Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Campaigning for a Better Wales

The annual Plaid Cymru conference kicks off tomorrow in Aberystwyth. I’m looking to catching up with fellow-travellers and discussing politics. The next 12 months, with key elections and, hopefully, the referendum on Assembly powers, taking place, will shape Welsh politics for a generation. This conference is Plaid's chance to make sure we are ready.

Plaid leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones has nominated me as the party’s representative on the all-party steering group to campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote. Meetings have been held over the summer and strategies are being drawn up to make sure we can run a campaign we can win. A NO vote in this referendum would be a devastating blow to our confidence as a nation and to the devolution project, which most people see as a positive development in Wales.

We simply have to win this vote.

It's crucial that the Assembly has the tools it needs to do the job. With public spending cuts likely to have a bigger impact in Wales it's vital that our Assembly is strong enough to help Wales withstand the coming storm.

At the moment, the Assembly has to obtain permission from Westminster to make laws in devolved areas. It's a bureaucratic nightmare worthy of a political satire. The debacle over the Housing Legislative Competence Order (LCO), which was left on the back burner for three years before finally being rubber stamped recently, is a case in point.

This is why UNDEB (Plaid's Trades Union arm) has decided to concentrate on the referendum at this year's Plaid Cymru conference. We have teamed up with Cymru Yfory to officially kick start Plaid’s campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum. UNDEB’S Ian Titherington will provide the arguments as to why workers and the trade union movement should support the ‘Yes’ campaign and former Ceredigion MP, Cynog Dafis, will provide practical information about setting up campaign groups, messages and communications on behalf of Tomorrow's Wales.

A NO vote will severely weaken the Assembly's ability to act as a shield to protect those people in our communities who will be most vulnerable to cuts and high levels of unemployment, which are on their way.

Everyone who believes the destiny of this country should be in the hands of this country, should get involved in the ‘Yes’ campaign. I’m hoping there will a good attendance and lively discussion at the fringe event tomorrow.

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