Friday, 10 September 2010
Ieuan Wyn Jones's speech to conference
“Let me make it clear that Plaid Cymru’s intention is to defend the best we can expenditure on our hospitals and schools, and those essential services that people depend on. We will not let the London governments axe break our spirit or our ambitions for our country and it’s people.” That was the bold declaration of Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones the leader of Plaid Cymru to his party conference. Quite how, was never made clear.
He was forecasting nearly £5 billion of cuts between now and 2015. He had to admit that whatever George Osborne said with 20 per cent of the budget being cut and with 40 per cent of the expenditure going on health it will be impossible for any government to exclude health from the axe.
This was the first and the frankest admission by any Assembly minister that health cuts may be pending.
He also tried to reassure his heartland supporters that Plaid Cymru would not accept any cuts in S4C’s budget. Again a bit like winking in the dark at a member of the opposite sex, well meaning but completely ineffective. The budget rests with an English department of State and apart from protesting there is not a great deal more that they can do about it if Jeremy Hunt decides to cut back in this area.
Despite predicting major cuts he did not specify exactly what would go.
But he was able to point out that Plaid Cymru were winning the arguments.
All parties were now in favour of a full law making body for Wales and only they, Plaid Cymru, had insisted on having an early referendum to enact such a body. They also pointed out that their campaign for fair funding for Wales, a case that they had been pushing for years, had now got the backing of the independent Holtham Commission and belatedly the backing of all the other parties in the Assembly.
He was also able to parade that convert to the nationalist cause, Ron Davies the former Labour Secretary of State for Wales and the ‘architect of devolution.’ he even cracked a joke about the length of the ovation given to Ron Davies. It was noticeable that the poker faced Mr Davies was sitting within knife striking distance of Plaid’s leader.
Mr Jones closed on a high with a Kinnockesque flourish that there were “8 months to make the case for our vision of a better Wales. 34 weeks or so to tell the people of Wales that they can rely on us to protect them against the worst effects of Tory cuts. 240 days for our excellent candidates to visit homes the length and breadth of Wales to explain that if we want a decent hospital, good schools, to protect our fragile environment, good training.” So be warned there may be a knock on year door in the very near future.