Adam Price Speech to Plaid Cymru Conference
Below is the full text of Adam Price's speech to Plaid Cymru conference on the 4 October 2019.
Being from the same valley as Ryan Davies, when the staff told me you’re going to be on stage in the Swansea Grand in October I thought, jiw jiw, that’s a bit early for pantomime.
My mother used to come and see him here, and one time she arrived late with her mother and two heavy bags of shopping and before she knew it she provided the next half an hour of unscripted entertainment. She’s in the front row today. She’s been there since half eight just in case. And I still get to embarrass her. Sori, mam.
It is great to be here in Swansea, sometimes known as the Naples of the North – except we in Wales know that is Llandudno. We are fortunate in Wales to have two Naples. Italy only has one.
Swansea is a city of invention. It was the home of the world’s first fare-paying railway. Site of the first building of reinforced concrete in these islands, as far back as 1897. And it can boast a legion of luminaries in science and technology.
William Grove who invented the fuel cell. E.G. Bowen – Plaid Cymru member – who developed airborne radar in World War Two to beat the Nazis, and went on to defeat the BBC in demonstrating that having mountains didn’t mean half of Wales had to get its radio from the West Country.
It was here in Swansea Bay that the first submarine telegram was sent with the help of John Dillwyn Llywelyn, who went on to trial the world’s first electrically powered boat. And more recently Alan Cox of Swansea helped develop the kernel that went into the Android phone – so half the world has a tiny bit of Swansea in their pocket, and the other half, with iphones, have chips powered by a company from Cardiff. Not bad for a country of 3 million people.
This city, first dubbed the Copperoplis, found its greatest wealth was the talent and creativity of its people. And a minute into my speech I haven’t even mentioned Dylan Thomas.
We have to find a way of tapping into that seam of self-confidence.
My father who is also here today mined y Gwythien Coch, the red vein, that snaked its way from the ground beneath our feet to Ammanford.
Richard Burton, the Prince of Port Talbot and Pontrhydyfen, speaking about his own father said this:
“Miners believed themselves to be the aristocrats of the working class….They had these muscular buttocks….(only Richard Burton could get away with a line like that) – and walked with the arrogant strut of the lords of the coalface. They were the Kings of the Underworld. They looked down on people from below.”
Miners were often actual victims – of disease, of accidents, of injustice – but they never saw themselves as victims. They carried themselves with the eternal swagger of someone who knows they had the power to move mountains.
So let’s all of us find our inner miner.
There is much in Wales that is wrong, but nothing that we cannot put right.
We have 11% of the railway tracks in the United Kingdom but get less than 1% of the investment.
The British Government has invested more in a railway – HS2 – that they will never build, than they’ve spent on capital projects in Wales in the last ten years.
Well it’s time to end that injustice.
If we were independent we would and we will have other means available.
If we were a EU Member in our own right we’d get £2 billion extra from the Cohesion Fund– just as Ireland did when it was poorer than Wales and look at them now: 50% bigger by population, 500% richer in GDP.
As an independent country we could issue our own long-term bonds, even with negative interest rates. The Financial Times should be required reading for every Welsh Nationalist at the moment.
Such is the demand for the safe harbour of sovereign debt in an uncertain world that governments are able to enjoy negative interest rates – bond holders are paying Governments for the privilege of lending them money. Germany has just issued a 30 year bond which yields less than 0% - as is the case now with the majority of Government bonds in Europe. A few weeks ago Austria announced a 100-year bond, the longest ever in history, which, if held to maturity, will give the lender only half their money back.
And an independent Wales would be able to avail itself of this huge historic opportunity.
Except at this unique moment, where the cost of borrowing is at an all-time low, Westminster limits the Welsh Government’s borrowing as Thatcher used to rate-cap councils.
This is the opportunity cost of being – to use a much-liked phrase – a vassal nation.
So if Westminster won’t let us issue a bond then it’s time it paid its debts to us.
And I don’t mean charity but the money we’re owed for all the wealth that cascaded through ports like this with hardly a penny flowing back to Wales.
We don’t want anyone’s charity – but reparation for a century of neglect that has left a country, rich in its resources, a bitter legacy of poverty, sickness, blighted lives and broken dreams.
The DUP’s mouths were stuffed with £1 billion.
Westminster owes us twenty times that for the wealth that they stole. Northern Ireland deserves a New Deal absolutely, but surely that’s right for Wales too.
So anyone who comes knocking our door now or in the future must know that economic justice will be at the very head of the list of our demands.
Oh, and we want our water back too.
Our days of lying down are over.
We’re getting ready to stand on our own two feet.
We demand the means to heal our broken country, a National Reconstruction programme, a £20 billion Fund for Wales, £2 billion a year in a Decade of Transformation. We’re done with cementing the privilege of others, we’ll build a road out of poverty and exclusion, we’ll build a road to prosperity for all, we’ll build a road to our own better future. And this time it’s Westminster that will be paying the toll.
From Swansea’s Copperopolis to King Coal’s vast realm, Wales was anvil and furnace for the workshop of the world. It was quite literally the locomotive of the industrial revolution, where Trevithick’s engine puffed its way on those very first railway tracks.
At the Coal Exchange in 1907, a stone’s throw from our Senedd, the first million pound deal was signed and delivered, but for us in Wales the story of the 20th century was one of plunder not profit.
Westminster rule in Wales has left the deepest of scars, in our landscape and in our lives. Deprived of our inheritance we were left without the tools –the levers and pulleys - with which to prise ourselves out of the rut of poverty.
Cofiwch Dryweryn – Remember Tryweryn – a mural that has moved a nation should be engraved on the walls of Whitehall too - a permanent memorial to injustice to the villages drowned to serve not our own but another nation’s needs. And it’s not just Tryweryn that is a gaping wound in our memory – but Epynt, Clywedog, Aberfan.
No one has put this case better than the great Phil Bennet who fired up the national team ahead of the 977 Grand Slam decider against England:
“They’ve taken our coal, our water, our steel. What have they given us? Absolutely nothing”
He even got the famously placid Gareth Edwards worked up when he said they’d stolen the rivers as well. Keen angler, Gareth.
We can’t rebuild the village of Capel Celyn, but we can rebuild our country. What we need now urgently is a new sense of hope and the means to finance it.
Wales is at a watershed moment, with the world spinning on its axis. All the focus now is on a No Deal Brexit. But Wales has had No Deal, No Plan, No Policy for the last hundred years - since forcing Germans to produce coal for free left Wales overnight without a market.
Consider this - Wales is the fifth largest exporter of electricity in the world – placed above energy rich Norway and its $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund built on surpluses for its energy policy. And yet there are factories in Wales with full order books that cannot expand simply because they cannot afford to connect to the National Grid whose patchy footprint means in Wales its very name is something of a fiction. We are a 21st century nation with 19th century problems.
We need something on the scale of the Marshall Plan after World War Two, or the Solidarity Fund in post-reunification Germany. Such is the size of the wealth gap in this so-called United Kingdom. Unionists say they value this Union. Well, we’ve started the stopwatch, you’re on borrowed time Now is your chance to prove it.
Imagine what we could do with a Sovereign Welsh Fund to rebuild our country from the bottom up.
We could almost double the capital investment budget of the Welsh Government overnight.
A multi-billion pound programme could catapult Wales from leader to laggard in half a generation. Past weakness could even become a future strength. Thanks to years of under-investment Wales is akin to a blank piece of paper. We could become an Innovation Nation, a test-bed for the leading edge, where the Wales of 2030 – carbon-free, super-automated and hyper-digital – is the world of 2050 in prototype.
And if Westminster refuses to pay its debts, the next Plaid Cymru Government will commit to a step change in the level of our annual infrastructure investment as a nation – increasing it by 2% of GDP by 2025 through the kind of National Infrastructure Mission that the Scottish Government have just announced.
Raising that bar of ambition can reconnect our country, north to south and east to west, for the first time in fifty years since Dr Beeching wielded Westminster’s axe.
We will build a Trans-Wales Railway from Swansea through Carmarthen to Aberystwyth and Bangor and on to Ynys Mon – not just a transport corridor along our western seaboard, but a national expressway of people and ideas, knowledge and opportunity, linking business and four universities along its path, with flourishing science and business parks at each one of its nodes.
We’ll build for Wales a digital spine, with our network of road and railways the nerve endings through which we’ll bring 5G, fibre and satellite technologies to every community.
We can transform Wales from bottom of the pile to leader of the pack:
· Giving gigabit broadband to homes and Terabit to business and public services
· and creating a global competitive advantage for key homegrown sectors like precision medicine and agriculture, autonomous vehicles, big data, artificial intelligence, smart cities, advanced manufacturing and aerospace, and other evolving industries.
They’ve begun to do it in along the Trans-Pennine Express so let’s get the Heart of Wales pumping too, the lifeblood of the 21st century: connectivity.
In the former coalfield, getting from one Valley requires the heroism of Odysseus and, soon, a bladder the size of an elephant. The tracks were put there to extract the coal not connect communities.
Well, let’s put that right.
London is slated to have its second Crossrail, and now the north of England is going to get one too. Well, this is Wales’ time. Time to build a Crossrail for the Valleys. A Plaid Cymru Government will create a new 50 km rapid transit service from Treherbert to Pontypool. Connecting the East and the West pf the former coalfield end to end in a hour and ten minutes, allowing cross-valley travel, for the first time in 50 years.
If we want to change the Valleys then this is the level of ambition we need.
· Connecting a quarter of a million people with new opportunities.
· Creating a real metro not Labour’s scaled-down pretend one.
We’ll take people out of their cars by giving them a real alternative.
And give a massive new impetus to the economies of Pontypridd, Blackwood, Ystrad Mynach, Pontllanffraith and the Rhondda.
Creating a new tourist offer the length and breadth of the Valleys Regional Park.
Of course this is ambitious. It would take some years to build. And there would be challenges. We’d have to cross the Ebbw Valley at Crumlin. But over a century ago we succeeded in building the world’s highest railway viaduct. If we did it then we can do it again.
Let the world to come to Ebbw Vale – and show them that Yes Wales Can.
And we’ll know what we’ll call the Heads of the Valleys Railways – Llinell Steffan, Steffan’s Line.
We’ll get it all up and running by 2028. But who knows with our Minister for the Future, Delyth Jewell, we may get there sooner.
Contrast that to what’s on offer from Labour.
The feasibility study for the Swansea Bay and Western Valleys Metro – yes, you’ve guessed it, leaves the Western Valleys out. Well, I’m pleased to announce that under the next Plaid Cymru Government, no valley will be left behind. The next Plaid Cymru Government will commit to reopening railway passenger services for the Amman, the Swansea, the Neath and Dulas Valleys.
And we’ll have some exciting proposals to address the problems of the M4 around Newport which we will also be publishing soon.
We’ll charge the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales with devising exciting plans and driving delivery in every part of Wales.
Hopefully with a bit more urgency than this Government.
The National Infrastructure Commission was established in 2018 as an
“…independent, non-statutory advisory body to Welsh Ministers whose key purpose will be to analyse, advise and make recommendations on Wales’ longer term strategic, economic infrastructure needs over a 5-30 year period.”
But apart from appointing Commissioners, nothing has been achieved so far.
It has no staff – apart from a single secondee. No terms of reference. Though, it has promised a State of the Nation Report 2022 – 4 years after it was set up.
Can you still call yourself progressive, when progress is so slow – or even runs backwards.
In 1999 there were 850 homeless households in temporary accommodation. Today it’s 2,229 – almost three times as much.
In the mid-90s Wales was building 3,200 social housing homes a year – now as a country we are achieving just one third of that. And it’s no good just blaming the Tories. In the mid-80s, at the height of Thatcherism and the right to buy, we were building 800 council houses a year. This year so far in Wales we’ve managed six.
It wasn’t meant to be like this.
Carwyn Jones seems to think that giving the Senedd an English language name is the way to cement support for devolution among the Valleys working class.
A statement that is offensive to those who do speak Welsh while patronising to those who don’t.
I’ve got a better idea – what about the Welsh Government making a lasting difference in people’s lives. Not managing problems, but solving them.
Since 1999 far from pursuing the visionary, transformational policies that were promised, Labour in Wales has tinkered at the fraying edges of a failing system. Instead of building an economic strategy around radical self-reliance they’ve touted free money to every passing multi-national corporation that leaves once the fountain runs dry.
Labour has both been original architect of austerity at Westminster, and the handmaidens of continuing Tory austerity here at home.
The cold, hard, truth is that the Brexit vote in 2016 wasn’t merely or even mainly a rejection of Europe. Rather, it was a rejection of politics as business as usual, of a complacency of twenty years of drift and decline – an indictment of the promise of a better life that devolution offered but, under Labour, failed to deliver.
So many of our communities voted Leave, because politics first left them – abandoned, neglected, economically desperate, politically invisible.
This was their one chance to express their anger – and they took it.
And we can’t ignore that. Nor should we.
But neither can we lie when we know that Boris Island – Deal or No Deal – would do to Welsh agriculture and Welsh manufacturing what a Tory Government did to our steelworks and our mines. And it’s the poorest and most vulnerable that would suffer the most.
I understand the anger.
In 1984 with Westminster’s boot on the windpipe of the Welsh economy I was angry too.
I was angry with a Labour Party that didn’t seemed to understand our anger.
I shared the anger of the dairy famers at EU milk quotas – especially as in the middle of the Strike they gave us their milk for free.
But I wondered why our farmers were protesting while the Irish weren’t – and realised it was not Brussels but Westminster that had sold us down the river.
Aiming our anger at the wrong target doesn’t solve our problems. It perpetuates them – which is what the Anglocrats want. Don’t believe their lies.
Brexit is the wrong answer to the right question.
The question is how do we change Wales.
Well, the answer is not like this. Not their way.
We can’t outsource the future.
If we put our belief in an outside force then change will never come.
If we don’t believe we can change things then they never will.
Brussels won’t change Wales.
But putting faith in Brexit and Boris and Farage is not us taking back control either. It’s the distorting mirror opposite. It’s giving control to them.
Their Brexit is disaster capitalism hyped-up by hedge funds poised to profit.
It’s a nostalgia for a Britain that never even existed.
It’s a Greater Little Englandism – and yes, that is a contradiction – that wants to swallow Wales whole.
I believe Boris Johnson by the way when he says he’s a One Nation Tory. Guess who that One Nation is. Well it certainly isn’t us.
There are no circumstances ever in which we could support No Deal.
You know politicians don’t sign the Hippocratic Oath – some of them seem to sign the Hypocritic Oath – but do no harm as you see it seems a pretty good dictum.
And we could never stand by in silence and allow our people to suffer from a reckless, senseless, breakneck Brexit for which there is no mandate, no rationale, no excuse.
As wartime metaphors are in vogue, then to No Deal we are conscientious objectors. We reject and revoke the pathological nihilism of Cummings and crew. We will do everything we peaceably can to protect the land and the people we love.
And it’s the people that should decide what happens next – not scheming, scowling courtiers like Cummings or even Seumas Milne.
We need a final say now and then a General Election which isn’t simply another Brexit Election.
I’m glad to see that Jeremy Miles agrees with us. Mark Drakeford can’t make his mind up which Jeremy he agrees with. And Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t even know if he agrees with himself.
The British Labour Party has been accused of having more positions on Brexit than the Kama Sutra. Welsh Labour have said they will be producing their own equally confusing but less exciting version of the Kama Sutra at the next election, otherwise known as the Okey Cokey.
You put the Single Market in, take the customs union out. In, Out, In, Out
Then you shake it all about.
In this party, we are clear where we stand.
To quote the late great Gwyn Alf Williams:
“We are not parish pump Messiahs we are Welsh Nationalists in an ancient European country with an ancient European language.”
Wales will live and thrive as an European nation; or it will die as a British backwater. That’s the choice we face – and on that choice our fate depends.
Gyfeillion, mae nôd cyntaf cyfansoddiad Plaid Cymru yn datgan mai ein gweledigaeth yw i “sicrhau annibyniaeth i Gymru yn Ewrop.”
Cenedl rydd, cenedl gydradd, yn cymryd ei lle ochr yn ochr a’i chefndryd cyfandirol.
Mae e wedi bod yn rhan o’r weledigaeth craidd ers y dechrau – a Saunders Lewis, tra’n byw yn y ddinas hon, wrth ymateb I’w brofiad yn y ffosydd yn Ffrainc, yn penderfynu gwrthod Prydeindod a chofleidio’r syniad o Gymru Rydd yn rhan o Ewrop aml-ieithog, heddychlon, unedig.
Ac felly heb amheuaeth, heb amod, heb edifar am ennyd, rwy’n datgan fy ymrwymiad disymwth i sicrhau dyfodol Cymru yn Ewrop fel Prif Weinidog nesaf ein cenedl.
Does yr un fersiwn o Brexit yn dda, dim un cytundeb yn well na’r hyn sydd gennym yn barod.
Nid Brwsel sydd wedi creu ein cynni, nid yn Strasbourg y lluniwyd llymder.
A ninnau nawr ar y dibyn, y peth doeth yw cymryd cam yn ôl. Y bobl gafodd y gair cyntaf a nhw ddylai gael y gair olaf.
Yr unig lais mae Boris am ei glywed yw ei lais ei hun – does dim rhesymu gyda rhywun sydd yn cau drysau democratiaeth a gwneud trallod o’r trafod.
A beth am Corbyn a’i griw? All Llafur ddim canfod eu llais ei hun heb son am roi llais i neb arall.
Pan fo amaethwyr, cynhyrchwyr, diwydiannwyr, a mentraf i ddweud newyddiadurwyr yn proffwydo cyflafan economaidd o adael yr Undeb Ewropeaidd – mae rhaid i ni gwrando. Eu consyrn nhw fydd ein cenhadaeth ni.
Mae nostalgia Prydeinig gwenwynig yn hiraethu am gyfnod pan roedd pawb yn edrych yr un fath, yn swnio yr un fath ac yn meddwl yr un fath – a does dim lle i’r Gymraeg o fewn eu monolith nhw.
Trysori’r hyn sydd yn gyffredin a dathlu’r hyd sydd yn wahanol, dyna nodwedd cymdeithas wâr.
Caiff eraill son am gardiau adnabod i fudwyr, adnabod eu cyfraniad fyddwn ni’n ei wneud.
Fel prif Blaid ‘AROS’ Cymru mae’n neges ni’n un syml.
Ie i bleidlais y bobl, i roi’r cyfle i chi sydd yma ac adref yn gwrando gael datrys yr anhrefn hyll.
Mae mantra ecomomaidd Ewrop yn antidote i wleidyddiaeth gwyrdroedig San Steffan.
Wrth i bleidlau unoliaethol gronni cyfoeth ym milltir sgwar dinas Llundain – mae’r Undeb Ewropeaidd wedi rhoi help llaw, nid cil dwrn.
O’r cydweithio cyfandirol nid o’r cyfraniadau Ceidwadol y crewyd miloedd o swyddi, miloedd o fentrau newydd a miloedd o gymwysterau – tra oedd San Steffan yn gwneud llythrennol dim.
Ffrindiau, pe na fyddai’r Undeb Ewropeaidd a Chymru yn wlad annibynnol
byddwn ni mewn ras wyllt i’w chreu hi. Diolch am ei chael hi, a hir oes iddi.
Yn y dyddiau diwethaf dwi wedi cyrraedd dwy garreg filltir. Fy mhenblwydd - rwy’n hyn ac yn ddoethach gobeithio!
Ac union wythnos yn ôl, mi oeddwn i’n cwblhau fy mlwyddyn gyntaf fel arweinydd y Blaid.
Wedi teithio i bob cwr o’n cenedl yn ystod y ras arweinyddol, prin yr ydw i wedi sefyll yn stond ers hynny.
Creadur diorffwys fues i erioed.
Ond gyfeillion, nid dim ond fi sydd byth yn llon pan yn llonydd!
Felly hefyd Cymru.
Ffrindiau, yn dawel, mae’r hen dir yn deffro. Tir afiaith a chwedloniaeth. Tir ein tadau a’n mamiaith.
O Faes yr hen dref yng nghysgod concwest i Ferthyr, i grud y gwrthryfel, mae’r gair ar led.
Gair yn y glust i gychwyn – gair distaw, gair gofalus, gair ofnus.
Ond gair sy’n prysur atseinio.
O res i res, i ddechrau’n ddirodres, ond tyfu mae ein hyder – Yes Yes Yes!
Gynhadledd, mae Cymru ar ei hymdaith – ac mae hynny am fod ein Plaid yn ei hanterth.
Trechu’r Blaid Lafur yn etholiadau Ewrop.
Torri tir newydd drwy gipio seddi mewn isetholiadau.
Ennill y blaen mewn arolygon barn am y tro cyntaf yn ein hanes.
Nifer ein haelodau ar ei lefel uchaf ers degawdau
A hyn i gyd o’ch herwydd chi.
Boed trwy guro drysau i gynnal sgyrsiau, dosbarthu taflenni neu lenwi amlenni.
Onherwydd ni, mae’r ddadl dros annibyniaeth wedi symud o’r cyrion i’r tir canol.
Ni’n dymchwel hen waliau wrth godi’r ‘Walia’ newydd.
Mae’r murmur yn y muriau – mae rhywbeth mawr yn digwydd.
Ymhen deunaw mis, rwy’n gwbwl hyderus y bydd Plaid Cymru yn ffurfio llywodraeth gyntaf Cymru sydd o blaid annibyniaeth.
A phan ffurfiwn ni llywodraeth, rwy’n falch iawn y bydd gen i fel Prif Weinidog y tim gorau tu cefn i fi.
Nid ar chwarae bach mae cyrraedd y fath foment â hon, ond trwy flynyddoedd o waith diwyd a dyfal gan bobl ddawnus, ymroddedig, ac egwyddorol.
Nid lleiaf yn eu plith mae’r arweinwyr a ddaeth o mlaen i.
Mae pob un ohonynt – wel, gydag un eithriad amlwg efallai - wedi symud y blaid hon yn nes at ein nodau, ffurfio llywodraeth, trawsnewid y genedl, ac ennill annibyniaeth i Gymru.
Ga i ganmol yn arbennig Leanne Wood am fod yn gefn i fi yn ystod y flwyddyn ddiwethaf.
Mae Leanne yn athrylith o wleidydd cenedlaethol, ond mae hefyd yn actifydd penigamp yn ei chymuned. Mae ei chyfraniad i Gymru yn enfawr ac mae pob un ohonom yn ei dyled.
Ar y sail hynny – ond hefyd ar sail egwyddor y peth – roedd yn fraint i gydsefyll â Leanne yr wythnos hon yn y Senedd.
Mae Leanne yn byw ei hegwyddorion – fel mae hi wastad yn ei wneud. Yn ddiffuant, yn ddewr, ac yn ddiflino.
Leanne – rydym ni, bob un ohonom ni, yn cydsefyll â ti.
Nid oes lle i gasineb yn erbyn menywod yn ein Senedd. Nid oes lle i hynny ym mywyd Cymru. Ac ni fydd lle i hynny yn y Gymru newydd.
A ga i yn yr un ysbryd diolch i Liz a Jill am yr arweindyddiaeth a’r gwaith diflino am fod yn llewyrch i’n llwybr ar gyfnod tywyll iawn.
We find ourselves in one of those rare moments.
A blank page between the chapters of our history.
As so often in our past – the Wars of the Roses, the Reformation, the Civil War, Liverpool and Everton – we’ve imported England’s argument and made it our own.
But you know even amid the noise of the Brexit battlefield, the groundwork’s being laid for the renewal of hope.
A national revival of self-belief.
Our mission is to convince our people that independence is imperative if we are to solve our problems as a nation.
The highest peak in Wales is not Eryri – it is the Rocky Mountain of our own self-doubt, which weighs like an Alp on the mind of the living.
Base camp in the struggle to scale that mountain is seeding in people’s minds the knowledge that there’s nothing preordained by God about our poverty – it doesn’t have to be this way.
I know a little about poverty myself.
It’s not something I had to study in a book.
Aged 15 all my family had to sustain me was my Child Benefit and a little blue plastic token which gave me a free school meal. Crippled by debt after the Miner’s Strike I came within a hair’s breadth of having to come out of Sixth Form to get a job to put money on the table. My mother somehow scrimped and saved like only she can to get me through A Levels and on to University where my year was the last to receive a full grant.
I was raised out of poverty and I can never rest until we’ve done the same for every child in Wales.
The Welsh Labour Government had a target to end child poverty by 2020, a commitment like so many that they quietly dropped. Now we are the only country in these islands where child poverty is rising. A third of our children live in poverty – as many as half the children in Penrhiwceiber, Queensway in Wrexham; Pill in Newport; Butetown; Castle ward here in Swansea.
But the good news is we can do something about it and I’m pleased to announce that a Plaid Cymru Government will introduce a new Welsh Child Payment of £35 a week for every child in every low-income family in Wales, taking tens of thousands of our children out of poverty overnight.
If the Scottish Government can do it, then why not Wales?
And we’ll end the scourge of youth unemployment too – almost a quarter of 16-24 year olds are unemployed in Rhondda Cynon Taff – by creating a National Youth Job Guarantee as part of a package in our Youth Basic Income proposals.
While Labour has talked about it for twenty years we will introduce universal childcare for all children from aged one for 40 hours a week, helping us raise our employment levels to that of Switzerland and Iceland, and through the universal free provision of early learning centres combining education, child care, parenting support and health services, giving the best start in life to every child in Wales.
We’ll makes Wales not just a great country to grow up in, but a decent place to grow old in. Our new cradle to the grave promise to the Welsh people will see us finally deliver a seamless National Health and Care Service with social care free to all who need it. If Labour can promise to England what Scotland already has. then why don’t they do it when they are actually in Government in Wales?
Caring is the glue that binds communities. It’s the hallmark of a decent society. It’s what builds and sustains resilience. As we automate so much else, it’ll one of the things in the future that we humans will still do best.
As ambitions go, it’s not a bad one is it. To be the caring country. To care for each other, for our language and culture, our land, air and water.
We are after all the people that came up with the world’s best word for hugging. As well as the equal sign and the term socialism, and Cymru and community are from the same root.
Our people and our land are suffering. So let’s put our arms round each other and give this nation a cwtsh.
You know there is nothing sentimental about the politics of love.
Building the good society is going to take hard work. We’re all of us going to have to work harder, smarter, faster – to rebuild our economy so we can build out our dreams.
But we can get there.
If we turn the clock, not backward, but forward.
Wales is on the march, away from the politics of an imaginary English past, towards an imagined Welsh future, as yet undetermined, which makes it all the more exciting.
You know for all my love of history, it’s the future that inspires me most and I certainly don’t want to live in the past.
If I could build a time machine I’d like to go back to 1984 and meet my fifteen-year-old self, pensively pacing up and down in the corridor outside the upstairs room in Pantyffynnon Social Club on a wet Autumn night as Betws NUM host London Gays and Lesbians Support the Miners – Gethin from the film Pride among them. My teenage self is nervous as my father has just asked the Committee if I can say a few words. And yet there is something I really want to say but I can’t.
Would my teenage self believe me if I told him I’d not only find acceptance back home in Ammanford, but I’d become their Member of Parliament not once but twice. I’d want to tell him that everything would be fine.
More than that. To tell him that one day he’d tell this story to a roomful of people who see him as the next First Minister of Wales, while at home his son was watching wondering why Daddy was on TV not Cyw.
The arc of my life gives me hope.
The future will be better than the past.
Things get better if we make them better.
And we can, Yes we can.
We join this party because we hope.
We’re here today because we hope.
We will stand for election this year and next year and the year after, because we hope.
Of course, sometimes our hope has taken on an elegaic quality.
As a nation we remember most the battles we lost. We lionise our lost princes: Llywelyn, Lawgoch, Glyndwr, Dylan, Ryan.
And Catrin and Gwenllian, our lost princesses too.
For centuries we’ve been patiently waiting on the return of a sleeping lord, some long-lost leader to ride out and save the nation in its hour of greatest need.
The writer David Jones captured this greatest of all Welsh Myths in one of his finest poems. But it ends with these words:
Does the land wait the sleeping lord
or is the wasted land
that very lord who sleeps?
It’s the land itself that has to be brought back to life. It’s Wales that must wake. All along, we were the ones, the only ones that could save us.
And now is the hour, now is the time.
For a bird's eye view.
Am olwg oddi uchod.
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