Below is a brief summary of the speeches given by the three Plaid Cymru leadership contenders in Cardiff on 2 February.
At the bottom of this post is the video (14 minutes) of the actual speeches.
Breaking the ice with a little ‘Assembly humour’, Dafydd suggests we are entering in a new era for Wales and talks about the challenges that face us including changing climate, economics and the future constitution of the UK – given Scotland’s march to independence – wrapping up with a reference to a Roc Cymraeg oldy-goldy. The inference seems to be that these are uncertain, even historic times and steady hand on the helm is needed. He keeps his speech to a merciful 3½ minutes but only in Welsh which I found a little odd having discovered recently that he can speak English fluently.
Elin warns us not to think that Scotland and Wales are comparable on our roads to independence and then goes on to highlight Plaid’s highest priority – “rescuing communities from this recession” and creating a “second industrial revolution” – “all of this is within our control”. She emphasised the need to broaden the appeal of the party to the majority. She is ready to lead party, and even topple Carwyn Jones to become the next Prif Weinidog. She reminds us she has been a long-term politician and underlines her good leadership characteristics: experience and ambition. She spoke for 6½ minutes.
Leanne launched into the need to reform a failed capitalist system that was “exposing poor and vulnerable people” and threatens the welfare state. Solutions included harnessing renewable energies, combating climate change, by means of [state?] control over natural resources. Her top priority is jobs and economy. “Real independence is a means to an end, not the end in itself”. The goal is to get the power to protect communities, language, and “build communities from bottom up”. In her Wales, “everyone who can work – does!”. To achieve these goals she tells us we need “full control” over resources and the economy (which justifies independence). She spoke for 4 minutes.
Review (the Verdict)
It’s hard to tell where Dafydd is coming from. He keeps his cards close to his chest. Elin and Leanne throw what they believe to be their best cards down on the table.
I have no doubt that Dafydd would make a good diplomat. When I’m President of the Welsh Republic I will not hesitate in selecting him to head up diplomatic missions to a troubled areas, such as England. Dafydd is clearly the ‘safe choice’.
Both Elin and Leanne present similar versions of “it’s the economy, stupid” theme characterising Wales as “poor and vulnerable” needing “protecting” and “rescuing”.
Although their intentions may be honourable their approach is worrying. Coupled with a religious-like desire for ‘full control to fix the system and save their people’ Elin and Leanne are concocting a recipe for an oppressive, controlling governance ‘for our own good’.
Many years ago I might have been inspired by their rhetoric of championing the downtrodden and building the New Jerusalem. But I have long since replaced those comic books for instruction manuals on how things really work.
Sure, Wales has deep systemic problems, as does the entire Western World, but it’s still a place where the English are moving to in the thousands. Mass English immigration is more of a threat to Welsh nationhood than the economy. Our real vulnerability is our open borders.
The economy could be easily corrected without oppressive government interference. We simply need to find the courage to say ‘enough is enough’ to private banks’ fraudulent control of the money supply.
The spirit of genuine democracy and true independence is anarchistic in nature. Only when ‘we the people’ become empowered, both politically and financially, will we be truly free and independent.
When it comes to the ‘perfect leader’ I like what Lao Tzu wrote many many centuries ago:
“Of the great leaders the people will say we did it ourselves.”
in other words, the best leaders inspire and enable – not proscribe.