Plaid Cymru Leader, Leanne Wood
Political values drawn from my community
My political values are drawn from my community, of which I am extremely proud. Born and brought up in the Rhondda, where I still live, family and personal experiences have combined to nurture my love of Wales, my socialism and my republicanism.
Like many in these communities I have been keen to fully grasp my heritage. I am learning Welsh and I am proud that my seven year old daughter attends the local Welsh medium school.
I don’t come from a wealthy background: my dad spent much of the eighties out of work. But I benefitted from an education which inspired me to believe I could work with others in order to change things for benefit of my community and my country. Joining Plaid Cymru in 1991 was a practical way of beginning on this path. My education enabled me to work as a Probation Officer, a Women’s Aid support worker, and a tutor at Cardiff University before my election to the National Assembly. I also served as a local councillor in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Plaid Cymru offered a home
In Plaid Cymru I was offered a home, and I am determined to show others that Plaid Cymru can be a home for them too. I am proud of the values that underpin our politics and unite us as a party. They are the foundation on which I wish to broaden the party’s appeal. I want to lead the effort to refocus Plaid Cymru and win new ground across Wales. Working closely with our members who already work tirelessly for the cause I wish to extend our membership base by encouraging new people and past supporters of all ages to join the party and feel part of its campaigns.
Plaid Cymru has achieved so much since its inception. But we have so much more to do. In the current economic climate it is clearer than ever that we need to continue to build Wales, and create strong foundations for our independence. We are the only party that has this ambition for Wales. We know that there is a powerful economic argument for independence, but we have not always communicated that case effectively. While the British parties are now claiming a new found Welshness we must show the people of Wales the sole ambition of these so-called Welsh parties is to ‘manage’ Wales, not to transform it. Plaid Cymru is the only party that works to see Wales break out of its poverty and develop the inherent skills of our people in order to thrive and achieve its true potential. That ambition sets us distinctly apart from the British parties. I believe wholeheartedly in the ability of our people, and am determined to offer the leadership necessary to imbue a sense of national confidence and ambition that is a precursor to renewed prosperity.
Plaid Cymru has a long and honourable tradition of campaigning for an equal and diverse society that rejects discrimination based on race, sex, religion, identity, sexuality, disability or language. Our vision is of an inclusive Wales, and one in which the rights to use Welsh in all aspects of life ends discrimination against Welsh speakers.
Globalisation effecting our communities
Globalisation is having a profound effect on our communities. Local shops, pubs and small businesses – even chapels and churches – are being forced to close because of forces beyond their control. In villages, towns and cities throughout Wales, public services are being cut, and all manner of developments are threatening to destroy our environment and our very cultural identity. We must grasp this opportunity to develop alternative solutions to protect those things that are important to us and build a more positive future. When I published A Greenprint for the Valleys, I sought to demonstrate how there are sustainable ways of protecting and developing our communities. The principles contained in this are relevant throughout Wales and clearly illustrate why securing independence for Wales is so vital. I am not talking of independence for the sake of independence; I want independence so we can protect and build on those things that are valuable to us all. We campaign for “real independence” in Raymond Williams’ words – independence of thought, as well as constitutional freedom: independence to enable us to develop economic equality; to free us to argue for peace in the world instead of war; to allow us to build on our internationalist traditions by contributing to world affairs while ensuring a vibrant future for our unique language and culture.
A thriving decentralised economy
The next stepping stone towards independence means placing Wales in a better position economically. In the short term, we must insist on financial fairness; in the long term, we need to put in place a robust economic infrastructure that can shelter us from future economic storms. Models from across the world show that together we can create a thriving decentralised economy that is inherently Welsh, serving our people rather than the market: an economy in which co-operative and green ventures can thrive creating jobs for local people: an economy in which we can foster the enterprise of small businesses, community organisations and our workforce. Most importantly, an economy that will distribute wealth fairly and combat crippling inequality. Devolving power and prosperity to our local communities is essential to ensuring true social justice. We must become more confident in developing innovative policies in green technology, food and the creative industries as well as identifying niche markets in the manufacturing sector, allowing us to create products for internal consumption and export.
The time has come for our ambitious ideas. Time to discuss how we can be self-sufficient in food and energy and time to prepare for a greener, carbon-neutral Wales. A Wales that is nuclear and weapons-free. A Wales with our natural resources in our own hands.
We should be ambitious for our party, a party that can be more than an election-fighting machine alone, a party that can lead and help to build our communities and contribute to the success of our whole national movement.
I have the ability to listen, the perseverance to lead and the desire to work with everyone in the party and beyond for the benefit of Wales. I am ready to work tirelessly as part of a wider team, making the best use of everyone’s talents and making sure that everyone has the arguments and the facts that will help us build our case. We all have a large part to play over the coming years, and we have a real opportunity to build a better Wales for the sake of our people.
A party is formed and bound together not by individuals but by a unity of purpose and principle. I want to lead and inspire a chorus of thousands of voices – articulating a vision for our country. A vision of our Welsh nation speaking out confidently for our unique values, as an independent nation, playing a constructive role in a family of nations across Europe and the world.
Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru, CF99 1NA ▪ National Assembly for Wales CF99 1NA
32 Heol Gelliwastad, Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taf CF37 2BN
T: 01443 480291 ▪ 029 2089 8256
Ff: 029 2089 8257