'Your fight is our fight. Ours is yours.' - Liz Saville Roberts speech to SNP conference
Plaid Cymru fraternal address to the SNP's autumn conference in Aberdeen, 9 October 2022
Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts MP
Friends. It’s an honour to be back in Scotland with you all. With old friends and new. Deepening the unique bond between our two parties, supporting and strengthening each other in the process.
It’s my second time in Aberdeen – a thriving, modern city. To the untrained ear, it could well be a Welsh city. It would well fit in among our long list of Abers - Aberystwyth, Abertawe, Aberdyfi, Aberdeen.
A long time ago, this place was a Pictish stronghold – where the people spoke a language very closely related to Welsh.
Today, we still very much speak the same language – maybe not pedantically literally – but in culture, in humour, in ideas, in aspiration, in narration.
Plaid Cymru and the SNP, just like Wales and Scotland as nations, understand each other deeply. I’m honoured to be here strengthening that bond today.
Because your fight is our fight. Ours, yours.
I’d like to thank you – diolch – for the welcome, and for the decades of friendship between our parties.
Thank you to Nicola for your leadership and tenacity in government which is an inspiration to so many of us in Wales.
Ian and his formidable team in Westminster are a constant source of strength and support for our small group.
I’d like to particularly thank Richard Thomson, who, as your party’s spokesperson on Wales, backs up Plaid Cymru with gusto during questions to the Secretary of State of Wales every month. Who knows who that will be by next month?
And to Marion Fellows who kindly accommodated me in her home for COP26.
I wonder what became of the gin…
Thank you to Ian in particular for your eagerness to work together and for always supporting Plaid Cymru’s endeavours in Parliament.
When Ian takes down the Tories with his scathing, resonant voice, it reverberates not just in the mountains and glens of Scotland but across the hills and valleys of Wales too.
SNP and Plaid Cymru providing a political voice for our nations
The close cooperation Ian and I have in Westminster dates to those early days where Gwynfor Evans and Winnie Ewing held the fort for us all.
They were then surrounded by a sea of blue and red – but never let them drown their voices out.
Thanks to them, our nations have a loud and clear democratic voice.
Back in the 1960s, Welsh Labour MPs refused to speak to Gwynfor. Many refused to even look at him, so deep was their resentment for having taken a seat that they saw as “theirs”.
The entitlement of unionists, eh?
As we face a crucial Westminster election, let’s remind the Westminster parties that no seat belongs to them.
As they rant against self-determination, let’s remind them that the people of Wales and Scotland owe them …. nothing.
The SNP has since grown into the gargantuan political force it is today.
When once Plaid Cymru sat in a sea of blue and red – we are now dazzled by SNP yellow.
And that’s just Alison Thewliss’s outfit.
As we approach the next Westminster election, I am more determined than ever to bring a brighter dash of Plaid Cymru green to our Celtic benches.
So, budge up and make some room for the Welsh! We promise not to sing (much).
Welsh Labour - collaboration
Our dealings with Labour in Wales have become somewhat less barren since Gwynfor’s days.
They do now look at us in the corridor… most of them, anyway.
Since the inception of devolution in 1999, we’ve worked hard to create a different political culture in Wales – in stark contrast to the petty and adversarial nature of Westminster.
We know the people of Wales – they want us to put the Welsh national interest first.
That’s why we agreed a historic Cooperation Agreement with the Welsh Government – establishing governance for the common good.
A radical counterpoint to the confrontational nature of Westminster politics.
Through our agreement, we’re rolling out plans to deliver universal free school meals to all primary school children.
We’re delivering free childcare to all two-year-olds.
And we’ve committed the Government to work towards a publicly owned energy company for Wales, over the next two years, to expand community-owned renewable energy generation.
That’s the kind of radical 21st century policies Plaid Cymru is delivering, in sharp contrast to Victorian throwback Jacob Rees-Mogg’s polluting plans.
It wasn’t easy – we dragged Welsh Labour kicking and screaming. But thanks to my colleagues in the Senedd, Plaid Cymru is delivering a better Wales for our children.
It doesn’t mean we agree with Labour on everything. We don’t. We’re continuing to push Labour to show the same bold radicalism as shown by your SNP Government in Scotland.
The SNP freeze rents. Labour promise a white paper.
The SNP freeze rail fares. Labour find excuses.
The SNP use tax varying powers to protect public services. Labour make a profession of procrastination.
Yes, Plaid Cymru and Welsh Labour disagree passionately on many fundamental things. But we do so respectfully and constructively. That’s part and parcel of grown-up politics.
How depressing it was then to hear Keir Starmer using his conference speech to rant against the SNP.
UK Labour’s attachment to an archaic voting system means that in their eyes, you’re either with them, or against them. These attitudes should have stayed in the 1960s.
Keir Starmer – please get some perspective. Get real. Know your enemy.
The SNP didn’t plunge the pound causing mortgages to soar.
Plaid Cymru aren’t cutting benefits during an economic crisis to pay for reckless ideological tax cuts.
Neither of our parties took away the rights and freedoms of our young people through a destructive Brexit.
We say to Keir Starmer – focus on the real monsters. The Tories are the root cause of misery on this island, not us.
It’s time for UK Labour to grow up. Look at how we’re doing politics differently in Wales and Scotland – you might just learn a thing or two. And, don’t you know, you might just need us some day.
The Tories lump us all in one group anyway. The anti-growth coalition, they call us.
The only growth Liz Truss is achieving this autumn is that of another coalition. The anti-Tory coalition.
People aren’t falling for her spin.
Tories have trampled over Welsh and Scottish communities before – they’re doing so again.
Truss’s extremist ideology is destroying household incomes in real time. Placing yet more strain on families and communities that are already stretched to the limit.
She’s cutting benefits to shovel yet more dosh into the off-shore coffers of the super-rich.
Forcing the most vulnerable people to bear the brunt of real term welfare cuts.
Wales has never, ever, returned a majority of Tory MPs.
Scotland hasn’t done so since 1955.
And Truss is making sure it will never, ever, happen again.
The extremist libertarian ideology we’ve seen in recent weeks has no mandate in Wales or Scotland.
We will defeat it.
She likes her three-word slogans, doesn't she, Liz Truss.
Growth, growth, growth. Slogan, slogan, slogan. Words, words, words.
Let’s start our own.
Truss, Truss, Truss. Out, out, out.
Beyond the three-word slogans – what does Truss mean by her ‘growth’ mantra?
We’re told that massive borrowing for tax cuts and slashing the benefits of struggling families will promote growth. She provides no evidence.
She will repeat her latest lie ad nauseum because she hopes we’ll despair and give up asking “ BUT HOW?”
A culture of casual lying is so pervasive in Westminster politics since that toxic Brexit referendum.
If Truss were honest with the public, she would admit that the main government policy damaging economic growth is Brexit itself.
The effects of Brexit have now begun to materialise.
OECD figures show that UK GDP grew by 14.3% between Q2 2016 and Q3 2021. This is a smaller growth rate than four of the EU’s largest economies. During the same period, Germany had the highest indexed growth rate at 32.2%, followed by Spain (25.6%), France (23%) and Italy (16.3%).
Brexit Britain scraping the bottom of the barrel once again.
In October 2021, the UK government's own Office of Budget Responsibility calculated that Brexit would cost 4% of GDP per annum over the long term.
No wonder Truss and Kwarteng are suppressing the OBR’s latest report.
Brexit is hammering the competitiveness of our businesses. The output of our fishing industry expected to decline by 30 per cent – an industry so important to my home community in Wales, and especially to this part of Scotland.
Many businesses in my constituency have stopped trying to sell into the EU due to Westminster’s burdensome red tape.
I’d like to invite Liz Truss to my constituency. Try telling those struggling businesses that the Tories are the party of economic growth.
Frankly, it’s an insult.
Both Tories and Labour are now deeply committed to the hard Brexit project.
Both are committed to strengthening the horsepower of the economic crisis that’s hurtling towards us.
For the sake of our economy, we must re-join the single market and customs union.
Wales marginally voted to leave in 2016. But no- one voted for this shock doctrine: the crazed destruction of industries, for skyrocketing mortgages, or for lower employment rights and environmental and safety standards.
That’s why I am not afraid to tell the truth – Wales belongs to the European family of nations. Scotland belongs to the European family of nations.
We must – and will – ensure a brighter future for our children by rejoining the European Union – together – as independent nations.
We’re told in Wales that we’re too poor to be independent. Too small to run our own affairs.
Well, new research by Professor John Doyle of Dublin City University debunks that argument.
Time and again, we have heard wild estimates about an independent Wales’s likely fiscal gap – that is the difference between public expenditure and what Wales raises in taxes.
Surprise, surprise: Professor John Doyle shows our fiscal gap would be a fraction of what the unionists quote at us. In his words: ‘Wales’s fiscal gap is not sufficiently large to close off the possibility of a viable, independent Wales.’
It shows once and for all that ‘fantasy economics’ are peddled by those who fear our independence.
That’s because – independence is normal. Chronic inequality under the Union is not normal.
It is our duty now to show that it isn’t ‘independence for independence’s sake’. It’s independence for the sake of a more prosperous economy, wealthier citizens, and a more outward-looking nation taking our place among the nations of the world.
So how do we go about achieving that?
We must be eagled eyed about the purpose of our shared political project.
All of us in this place are here to improve the lives of the people of our respective nations. But we can’t work in isolation.
Scottish independence, Welsh independence, Irish Unity. We are a common movement that exists and strives to build a better future, in stark opposition to the vicious inequality at the heart of the United Kingdom.
We must therefore act as one for the common good.
When Liz Truss says she will ‘face down the separatists who threaten to pull apart our precious union, our family’
We know it’s not about pulling a family apart.
When a family is this dysfunctional, it’s only right and fair for all the members to demand a voice.
Let’s rebuild this family on an equal footing.
As you approach your independence referendum next year – Plaid Cymru will be there alongside you.
We will stand with you against the parties of Liz Truss and Keir Starmer, and their red, white and blue jingoism.
We’ll be with you, the people of Scotland, standing up for democracy and self-determination.
Last week, I marched with 10,000 people on our capital city – Cardiff – in favour of our own independence. We’re building our nation’s economy and institutions ready for an independence referendum too.
When that day comes, I know you’ll all be standing alongside us too, for a fairer, more democratic and more prosperous Wales.
Diolch yn fawr. Thank you.