallen from other’s eyes.
The Tories are proud to be the High-Priests of Capitalism, but not even the markets believe in them now.
The pound they once campaigned to keep, they’ve trashed.
And though they’ve changed their Chancellor, their Home Secretary, and soon their Prime Minister – they haven’t changed their spots.
The banker bonus cap will still be scrapped, while the benefits safety net is cut: trickle-up economics redistributing from the poor to the rich.
Can any socialist honestly say that an independent Wales could not do better than this?
Gyfeillion, mae’n deg dweud nad oes llawer o Gymraeg rhwng carfannau’r blaid Geidwadol ond fydde chi ddim yn disgwyl i’r blaid sy’n rhoi eraill trwy uffern i siarad iaith y nefoedd.
Mae hyn oll yn gêm iddyn nhw wrth iddynt newid eu Prif Weinidogion ac aelodau’r cabinet yn amlach na dwi’n newid fy sanne.
Mae sarhad y Llywodraeth Geidwadol tuag at ddemocratiaeth a’u parodrwydd i aberthu pawb a phopeth yn enw uchelgais yn golygu fod eu plaid wedi dirywio i gynghrair droëdig o’r di dalent a’r di asgwrn cefn, y barus a’r bwli.
Gall etholiad cyffredinol ddatrys un broblem a chael gwared ar y giwed geidwadol ond fydd e ddim yn datrys problemau Cymru. Ond pan ddaw’r etholiad hwnnw dim ond trwy ethol aelodau Plaid Cymru y bydd llais Cymru’n chael ei glywed o ddifri ar goridorau San Steffan. Pob un yn mynd yno’n rhannu’r un dyheuad – rhoi Cymru, ein gwlad a’n pobl yn gyntaf bob tro.
So what now?
What now for Wales as we suffer another ‘cost of Westminster’ crisis?
What now as the clock ticks on Labour’s inaction in the face of the Tories’ destructive agenda?
Mortgages - up.
Energy bills - up.
Food prices - up.
All in the name of trickle down.
Be in no doubt, the moral depravity, the gravity of inhumanity of this terrible Tory party knows no bounds.
The right-wing ideology bursting through its blue veins – its cold-blooded contempt for hard working people matched by its callous disregard for those in peril and harm’s way.
We know what people think about the Tory party.
Untrustworthy, for themselves, out of touch and for the few. Not my words, but the theme tune to Lord Ashcroft’s focus groups if reports are to be believed.
I stand with Nicola – I also detest what the Tories represent. The mask has slipped, the nasty party is alive and kicking the working class every day.
It’s time to say ‘Enough is Enough’.
Enough is enough because the fall out of decisions taken by Number 10 – the office of budget irresponsibility – goes beyond the money markets.
Make no mistake, whoever wins in seven days time, it’s the people who still stand to lose.
The cuts are coming – ripping through not trickling down into our public services.
Less money for our treasured NHS and the doctors, nurses and army of carers who went above and beyond during Covid.
Less money for schools and teachers who work day in day out to give our children the best start in life.
Fewer public spaces for the elderly to keep warm as libraries are forced to close.
Friends, it doesn’t have to be this way.
There is another way - the Welsh way – truly greener, fairer, more equal, and more flourishing.
Slash energy bills back to under thirteen hundred pounds by bringing in a windfall tax for the profit guzzling energy companies and extending it beyond April next year.
Raising the National Living Wage, just as many other countries have done.
An immediate increase in Universal Credit of £25 a week and a commitment to raise benefits in line with inflation.
Fuel duty relief in rural areas where public transport is limited and a 1,000 litres of heating oil for those in many parts of Wales that are off-grid.
Here are just some of the measures that could and should be introduced by the UK Government if only they had a modicum of humanity.
These are Plaid Cymru’s proposals - fair proposals, just proposals, rooted in the simple belief that in one of the wealthiest nations on earth, no individual or family should be forced to choose between a warm meal and a warm home thanks to cruel Tory rule.
Shame on them. Shame on them all.
But friends, if the Welsh Way is to mean anything it must involve made in Wales solutions too.
Now is the time for Wales to lead, not just point the finger.
Too frequently and sometimes inexcusably – Welsh ministers here have sought the solace of relative political safety by criticising others rather than affecting change themselves.
“Move on” they said when bereaved families demanded a Wales Covid inquiry.
Be careful what you wish for they said when we called for peace of mind to those exposed to the volatility of the housing market this winter.
Where has Labour’s radicalism gone? We know we won’t find it with Keir Starmer but we hoped to find it closer to home.
Where is their signature of solidarity in these most urgent of times?
Conference, make no mistake, this is an emergency - the blue lights are flashing, and we can be the first responders. The first with ideas, the first with solutions, the first to demand action.
Our ‘People’s Plan’ is both socially just and immediately deliverable.
It makes public transport more affordable, the pay packet go further, housing provision fairer, and tax rates more progressive.
And here’s how.
First, by freezing rents. With Wales’s average rental values up by 15% in just 12 months, the Welsh Government must use the powers at their disposal right now to make sure that these bills don’t rise a penny more in the private rental sector.
And they must act on evictions too. One in 10 people in Wales are worried about the prospect of losing their home in the next three months – a sobering statistic as we enter the coldest months of the year.
Indeed, cash strapped tenants need help now, and no one should face being evicted because of this crisis. Not my words but the words of the Labour Leader in the Scottish Parliament, Anas Sarwar.
So let’s hope the Welsh Government listen to their Labour colleagues in Scotland and introduce an immediate moratorium on evictions to make sure that no person or family in Wales will be turfed out of their home as winter bites.
Secondly, despite the soaring costs of fuel, we must keep Wales moving. So I’m calling on the Welsh Government today to freeze rail fares this year, halve the cost of more off-peak tickets and cap bus fares at £2 to ensure that public transport remains affordable in these challenging times.
Next, to alleviate child hunger we must look after secondary as well as primary pupils. Expanding the universal school meals policy to all secondary pupils, starting with those whose families receive Universal Credit will help raise attainment and lower the weekly family food bill.
Let’s also support our young people by raising the Education Maintenance Allowance which has remained at £30 for the last eighteen years. Let’s give the next generation a break after the crippling uncertainty they have endured throughout the pandemic.
Finally, and perhaps most pertinently – the Welsh Government’s public sector pay awards are derisory. Not my words but that of the Labour-affiliated union Unison.
In the pandemic we stood at our doorsteps to clap those on the front-line. Now it’s they that are about to stand on the picket-line.
Nurses using foodbanks. Nurses crying after their shifts because of the pressure they are under and the sense that they’re under-valued.
Those who care for the vulnerable and those who educate our children deserve so much better than this.
That’s why we’re calling on the Welsh Government to introduce fair pay right away to those on the front line in the public sector through a rise at least in line with inflation.
After they have been through, it is literally the least we should do.
Conference, it’s time to put an end to the days of waiting for Westminster. With every passing hour a light goes off and a meal is skipped, a payment is missed, and a house goes cold.
At its core, our “People’s Plan’ will do what’s right by our communities - fighting their battles, believing in their causes, and championing change through our deep-rooted values of ‘chwarae teg’.
Taken together, the measures we are calling on the UK and Welsh governments to adopt would defend our people against the crippling onslaught that is the Cost-of-Living crisis.
A fully costed, fully achievable, fully progressive plan rooted in doing as much as we can for those who have the least. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
A plan that for Wales’s part could start to be implemented right away if only the Welsh Government woke up to the urgency of this crisis and brought forward an Emergency Budget at the earliest possible opportunity.
Socialist Spain is introducing a solidarity tax. Is socialism in Wales something we like to talk about but never practice? Are the income tax powers that we fought and campaigned for not there to be used progressively to shield the vulnerable and protect our public services?
Wasn’t the devolution dividend designed for dark days like these so we can do things differently and do them better, a parliament for Wales doing its work on behalf of the people?
So today, I make this offer to the Labour Welsh Government.
Work with us and we will work with you – phase two of our Co-operation agreement can be the ‘People’s Plan’ – if we are all for Cymru and want a Cymru for all let us find common ground for the common good – people before politics, nation before party.
The Tories won’t but we can. Though not enough, we have the tools to make a difference – there is a way – all we need is the will.
But we must also be honest with our people too. Whether it’s this autumn of Tory chaos or Labour’s winter of discontent - the harshest of winds blow from Westminster leaving havoc in their wake.
Whatever the season - we not they should decide the political weather.
When I became leader I said I would put independence at the front and centre for our party. At the same time I made it clear that creating an independent Wales was not the role of just one party, but the work of an entire nation, all of its people and all of its perspectives.
That was part of the impulse in creating a Cooperation Agreement with the Labour Party. After all, according to the polls at least 40 per cent of Welsh Labour voters support independence. So they must have been very disappointed to hear the First Minister say – in the Republic of Ireland of all places – that he never wanted independence and that the UK was the best insurance policy for the people of Wales. This isn’t trickle down economics, of course, but trickle across – it’s the gift that never starts giving. The United Kingdom is the insurance policy that never pays and has cost us a premium in poverty and left us a liability in looming coal tips and blackened lungs. Mark Drakeford showed his anger at Tory hypocrisy this week, and it’s anger that’s justifiable. But why get angry when, through independence, you can get even. Because independence means we will never have to put with this crap ever again. Don’t worry I am not going to go full-on Miriam Margolyes or Krishnan Guru-Murthy though there are days when you just really want to.
The Cooperation Agreement, agreement as it is with a still avowedly Unionist party, is not going to lead to independence on its own.
But it will give us a Senedd that looks like the parliament of a soon-to-be-independent nation. A more effective, more representative Senedd, equal in gender, elected by 100% PR like most other European nations, liberated from the strictures of dire, dying and dysfunctional Westminster. It will demonstrate what the engine room of a modern democracy can look like.
We also have the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales. Past commissions have been led by diplomats, politicians and parliamentary clerks. This time we have opted for the worlds of faith and football. We are fortunate to have in the co-chairs Professor Laura MacAllister and former Archbishop Rowan Williams two thinkers whose minds are as sharp as they are subtle.
I don’t think it possible to understate the significance of this Commission. It is the first official body in the long history of our country that has as part of its remit an examination of the case for Welsh independence, with the full support of the civil service machine.
And friends, we have taken full advantage of the opportunity to present that case. Two weeks ago we presented our evidence to the Commission. Entitled The Road to Independence, it will be published by Y Lolfa in a few weeks’ time.
It is the product of six months of detailed work by some of the best minds in our party and is a major step forward in our thinking on independence. And it’s a huge credit to our NEC’s Director of Policy John Osmond who has done heroic work for the party and for Wales for which we will mint a medal in Llantrisant when, on independence, they hand over to us the keys.
We also commissioned research papers from a number of outside experts, including Professor John Doyle, of Dublin City University, who has provided us with an insightful new approach to the fiscal starting point of an independent Wales.
This debunks the argument that we are too small and too poor to thrive as an independent nation.
We find that in 2019, rather than the ONS-derived £13.5bn deficit, those elements likely to transfer to an independent Wales would represent a deficit of approximately £2.6bn equal to just over 3% of our GDP. That is certainly well within the range of sovereign independent state deficits that an advanced economy such as Wales would be able to fund through borrowing.
The fiscal deficit that an independent Wales would face would be normal for comparable countries and in no way presents the major obstacle or impediment which others have sought to present.
This is a game-changer in the debate surrounding the viability of an independent Wales. Time and again, we have heard wild estimates about the likely fiscal gap that would exist if we were to become independent that bear no relation to reality.
Our evidence to the Constitution Commission shows once and for all that ‘fantasy economics’ are peddled by those who are against not for independence.
Wales urgently needs independence because we are trapped within a UK economy that is overwhelmingly shaped in the interests of the South East of England and the City of London. Since Brexit Wales has lost out on European convergence funding, while the UK Government’s so-called ‘levelling up’ agenda has been shown to be no more than hollow rhetoric.
The UK economic model is broken. It is a structure that does not deliver prosperity to Wales and offers no prospect of doing so.
The Brexit vote and the interminable arguments that have dogged the years since have demonstrated that the UK is stuck in an unresolved yearning for its imperial past with ancient, outdated structures. It is backward-looking and inward-looking, and slowly its economy and its institutions are collapsing.
By contrast an independent Wales would be forward thinking and outward looking, shaped by a progressive vision, dynamic and invigorating. And it would do a better job of providing to our citizens the basics of a decent life.
Our job as a party is to persuade of people of that vision, in collaboration with as many others that we can persuade to share it with us. That is why we embrace a co-operative approach to politics that is such a refreshing contrast to Westminster’s sterile sectarianism.
And that is why I can announce today that we are entering into a collaboration with the Wales Green Party to create a new initiative to grow the case for independence. The Future Cymru Forum will consult, research and develop a ground-breaking body of work to build a "bridge of ideas to the future". We will embark together with others on a detailed shared programme of research to set out the economic, social and environmental policies that the Government of a newly independent Wales will need to put in hand to create a prosperous and sustainable country.
The Forum will bring together – under the shared direction of the Wales Green Party and ourselves – leading economists and other experts to examine the economic and ecological model and pathways towards an independent Wales, for a better future for both people and planet, together, a Wellbeing Wales that will be a million miles away from the broken Britain of today.
Friends, our Future Cymru project is a declaration, that: We are serious about independence for our country. That we are ready to put in the hard, painstaking work necessary to produce the policies, the evidence and the arguments that will convince a majority that it can – and must – work. That we are genuine in reaching out to others, across the party divide, to join hands to find a shared route to independence that will produce real benefits for all of our people.
Fifteen years ago in this very place, I said that the test of the new Wales is not what’s in it for me, or what’s in it for us, but what’s in it for the people and the land that we love.
We will put Wales first, and together, this nation will move forward.
Our party already does so much, and our influence goes far and wide.
The words of our manifesto are already an imprint on people’s daily lives.
From Caergybi to Cross Hands and all places on the road in between – Plaid Cymru led councils, and councillors, are making a difference on the front line.
Liz, Ben and Hywel are Wales’s voice in Westminster – uncompromising and unrivalled in doing so.
And in the Senedd, our formidable team of Members is working day in day out to give their communities a voice on the issues which matter to them.
But – there’s always a but!
I want us all to commit to something extra. One more conversation that encourages a friend to join our movement. One more canvass session to spread the word about our work. One more march on the road to a free and fairer nation.
We are at our best when we are active, at our most effective when we pull together.
Every passing day that keeps us tied to Westminster’s broken system and the breaking Union deepens the moral and economic crisis.
There is another way – the Welsh way – and friends, together, we are on our way. We will get there.
And that knowledge will sustain us through the troubled times ahead.
For what greater prospect is there than building a country of our own – that will be for ever in every sense for everyone our Cymru For All.