Friday, 18 July 2008

Manifesto- A Bridge to the Future

We live in probably the most exciting political times in the history of Plaid Cymru. We are providing leadership and vision to our National Government and at a local level are playing our part in governing our communities all across Wales. Our time as a party has come, and the next few years offer enormous opportunities – to secure a proper parliament, to become the largest party in Wales and to put in place a framework to safeguard the language for generations to come. The opportunities are immense.

But with opportunity comes responsibility, and alongside our opportunities and responsibilities come challenges – the challenges of a new political era, the challenges of building a stronger and more vibrant Plaid Cymru. I’ve thought long and hard as to whether to put my name forward for one more two year term as President. But the more I thought of the challenges ahead, the more I wanted to play my part in building a stronger party as we look to a better future for our nation.

As a party, we have professionalised enormously over the past few years. We have become a party of government for the first time and we have won elections in every corner of our land. But as we enter our next phase of development I think we face a major choice. We can develop our professionalisation even further, with our increasing numbers of elected members, and staff given more and more responsibility – much as New Labour did in the 1990s. On one level this was enormously successful, but what profiteth a man if he wins the whole world but loses his own soul? Our tradition in Plaid Cymru is very different to New Labour’s. Ours is about us the members of the party running the party, making the decisions that count and moving us forward. As we look to the future, we must reinvigorate our party and bring our members to the forefront of our activities – because if we are to succeed, as I know we can, then we must build our success on the active and informed participation of our members in our work.

I’ve always been a grassroots politician, and that’s why I think that as the relationships between government, party and elected members are defined anew, the Party needs more than ever a grassroots politician as President. A President whose aim is to be a bridge – a bridge to a better future for the party, a bridge between the members and our professional politicians, a bridge to self government for Wales.

Tros Gymru

Dafydd Iwan

Now more than ever in my view, the party needs a President who can speak on behalf of the members and act as a bridge to our elected members. I have spent decades working with our elected leaders, with Ieuan, Jill, Elfyn; the two Dafydds and Gwynfor before them; and know the enormous work that they do on a daily basis. I also know how much our elected members rely on the party membership the length and breadth of Wales to campaign, to raise funds and to work in our communities. Our members must know that they are a key part of our work.

I want to hear the views of members on how best the President can act as a bridge, but here are a number of ideas I’d like to implement over the next two years:

• Rolling Question Time. Prior to every NEC and National Council meeting I’d like to give all members the opportunity to put questions direct to the President. The NEC is a small body, and not everyone can make it to National Council in person – I want to give every member a voice. I’ll make sure all members' questions and comments are answered and I'll develop a Frequently Asked Questions section in my report and publish it on the web-site.

• Regular membership surveys to involve members but also to provide suggestions and advice on action. We should also consider consultative polls on some of the major issues facing the party. The aim here is to develop a strong base of active members feeding in their views through the President to our elected members.

• Develop the President’s Section on the Plaid Cymru web-site with interactive elements, videos and news.

Our party is nothing without our members. Travelling the length and breadth of Wales to branches and constituencies, meeting and talking to members is a vital part of the role of president. Our members are our foundation stone, and we should make every effort to involve grassroots party members in our activities. Members are also the bridge to our local communities, raising issues of concern and making sure the party is listening to peoples' priorities and letting us know when we haven’t got something quite right! Over the next two years as President I want to make sure members remain at the heart of our activities.
I will:

• Continue to enthuse and encourage members and launch a proactive programme of visiting every constituency at least once during the term of office.

• Work closely with CymruX to support and develop our younger members. The youth are our future, yet too often as a party CymruX and our younger membership are an afterthought. A strong CymruX is vital if we are to build a stronger party and nation.

• Support the development of National Sections. Our sections bring in new members to the party and are a key plank of support particularly for members new to politics. We need to support our sections nationally with the investment of time and resources.

• Reinvigorate conference with topical debates, more use of web-based forums and use of interactive technology to expand the audience of conference to all plaid members – not just those sat in the conference hall.

• Use new technology to the full to promote Plaid’s message whether its youtube videos, blogs or even a Plaid island on Second Life, we have to be at the forefront of technological innovation as befits a modern dynamic party.

• Rejuvenate the Presidents Club with more local sessions for members, strategy sessions with the President, key staff and NEC members.

As a Party we have made enormous strides forward in recent years. Those who lived through the despair of 1979 and the Thatcher years will be amazed at how much has been achieved. However, our achievements thus far are just the beginning. If we are to truly realise our potential as a people and a nation then we can only do so as an independent country. At our conference in Newport, Elin Jones highlighted the frustrations of representing the Welsh Assembly Government in Europe, while countries the same size and smaller than Wales all have a voice at the top table. But I’m sure there are countless more examples of how Wales is poorly served by dependence on our neighbour to the east! We need to put the case for more self government for Wales and our ultimate aim of independence with clarity and confidence. Our sister party in Scotland has shown the way with a combination of a vision of an independent Scotland alongside high quality governance. We need to match our effectiveness in government with effectiveness in our campaign for our longer term goals.
I want to see:

• Plaid Cymru leading the way by undertaking the detailed policy work to make the case for independence.

• Plaid Cymru using the platform of our European campaign to highlight the way other small, successful and independent European countries are powering forward while Wales is in danger of getting left behind.

• A series of pamphlets, podcasts and videos produced under the title ‘Talking about Independence’ – discussing the issues and opening up the debate.

My vision of the Presidency is rooted in the recognition of the importance of our members. I want to be a people’s President, a bridge to a stronger future for the party and our nation, but I can only achieve these aims with your support. Give me your ideas, your views and even your complaints, because together we can build a stronger party.

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Nominated By:

I am proud to have been nominated for the post of Presidency by the following branches and constituencies:

Arfon Constituency
Bontnewydd Branch
Bro Ingli Branch
Carmarthen Branch
Canton/Llandaf/Radyr Branch
Cynon Valley Branch
Dinas Powys Branch
Dyffryn Ogwen Branch
Rhondda Constituency
Fairwater Branch
Llanelli Branch
Llangyndeyrn Branch
Mid-Rhondda Branch
Pontypridd Branch
Swansea West Branch
Treherbert Branch
Ynys Môn Constituency