Plaid Cymru speech to SNP conference
Everything Rhun ap Iorwerth said in his fraternal address to the SNP annual conference, Monday 16 October 2023
Friends, Caraidean, gyfeillion.
A very good morning to you! It's a real honour to be here with you in Scotland today, among friends old and new.
We’d coordinated our conferences well this year: The SNP in Aberdeen; Plaid Cymru in Aberystwyth last week. This act of solidarity between our two Abers reflecting the strong bond between our nations!
And let me say thanks to your Aberdeenshire man, your spokesperson on Wales, Richard Thomson for addressing our conference in Aberystwyth. Richard – I hope you felt a warm welcome there. The welcome I’ve had here certainly confirms to me the deep affection between our parties.
It’s my first visit to Aberdeen, somewhere I’ve always known as a proud footballing city from my football-sticker collecting days as a child, and let me congratulate you as a proud footballing nation on qualifying last night for next year’s European Championships in Germany!
We’re not quite there yet. I watched Wales edge closer to qualifying night, but I tell you what, I have to be very careful here: Scotland has inflicted plenty of pain on Wales in football clashes over the years. So perhaps the least said the better!
It’s also my very first visit to Scotland since becoming leader of Plaid Cymru – but already today your welcome’s made me feel like an honorary Scot, for the day at least! So thank you.
Before I delve further into our shared vision, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Humza Yousaf for his kindness and hospitality today.
Our thoughts in Plaid Cymru are with Humza's family in Gaza, and with all the innocent civilians in both Israel and Palestine who are enduring the pain of this ongoing tragedy.
It takes a person of great strength to speak with such clarity and compassion during such trying times.
Scotland, you’re fortunate to have Humza as a leader who stands firmly for justice.
We are both relatively new leaders.
So let me to introduce myself: the leader of Plaid Cymru since June this year. I marked a decade since being elected to our Parliament, the Senedd, this summer.
But before that I spent nearly twenty years as a journalist and broadcaster. I only had the pleasure of attending an SNP conference once as a political correspondent, many years ago, in Perth …and I can assure you that being here giving this address on behalf of Plaid Cymru is a lot less stressful than chasing politicians around with a news camera! But I’ll still chase some of you for some selfies later!
I’ve lived and worked across Wales. Born in the southern valleys, then moved further north to Gwynedd, and then further north still to the island of Ynys Mon. I later studied in Cardiff where my wife Llinos and I started our family and we then brought up our three children on the island that I’m now so proud to represent.
That experience guides much of my politics. I am clear: Plaid Cymru is the party of ALL of Wales. North, south, east, west, urban, rural, those who are Welsh speaking and those who are not.
One Wales. Like One Scotland. Two European nations, working together as one team.
Both our parties have been through challenging times of late. But the need to build a better future for the people of our nations means that being downbeat isn’t an option!
Those political challenges may seem at times like we’re performing some political high-wire act - daunting and precarious. But I and we in Plaid Cymru know that it’s challenges like this that strengthen our focus and resolve.
In 1979, Wales voted no to devolution, and many believed we’d lost for good.
But, the spark of hope was never extinguished.
And in 1997, a week after Scotland had said yes, so did Wales. We wouldn’t be muted again. We could finally raise our voice as a nation… and in the years since, whether in opposition or in our time in in government, Plaid Cymru has been consistent in the vow we make to the people of Wales – we will always stand up for them. We have no London party bosses to keep us in check. Our focus will ALWAYS be on our communities, on our nation’s interests.
That’s what makes us different.
Plaid Cymru exists to give Wales a voice. Just as the SNP gives Scotland a voice.
What’s clear from the energy here in Aberdeen is that this is a party as determined as ever to raise that voice, to speak up. You ARE the spark that still ignites. I know our sister party the SNP will never give up on Scotland’s future, like Plaid Cymru will never give up on Wales’.
Conference. I am so proud, as Plaid Cymru’s new leader, to be renewing our shared political partnership today.
Humza Yousaf and I have today committed to strengthening our bond.
The SNP and Plaid Cymru share a long history, bound by a common cause: to support our communities today, whilst looking to tomorrow and our opportunity to forge fairer and more prosperous nations through independence.
From the days of Gwynfor Evans and Winnie Ewing, our parties have stood side by side, and have crafted a unique alliance in these islands, one that we will endeavour to strengthen further.
Our shared mission is to improve the lives of the people of our respective nations, in stark opposition to the inequality at the heart of the United Kingdom.
And remember we’re not driven by wanting to break a family apart but rather to give each member of the family the tools to succeed.
Together, we want to build a future where our communities thrive and where our children can reach their potential. This is not just a partnership; it's a bond of solidarity.
Today, we’re renewing that bond, guided by our shared principles of fairness, equality, and crucially… self-determination.
As we approach the next UK General Election – let’s get the message out that WE are the alternatives to the cosy Westminster consensus.
Our communities are close to buckling after 13 years of Conservative austerity.
People are struggling to make ends meet, living standards across the UK are plummeting.
But faced with this dire reality, what does Keir Starmer propose?
A veneer of competence but with a glaring absence of the empathy and compassion our communities need.
He pledges to maintain the cruel two-child benefits limit … just more competently.
He promises to persist with inhumane anti-asylum policies … but to do so efficiently.
He's content to deny opportunities to our children by following in the Tories' Brexit footsteps.
And yes – we’re the only parties in our nations that really call out the Tories’ Brexit for what it is: an utter failure that’s costing us dearly. And the refusal of the Westminster parties to engage with that Brexit reality makes one thing clearer than ever: our European futures have to be in our OWN hands…
Both Westminster parties show a frightening lack of ambition.
We deserve better, and that’s where the SNP and Plaid Cymru come in – we can and will make a stand for a brighter AND a more compassionate future.
After the blues of 13 years of Conservative rule, and as Labour’s red fades into a dull grey, the SNP yellow and Plaid Cymru green are needed more than ever.
Our message is clear: Together, we stand for hope, we stand for fairness and ambition – in stark contrast to the Westminster politics of indifference.
There wasn’t a single mention of Wales in Keir Starmer’s speech last week. Not one.
Wales has voted Labour for a century.
And that’s the thanks we get.
We in Plaid Cymru look up to what you have achieved in Scotland. You have shown that real change can be achieved by acting boldly in Government.
Thanks to the SNP, Scotland is becoming a pioneer in reducing child deprivation and lowering inequality for children.
The Scottish child payment has been called a “lifesaver”. 316,000 children have benefited, with 90,000 lifted out of poverty this year.
Now that’s a record to be proud of.
That’s how we show our parties’ ambition compared to Labour.
While they want to deny benefits from the poorest children just because they have siblings, by keeping the Tories’ two child benefit cap, we are delivering.
In Wales, it’s only thanks to Plaid Cymru that Labour agreed to introduce universal free school meals. They’d voted against time and time again. We made sure it was delivered.
And conference – it’s by ensuring that Plaid Cymru and the SNP return a strong group of MPs that we can stand up against the condemning of our children to more austerity of ambition.
Only we will hold the Westminster parties to account: both Tory and Labour.
So conference, friends.
We stand united here today, Scotland and Wales, SNP and Plaid Cymru.
We stand at a crucial juncture, but we do so together. We will confront the challenges that lie ahead together, with clear-eyed determination.
We represent the hope and ambition that our communities so desperately need.
We stand against the politics of indifference.
We've achieved milestones that have defied the cynics in the past, and we’ll do so again.
Let’s fight the next election with optimism for a better Scotland, a better Wales, and a better future for all our people.
Plaid Cymru will be with you all the way.
Diolch yn fawr. Thank you very much.