This election is about choosing not only a leader for Plaid Cymru, but a leader for Wales – a First Minister that can build support from across Wales for a bold Plaid Cymru vision.
I was born in Rhondda Cynon Taf, brought up in Meirionnydd then on Anglesey. I’ve lived and worked for many years as a journalist and broadcaster in Cardiff, as well as in London. I’ve been lucky to have got to know communities in all parts of our nation, and I’ve always known that only Plaid Cymru can offer a truly ambitious new future for our country.
Five years ago, I stood for election, and with my team on Ynys Môn and Plaid Cymru friends nation-wide we’ve built a solid base of support across the island’s diverse communities – and now have the largest majority for any party in any Assembly constituency. Building on the hard work done by previous leaders, I’m excited about the opportunity to lead Plaid Cymru’s efforts to attract new support in all parts of the country.
In the Assembly, I’ve held both the Economy and Health portfolios, both key policy areas. Many of you juggling busy lives, working and bringing up families, will know it’s hard sometimes to keep the balance. My guitar-playing and rugby coaching get squeezed all too often! But my record shows I’m ready to put in the work. I want my children and theirs to see Wales growing in confidence. We owe it to the future of all our children and all our communities to build a more equal and a more prosperous independent nation.
Leadership is about values, building trust and communication but it’s also about ideas. I will bring together the best ideas from across the party. Here I outline some of mine.
A focus on Wales’ true potential in all our policy aims, with an ‘i-Plan’– explaining what we could achieve through independence – published alongside our current programme, which is constrained by limited devolved powers. As First Minister, I will undertake the first ever Government-led study of the real opportunities and challenges on the road to an independent Wales, as we build a new nation and redesign the relationship between the countries of these islands.
Innovation in infrastructure: transport network to unite Wales; 5G test-beds; Wales-wide EV charging network; energy efficiency and generation revolution including a Wales-led tidal lagoons programme. New development agency, focusing on indigenous SME growth. Develop a new, confident Wales brand, for sectors from food to farming, technology to tourism. ‘Bring Your Skills Home’ strategy to attract graduates and other skilled workers back to Wales.
I still passionately believe in the benefits of EU membership for Wales and fear the consequences of an ill-thought-out Brexit. This should always have been a 2-step referendum. Both leave and remain voters must now be respected, with the choice now given to the people –– to accept or reject the poor deal/no deal EU exit that is looming. The British establishment is ready to put the blame for their failures on those who voted Leave in good faith. Don’t let them get away with it.
An education system which allows all our children to achieve their potential and become successful adults. We need to give educators freedom to raise and realise the aspirations of Wales’ young citizens. A system that works for Wales will put equal importance on creativity, arts and culture as well as literacy, numeracy and science.
Youth welfare to be at the heart of Government decision-making. A new ‘Young Wales Plan’ to support young people, promoting good physical and mental health. Unprecedented physical activity investment in school and community. Establish a new ‘Young Wales’ information and citizenship service. Renewed targets on child poverty.
A new innovation drive – in both technology and service delivery with a focus on supporting the health workforce. Twin-edged community health strategy combining illness prevention with recruitment into health and care professions. Build on the Plaid Cymru-led expansion of medical training places with the creation of a centre for excellence in rural and bilingual healthcare. Rebalancing funding towards primary care.
Culture can unite us and awaken Welsh identity. Art and culture in education can drive up standards, too, and we must strengthen the teaching of Welsh history. Each child in education in Wales should have the same opportunity to speak both our national languages – fluency for all by 16 must be the aim, ending current discrimination. We must deliver new support for adult learning.
Connect rural Wales, and accelerate urban transport innovation. Review planning policy to reflect the lives and needs of people in both urban and rural Wales. Support rural Wales, valuing rural enterprise and backing agriculture in the face of the Brexit threat. Seek a new deal for rural school clusters.
Plaid Cymru’s strength is in its members, branches and constituency parties. I will offer clear leadership whilst always listening to grassroots. I will strive to create a new unity, based on respect, celebrating difference, welcoming new ideas and inviting open debate among a broad membership base. We must bring in new members, strengthen our fundraising, invest in key growth constituencies and sharpen our party operations. I will aim to bring about a new sense of common purpose for elected representatives at all levels.
The Plaid Cymru leadership contest is all about Wales, and the future of our country. I’m standing because I know Wales and the people of Wales are being held back from reaching their potential, and I want to share and lead a new vision about what Wales can be.
I want to be leader of Plaid Cymru to kickstart that process of building up Wales. I want everyone who wants to focus on that nation-building programme to feel like they have a home in Plaid Cymru. We’re your party, whatever your background, wherever you’re from, whether you were born and bred in Wales or you moved here yesterday.
The Assembly Member for Ceredigion Elin Jones has announced that she will be giving Rhun ap Iorwerth her first vote in the Plaid Cymru leadership election. In a statement today, she said:
"I’ll be voting for change. I do so, not as a criticism of the current leadership, but in recognition that we need to achieve more. These are extraordinary times and require creative and confident parties. We cannot risk timidity in our response to the challenges facing our country as a result of the Brexit referendum."
During a visit to Ffridd Farm in Llandegai today with Dafydd Wigley, Plaid Cymru leadership candidate, Rhun ap Iorwerth, said he was eager to lead a Plaid Cymru that would recognise that our countryside is a treasure, not a burden.
It’s about seeing national confidence and social fairness growing hand in hand with economic prosperity, for the good of all people in Wales.
"Since I no longer have confidence in Theresa May’s ability to deliver a ‘good Brexit’ for Wales because of the massive divisions in her own party and given that the likelihood of a no-deal scenario is more likely by the day, I have come to the conclusion that we should be demanding a fresh referendum. It should be a binary choice, either to back a deal struck by Theresa May (or no deal if that happens) or to stay in the EU. The people of Wales stand a better chance of making an informed choice this time round, given that the full implications of Brexit have been laid bare."
"Pride Cymru is a great celebration of equality and of emphasising the message that we are an inclusive Wales that believes in love rather than hate; a country that rejects any sort of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia; and a country that recognises and appreciates the contribution of the gay, bisexual and transsexual community in Wales."
We have an opportunity to renew and strengthen our ambition for a confident future for Wales. I’m ready to lead Plaid Cymru to lead Wales, building a new trust with voters, and communicating our vision.
Plaid Cymru has to lead the way to a new Wales, and we will do this together. Your part in this election campaign and supporting me as Plaid Cymru leader will be vital.
Thank you for your support. Diolch.
Get in touch with a message of support and/or offer to help with the campaign
Download our campaign materials and share them on your social media
Attend Hustings. Details can be found here