Carmen is Plaid Cymru's newest addition to the House of Lords.

Gynhadledd –

Yesterday I joined the red benches in the Lords, as its very youngest member.

And to the surprise of many I left my doc martens at home… for now(!)

Diolch am y negeseuon caredig iawn rydw i wedi eu derbyn ers i mi gael fy enwebu.

Today I am proud to address you in Caernarfon, just a stones throw away over the Menai Straits to where I grew up – in Llanfaes.

I am mindful of the particular responsibility I hold, not just as the youngest current member of the Lords, but also the youngest person ever to have been appointed as a Life Peer.

Upon heading to Westminster, I feel on my shoulders the weight of expectation that I will speak for my generation.

I have already felt some of that in the response to my nomination, both among the public and in the media:

People asking, on the one hand, what issues affecting young people I hope to campaign on, and people suggesting, on the other, that at my age I couldn’t possibly have enough life experience to do the job well.

I want to take those two matters in turn.

Starting with the question of my age.

Gynhadledd, you may have heard me say before that I first became political when a certain Leanne Wood knocked on my door just over a decade ago.

Anyone who has campaigned with Leanne knows she is a force to be reckoned with on the doorstep.

She helped me to think differently about the world and my place in it.

And afterwards as I reflected on that first conversation, I became increasingly angry at how our society treats those who are less well off, less fortunate, less privileged.

I was a young carer to my late father growing up, and it was tough. I experienced the kind of struggle that so many of our fellow citizens still face every day – the same barriers, the same being passed around the houses.

As someone who grew up in a rural area, I experienced the lack of connectedness, lack of infrastructure, that so many of our communities still face.

Growing up on a council estate, I experienced the lack of investment, lack of opportunity, and lack of hope that continues to plague too many of our villages, towns, and cities for far too long.

It is in these experiences that my values and my principles were forged.

These experiences are what I bring to the task ahead of me.

If you are yet to be convinced that a young woman from Llanfaes has what it takes to send Westminster a message, I ask you only to reflect on the awful, enraging reality that those experiences of mine are not unique.

Those experiences are still happening. Not just in Llanfaes, but in every part of Wales, there are young people who feel that their future is being taken away from them by the broken political and economic systems of the UK.

They are right, and they deserve a voice.

I now turn to the wider matters that I hope to campaign on.

My generation grew up through the global recession at the end of the first decade of this century. We came of age in the age of austerity. We were teenagers while youth services were decimated, and waiting lists for mental health support grew ever longer. And then we began our working lives during Covid.

We became adults at a time of increasing, aggressive polarisation: the age of Trump, Brexit, and Johnson. Our worldview was shaken and our hopes were dashed.

We were children alongside the Internet and we grew up with social media, for all its good, and its bad.

We grew up with the ever-growing threat of catastrophic climate change, and the unwillingness or inability of political leaders around the world to do much or anything about it, as it becomes a reality.

All around us we see wealth inequality. Soaring debts and unaffordable housing; low wages; and unstable work.

And now, like all of us, we look around and see a world which we do not recognise. One where our fellow human beings are treated as expendable. One where even the most basic call for a ceasefire was met with disrespect in Westminster. Met with a sense of impossibility.

This isn’t how we want our world to be.

We in this party, who hold the values of equity and equality, of sustainability and of community, of solidarity and of justice – we know that a different future is possible.

And we must all put our shoulders to the wheel to achieve it.

Conference, I know that some of our fellow members – perhaps even some who are here today – feel strongly that Plaid Cymru should not accept any seats in the House of Lords.

I know that those who hold that view hold it sincerely, and I understand their antipathy towards the unelected second chamber. I feel that antipathy too: I don’t want Wales to have to send people there.

I doubt that there is anyone here today, or indeed any member of our party, who likes the House of Lords. An unelected and overinflated chamber, dominated by a certain type of people – normally men, normally over the age of 70, and yes, normally from a middle to upper class upbringing with very healthy bank accounts.

A chamber where too often, it’s not what you bring to the role that matters, but your privilege: the size of our cheque book and how willing you are to make a donation to one of the big British parties.

But, conference, while the Lords has a say in the laws that affect Wales, and while it has a say in holding UK governments of whatever political persuasion to account for their failings, it is imperative that Plaid Cymru is there.

In fact, I would go further and say it is our duty to be there, not to become part of the establishment, not to become cosy and comfortable, but to challenge, to hold to account, and ultimately to work ourselves out of a job.


To not be there would, to my mind, be a missed opportunity to do the very thing which we as a party exist to do:

To speak up for Wales. To expose the broken political and economic systems of the UK. And to make the case for a better, more sustainable, more equitable, and more prosperous future for our nation as an independent country.

And that is what I plan to do alongside our broad family of Plaid Cymru representatives and members – our leader Rhun, our MPs Ben and Hywel ably led by Liz, with others hopefully joining them soon in Llinos on Ynys Môn, Ann in Caerfyrddin, and others; our Members of the Senedd; our councillors; and our grassroots in every corner of our country.

Gynhadledd, ga i dalu teyrnged i Dafydd Wigley?

I pay tribute to Dafydd not only for his many years of service in the House of Lords, but more importantly for his many years of public and political service to Wales.

For decades, Dafydd has been a voice of reason, of justice, and of progress, both within Plaid Cymru and outside.

And in the Lords, he has earned the admiration of many colleagues, and the respect of all.

Diolch, Dafydd, am eich gwasanaeth, ac ar ran pob un ohonom, rwy’n dymuno pob hwyl i chi yn eich ymddeoliad haeddiannol iawn ar ol y etholiad cyffredinol sy’n dod.

Ond rwy’n gwybod y byddwch chi yn parhau i fod yn weithgar, gan mai dyna yw eich natur chi, ac rwy’n edrych ymlaen at alw ar eich profiad.

When Dafydd first entered the House of Lords, he spoke about his and Dafydd Elis Thomas’ first election as MPs in 1974. He said, speaking of the two of them:

“It was once suggested that the two of us entered the place as revolutionaries and departed as mere reformers. But if the objectives which we had then, and to which I still aspire, of a new relationship between the nations of these islands can be achieved by reforming the structures of government, that is all to the good. Revolutions can be messy and painful. If the process of devolution allows Wales […] to take appropriate decisions on an all-Wales level, and to have its voice heard when other decisions are taken on a wider basis, that is also to the good.”

At the beginning of my own time in the Lords, I associate myself with what Dafydd said then. From the very start, it is my intention “to make our views known whenever and wherever the interests of Wales are at stake” – as Dafydd himself said.

In a House of Lords where not many members will look like me, I know that I will have to shout loudly. I’m ready for that.

I’m ready to shout loudly for Wales. I’ll shut down ignorant views, like those made by a Tory Lord, just last week, that “linguistic fascism” exists in Wales. I’ll bring a dose of reality into that chamber.

Anyone who has experienced barriers or inequality knows that you have to shake things up to get things done, and that’s what I plan to do.

At its root, the lack of diversity in representation is fuelled by the failed political and economic systems of the UK, which were designed to monopolise wealth and power in the hands of the few. I will work in the spirit of Project Pawb – offering shadowing opportunities and supporting activists to build their confidence to stand as candidates and become empowered leaders.

In a bigger Senedd in 2026 we need more diverse voices standing for election. I call on women activists in the room today, who also want to shake things up, to join me tomorrow morning at the Merched Plaid fringe – to support more women candidates to put their names forward across all parts of Wales.

Up and down our nation – whether in Caernarfon or Caerfyrddin, whether in Newtown or Newport, whether in Abertawe or Aberteifi, right across our country – there are people who are crying out for change.

There are people struggling not only to make ends meet, but to have even the faintest glimmer of hope that something different is possible.

That better times are possible.

Our job is to offer that hope. To offer the possibility that a different path can be achieved, and we can build it together.

I am looking forward to playing my part alongside each and every one of you.

Next I want to turn to the future.

Firstly, the immediate future. There is a general election on the horizon. I am looking forward to being rid of the Tories who have not only driven the economy into the ground, but have so often and so shamelessly made a mockery of what it is to govern.

But, Conference, we in Plaid Cymru know that that won’t change a thing as far as Wales is concerned; no matter who’s in Downing Street, Wales will always be an afterthought.

And that is why we must all be prepared to roll up our sleeves, to deliver those leaflets, to have those conversations, and to put in all the effort and energy we can gather to sending the strongest possible team of Plaid Cymru MPs back to Westminster.

I am looking forward to doing my part and I look forward too to seeing you all on the campaign trail across Wales.

And finally, that brings me to our country’s future.

Gynhadledd, we know that what we have now isn’t the best it gets. We know that Cymru is overflowing with potential, with ideas, with energy.

Our future can and must be determined by us as the citizens of Wales: one where we are free to make our own choices, free to be part of the international community in our own right, free to put our principles and our values into action.

Gynhadledd, I give you my word that every ounce of my energy will be spent making that future a reality.

That future is coming, and it’s coming soon. But we must be impatient, because people up and down Wales need us to be impatient. Need us to be relentless in our pursuit of a fairer, better, and independent future.

That responsibility falls on all of us, in whatever role or position we occupy.

Gynhadledd, I look forward to doing my part, and to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with all of you as we do ours, together.

Diolch yn fawr iawn.