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Leanne Wood, Bae Watch (September 2012)

(September 01, 2012)

  Bae Watch; with Leanne Wood

 Leanne Wood - Senedd


Summer provides a great opportunity for AMs to connect and engage with people at numerous shows and festivals. In recent weeks I have been to Sioe Môn, on Ynys Môn, the Royal Welsh Show in Llanelwedd and to the Eisteddfod in Llandow, where Plaid Cymru had very busy stalls. We had a very successful weekend in Llangrannog with the Plaid Cymru Summer School, and I also went to the Green Man festival, where I did an 'in conversation' slot in the Literature Tent with Rhondda author Rachel Trezise.

It’s been good to be able to have the time to spend with grassroots members of our party, who give their time so generously and selflessly. I've met and talked with newer members, many of whom are very keen to get involved in party activity. It's always good to discuss politics and to hear different perspectives and ideas. It is more than satisfying when those conversations lead to someone deciding to join the party.

It was a pleasure to welcome the unique cultural event that is the National Eisteddfod back to the South Wales Central region I represent in the Senedd. On the Friday I delivered a 30 minute speech in Welsh - a big deal for a could-be-more-confident Welsh learner like myself. In the speech I called for the next generation of children in Wales to be given the opportunity to be trilingual. This would be achieved by introducing a significantly higher degree of lessons through the medium of Welsh, for children by the end of Key Stage 2. Part of the plan is to create a 'Language Academy' to improve teachers' skills, and to explore and develop the best ways to learn languages for children and adults, in order to bring Wales into line with other European countries, where being tri or multi-lingual is the norm. I have asked Councillor Cefin Campbell, one of our leading experts in language planning, to assist with the detailed planning of this and he has agreed to report back with a strategy that will make it possible for a third of secondary schools in Wales to teach core subjects in a foreign language by 2025. If other European countries can do it, why not Wales?

The Eisteddfod week came straight after a stunning victory for Ian James Johnson in the council by-election in the Buttrills ward, where Plaid Cymru overturned a 22% Labour lead. This victory showed that my party can more than match Labour in their traditionally-strong areas - even against a tide of scaremongering messages about the Tories, repeated parrot-fashion all day, every day - something which seems to have become the norm during an election period. The win was symbolic too. The Buttrills ward in Barry, just a few miles from the Eisteddfod Maes, was the home ward of my predecessor, Gwynfor Evans.
Buttrills was a great result all round, made even sweeter as it came on the back of another council by-election victory on Ynys Môn. As well as congratulating Ian Johnson in Barry, we can also congratulate our other new councillor, Vaughan Hughes, who won the Llanbedrgoch ward in July, with another big swing towards Plaid Cymru. Buttrills and Llanbedrgoch are two very different places at opposite ends of the country, but both now have Plaid Cymru majorities.

Our next major event is our annual conference, which will be held in Brecon; at Theatr Brycheiniog, on the 14th and 15th of September. Jobs and the economy will be a major theme at the conference and I am looking forward to seeing what people think of our latest consultation document, Offa's Gap. This is the first piece of work produced by the Economy Commission, set up after I became leader of Plaid Cymru. Its in-depth analysis of Wales’ current economic situation makes for very stark reading. There should be widespread concern and a sense of urgency about addressing this statement from the report: 'In relative terms, as measured by economic output at least, the last 20 years is the worst period in Welsh economic history for which data exists.'

Will 'Offa's Gap' wake the Welsh Government from their collective slumber? Decisive action is needed, if we are to halt the downward economic spiral Wales has been in for the best part of two decades. Now is not the time for complacency or for more management of decline. We need to be bold and ambitious. We need to be demanding the extra powers our Assembly needs in order to implement policies that can address our economic problems. And we can't afford to waste any more time. Our poverty is not inevitable - we can turn it around, but only we can do it. No one is going to do it for us.

Plaid Cymru will make the economy our top priority; not just over the next few months but in the coming years. If achieving cultural self-confidence was the priority for Plaid during the last century, then achieving economic self-confidence will be our objective for the 21st Century.

A good reason to take charge of the tools which govern our economy and employment in Wales, can be seen in the example of Remploy. Remploy workers in Wales have recently been made redundant; just five years after the closure programme of 2007. Despite widespread agreement in the Senedd about the value of supported employment, the Welsh government failed to successfully press the case for the devolution of the Remploy budgets to Wales, which may well have saved at least some of the Remploy jobs. The government in Cardiff should now pull out all the stops to make sure the future of the remaining two factories is secured. I'd like to think that in the future, they could form the basis of a wider network of supported employment opportunities for people who struggle to find and maintain a job in the mainstream world - in a Wales where giving a choice of supported employment is something we still value as being important.

Leanne Wood, 1 September 2012



Also from Leanne Wood:

     Bae Watch; June 2012

     Bae Watch; March 2012

     Bae Watch; December 2011

     Bae Watch; September 2011

     Bae Watch; June 2011


Leanne Wood contact details:


     Facebook: Leanne Wood

     Twitter: @LeanneWood




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