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Conference Speech 2015 – The Age of Home Rule

(Bilingual)

Gyfeillion, mae’n fraint cael y cyfle i’ch annerch yng Nghynadledd Wanwyn y Blaid yma yng Nghaernarfon. Mewn ychydig o wythnosau fe fydd pobl yn pleidlesio yn etholiadau San Steffan.

Mae hyn yn golygu fy mod wedi bod yn Aelod Seneddol am bum mlynedd. Hoffwn gymryd y cyfle hwn i ddiolch o waelod calon i drigolion Dwyrain Caerfyrddin a Dinefwr am y cyfle i wasanaethu fy nghymunedau cartrefol. Nid oes braint uwch yn fy meddwl i, ac rwy’n parhau i deimlo’r wefr yn fy nghalon pob bore.

Rwyf yn fwy argyhoeddedig nag erioed wedi pum mlynedd yn San Steffan mai tynged naturiol Cymru fel cenedl yw statws o wir hunanlywodraeth llawn. Y gwirionedd, gyfeillion, yw nad yw anghenion Cymru ar yr agenda yn San Steffan. Mae’r pleidiau unoliaethol yn wyneb ymchwydd yr Alban bellach yn hoffi son am bartneriaeth o gydraddoldeb ymysg cenhedloedd y Wladwriaeth Brydeinig. Ond geiriau gwag yn unig yw rhain.

Rwy’n edrych ymlaen yn eiddgar i’r etholiad er mwyn herio’r pleidiau unoliaethol ar record San Steffan yn rheoli Cymru. Bydd rhaid iddynt amddiffyn pam taw Gorllewin Cymru a’r Cymoedd yw rhanbarth tlotaf Gogledd Ewrop; pam bod 30% o gartrefi Cymru yn byw mewn tlodi tanwydd tra bod ein cenedl yn cynhyrchu mwy o drydan nag sydd angen; pam bod buddsoddiad mewn is-adeiladedd yn cael ei ganoli yn Llundain; pam bod ein cymunedau yn wynebu dros ddegawd o lymder sy’n gweld ein gwasanaethau cyhoeddus yn cael eu tanseilio; a pham bod pobl Cymru yn talu am gamymddygiad bancwyr Llundain?

Conference 2015

Gyfeillion, mae’r senedd bresennol wedi gweithredu yng nghysgod chwalfa ariannol enfawr 2008. Roeddwn yn disgwyl gweld gwedd newid yn y berthynas rhwng elit gwleidyddol San Steffan a’r elit economaidd yn ninas Llundain wedi’r llanast, ond y gwirionedd yw mai busnes fel arfer yw’r drefn.

Un o gamau cyntaf George Osborne fel Canghellor oedd lleihau y dreth ar y sawl sydd yn ennill dros dair mil o bunnoedd yr wythnos. Ymateb y Blaid Lafur oedd ymatal yn ystod y bleidlais.

Dewis y Ceidwadwyr oedd anelu’r fwyell tuag at y system budd-daliadau. Ymatal oedd dewis y blaid Lafur unwaith eto, a dim syndod gan mai gorffen gwaith Tony Blair a Gordon Brown oedd y Toriaid. Mae rhai o’r cymunedau yr wyf yn eu gwasanaethu wedi colli – ar gyfartaledd – mil o bunnoedd am bob ty, a’r newid sydd wedi cosbi fwyaf yw’r toriad Llafur i fudd-dal analluogrwydd.

Pob tro mae Plaid Cymru wedi cynnal pleidleisiau yn erbyn gwario can biliwn ar system arfau niwclear newydd yn Nhy’r Cyffredin, mae’r blaid Lafur wedi pleidleisio gyda’r Ceidwadwyr.

Tra bod y Ceidwadwyr yn hyrwyddo preifateiddio gwasanaethau cyhoeddus, ymateb Llafur yw dweud fod eu preifateiddio nhw yn wahanol!

Y gwirionedd, gyfeillion, yw nad oes mymryn o wahaniaeth rhwng pleidiau Llundain, a’r rhai sy’n eu cynrhychioli nhw yma yng Nghymru. Un blaid fawr ydynt yn gwasanaethu’r un bwystfil – San Steffan.

Yr unig fodd o achub ein cymunedau yw i fynnu mwy o bwerau i’n systemau democrataidd cenedlaethol yma yng Nghymru. Dyna beth yw’r dewis amgen yn yr etholiad hwn, a Phlaid Cymru yw’r unig blaid sydd wir yn credu mai’r Cynulliad Cenedlaethol ddylai benderfynu polisiau sy’n effeithio ar bobl Cymru.

Gyfeillion, mae pobl yr Alban yn dangos y ffordd ymlaen. Pan mae’r SNP yn gryf, mae’r Alban yn gryf. Os yw pobl Cymru am i’n gwlad gael statws cryfach yn y Senedd nesaf, yr unig ateb yw ethol tim cryf o wleidyddion Plaid Cymru.

Friends, we are living in interesting political times. The Labour-Tory duopoly which has dominated UK politics for the best part of a century is coming to an end. Polls indicate the Labour-Tory double act is facing its lowest combined support in nearly a century – at only 60%.

Their position of power within Westminster will only be preserved by the rotten First Past the Post system which can’t serve the multi party reality of modern politics. Whatever the result in May, the new Parliament will face a crisis of democratic legitimacy.

Westminster is a broken system on many fronts. The collapse in support for Labour and the Tories is a clear indication of this. What has struck me most during my time as an M.P. is how closely they work together. Their policy platform is nearly identical, and when it comes to any truly meaningful reform, it is always the two parties working together to conspire against it.

I give you just one example from last year. Following the expenses scandal there was strong public support for a recall system that would allow electors to boot out misbehaving MPs. I served on a rebel committee which produced a bill that would have genuinely empowered electors. Instead, the Coalition government and the Labour so-called Opposition conspired together to pass through a bill which means a Westminster committee made up of Labour and Tory MPs will decide whether or not an MP should face a vote of confidence from their constituents.

Self-interest seeps from every pore in Westminster. It amazes me how brazenly open Labour and Tory MPs are about their political motives in private.

Conference, when the Chancellor announced his austerity Emergency Budget in 2010 he outlined two objectives: To eliminate the deficit by this year, and the preservation of the Triple A credit rating. On both counts the Westminster Government has failed miserably. As Plaid Cymru warned, reducing public expenditure too quickly undermined Treasury revenues. A government budget is not the same as a household budget. It is far too simplistic to expect a reduction in expenditure to stabilise government finances.

Labour, under tragically weak leadership, has failed to exploit the Treasury’s failures. First they voted to support Tory spending plans for 2015-16, then Labour MPs marched through the voting lobbies to support the Tory austerity charter for the next parliament.

I have pledged to the people of Carmarthen East and Dinefwr that if I am returned as their MP I will not support an austerity budget irrespective of whether it is the Blue Tories or the Red Tories that introduce it.

I’m proud that my campaign will be funded entirely from small donations from the people of Carmarthen East and Dinefwr whilst my Labour opponents campaign will be funded by the blood money of a disgraced former Prime Minister who has made his millions in doing the bidding of global banks, multinational energy companies and dodgy dictators the world over.

Before the Autumn Statement it was Plaid Cymru that revealed how the Tories were proposing to reduce spending on public services to only 35% of GDP, a level not seen since the 1930s. Those of you at our 2010 Spring Conference will remember that I used my speech on that occasion to accuse the Tories of an ideological obsession to reduce the role of the public sector should they win that election. Labour are in on that too and their plans would reduce public spending to a level lower than anything witnessed under Thatcher.

Plaid Cymru rejects Westminster austerity. We will work with colleagues who also reject the consensus of the Westminster elite and form an anti-austerity bloc with our friends in the progressive alliance.

Let me spell out in a bit more detail what exactly we mean by rejecting Labour–Tory austerity.
We have never supported the Labour and Tory approach to fixed-term fiscal targets. Fiscal policy above all should be based on delivering long-term economic growth and social good. For some reason, in the last days of the Gordon Brown government the Labour party decided to change the priority to appease the high priests of austerity when they introduced a Fiscal Responsibility Bill.

This set in stone the over-riding aim of fiscal policy henceforth – budget deficit targets. It played into the hands of the Tories, and ever since attention has concentrated on slashing budgets to meet arbitrary targets.

The global economy is a highly volatile beast at the best of times, and recent history shows us that shocks can occur unexpectedly, hitting exports and hence revenues. Economic volatility is one clear reason why arbitrary targets and a fixed-term approach to fiscal policy is not a wise path to tread.

Anyone opposed to austerity cannot possibly support such an irrational approach to fiscal policy – which therefore rules out the Labour party!

Secondly, in trying to reverse the damaging cycle of austerity where low paid work results in lower revenues, Plaid Cymru will deliver growth and jobs by increasing infrastructure investment by 1% of GDP each year. This will result in 19 billion pounds extra for the UK to invest in job creation projects, and Wales’ share will be almost a billion. I have said 10 per cent of this sum should be spent on improving energy efficiency in homes, creating green jobs, reducing carbon emissions, as well as reducing winter pressures on our health system.

Our approach would be flexible and we would support greater fiscal stimulus if the economy requires it.

Thirdly, we will never support Labour-Tory measures to balance the books on the backs of the poor.
We have outlined several measures which would lead to the broadest shoulders paying their fair share.

We will lift the upper earnings limit on national insurance contributions to raise £10bn per annum.

We will scrap tax relief on pension contributions for those paying the higher rate of income tax, saving £10bn every year.

We will work with other to introduce a Robin Hood tax on bankers’ trading transactions raising 20 billion pounds per annum.

We will scrap Trident renewal saving over 100 billion pounds over the lifetime of the project.

Lastly friends, anti-austerity for Plaid Cymru means ensuring that Welsh public services are funded properly.. In a last gasp attempt to save the Union, the Westminster parties pledged to set in stone Barnett funding for Scotland. If Wales had the same funding per head it would mean an extra one point two billion each year for our public services.

It is insulting to the people of Wales that the Westminster parties support such an unjust funding situation. We have the despicable sight of unionist politicians based in Wales – including the First Minister – supporting public spending in Scotland at its current level whilst opposing the equivalent for Wales.

Plaid Cymru will never allow Westminster to treat our country like a second class nation. This is not just anti austerity – it’s a matter of basic fairness.

Gyfeillion, Westminster has never worked for Wales. Changing the colour of the ruling tribe will achieve little. The only real alternative is to strengthen and empower our own national democratic institutions.

In May, people have a once in a lifetime opportunity to break the Westminster consensus that has proven so damaging to our country. The people of Scotland are showing the way. In supporting their national party, Westminster is being forced to take notice and that is why they are on the verge of home rule.

When the SNP is strong, Scotland is strong. The message cannot be any clearer. If you want a stronger and fairer Wales in the next Parliament – put your faith in your national party.

Conference, this year, our national party marks its 90th year.

90 years ago a group of people from all corners of Wales (and even further afield) met not far from here, and they shared a vision.

They met in the shadow of a devastating war – much as we do today.

They met in turbulent social and economic times – much as we do today.

From north and south, east and west, Welsh-speaking and non-Welsh speaking they met to form a party that would lead a nation – much as we do today.

Ninety years on, their endeavours are evident – their efforts secured our nationhood.

Today, our endeavours must match those of our visionary forbearers.

Let our endeavours lead to this election being the first Westminster election where the balance of power is in hands of Wales.

Friends, we are now entering a new age. It is time for us to deliver the next political step for our nation – true home rule for Wales.

Diolch yn fawr