01/03/2012 Dragon's Eye


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Tonight a live debate between the Plaid Cymru leadership candidates.


Good evening. Happy St David's Day. The ballot papers have been sent to


party members, the result will be tphoubsed -- announced in two weeks.


Tonight the three remaining candidates in the leadership


election tphr the Studio to explain why they want the job. Before we


get into detailed discussion of their policies, let's hear a little


about and and from each of them. The order was decided in random, we


pulled their names out of a hessian weave bag for life. I am not sure


whether it was organic. Welcome all of you and thank you very much for


taking part in the programme this evening. We are going to watch a


short film about each of you, after which you will each get 30 seconds


to explain why you want the job and Dafydd Elis-Thomas, your name was


out first. A former presiding officer of the


Assembly, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas has a unique claim to fame, he is


the only person to have been an MP, a Lord and AM. He is also a leader


of the party previously. Now with a reputation as a sartorial country


gent he has also been voted the best-dressed politician in Wales.


Of the three candidates Lord Elis- Thomas has the fewest big name


supporters, without a single AM or MP endorsing his can tkasy, his


hope is that grass roots members like the cut of his jib, as well as


his suits. In 30 seconds then, explain why you think you should be


Plaid Cymru leader? Because I am supported by most of the leaders in


Welsh local Government, because they see that the next main test


for the party is that local Government election. Leadership is


about communication and it's about meeting up challenges and we are in


the most challenging time that Wales has ever been in, in economic


terms, environmental terms and in terms of the constitution, the C-


word which I enjoy using. Leanne Wood, your name was out of the bag


second. Growing up in the valleys she was a relative unknown outside


of Plaid circles, best known perhaps for being expelled from the


Assembly's chamber in 2004 when she called the Queen Mrs Windsor, and


refused to withdraw the remark. Elected to the Assembly for South


Wales central in 2003 she was previously a probation officer and


a councillor. Her campaign has the support of one of the party's most


prominent figures, the former MP Adam Price, who says she speaks


with a voice that reasonates across Wales. She will be hoping, first of


all to reasonate with her party's members.


So, Leanne Wood, in 30 seconds why you should be leader? I have said


Plaid Cymru should prioritise a plan to turn around our


disadvantaged economy, there should be a plan to build a social and


sustainable economy which ensures that everybody who can work is able


to work in a job. There are more detailed proposals found on the


website, Leanne Wood 2012.Com. Finally, Elin Jones. She was the


Rural Affairs Minister in the previous Labour Plaid Cymru


coalition Government. Raised on a farm and with a Masters degree in


rural economics she seemed well suited for the job. She's been the


AM for Ceredigion since 1999 and before that was a councillor in


Aberystwyth, welcoming -- becoming the town's youngest mayor. She


sings in the town choir and was a member of a folk group. It was


music to her ears when Simon Thomas decided to stand down and support


her. But does she strike a chord with the members? Well, Elin Jones,


finally, but last but not least we should say, in 30 seconds why


should you be leader? I want to see Plaid Cymru as a modern 21st


century political party that speaks to everybody in Wales, stands in


elections in order to form a Government, and has an ambition to


see Wales as a successful independent country. Our ambition


for Wales is radical but our politics has to be relevant to


everybody's everyday lives. I want to see Plaid Cymru put at the heart


of our work transforming the Welsh economy, that's why I have a vision


for our second industrial revolution in Wales that benefits


the people of Wales this time. will leave it there, thank you very


much. Let's talk in more detail about some of the issues that have


emerged during the campaign. We will begin with an issue that's


been hotly debated within this contest, independence. Today, an


opinion poll commissioned by BBC Wales suggests that only 7% of the


electorate supports full independence for Wales, although


that figure rises to 12% if Scotland votes in favour in its


forthcoming referendum. Well, Elin Jones, you have been insistent


during the the campaign that the independence issue should be one of


the issues right at the centre of the Plaid platform under your


leadership. Is that what you regard as the party's unique selling point,


as it were? Plaid Cymru's unique selling point is that it is


uniquely a Welsh party with an ambition to see Wales become a


successful independent country. The poll today was no great surprise to


me, what was hugely encouraging about the poll was that we saw that


people in Wales still want to see greater powers for the Assembly and


especially two thirds of the people of Wales now want to see the


Assembly have fiscal powers for the first time. I think ensuring that


we have in Wales an Assembly, and a Government that has a fiscal powers


as well as legislative pow certificates part of the building


of our nation that I want to see happen day after day. Along the


route ultimately to independence, a stepping stone f you like? Yes, of


course. A clear ambition is to see Wales become a successful


independent country. That's an ambition that you share, is that


the key USP for Plaid for you? I think it is time that Plaid Cymru


now puts independence at the forefront of our agenda. We have


met a number of our short-term objectives. We have got legislation


to protect the Welsh language. We passed a referendum this time last


year for full law-making powers in the Assembly and all parties are


united on the need for reforming the way that the Assembly is funded.


So, it is time now for us to put our long-term constitutional goal


right at the heart of what we do. I think we have got to build the


economic case, this is the thing that people are most most concerned


about, is how Wales it going to fare economically in the long-term,


what's happened with the economic crisis since 2008 has changed


politics and the way that we have to operate our politics and I think


that focusing on the economy to build a case for independence is


what Plaid Cymru needs to do next. You have been more sceptical of the


cause for independence, explain your position? The people of Wales


have, in my view, a right to self- determination, the idea belongs


with Dr Richard Price to begin with. The people of Wales are exercising


that right in every opinion poll and every election. I was delighted


with this opinion poll because here we are now, as has been said, with


people of Wales embracing what seems to be the logical conclusion


of what we have been doing over the last 12 years, building up a


National Assembly, ensuring that it had law-making powers, getting out


of the mess Ron Davies created for us originally and now we are able


to have proper legislative body, but also a body which potentially


can have fiscal powers. One thing is very important to me, that


decision will be taken in Wales t won't be taken by a silk commission


in Westminster. Elin Jones, does the opinion poll worry you at all?


7% in favour of full independence t suggests. If you are going to make


independence a big issue, a central issue for Plaid, under your


leadership, aren't you going to be banging a drum that very, very few


of the electorate are interested in hearing? Well, the opinion poll


didn't shock me in any way, there is a big challenge, a big piece of


work for Plaid Cymru and others to do to make the case that Wales can


become a successful independent country. Plaid Cymru hasn't been


making that case really for the past few years. You are confident


you can bring people along, that in time you can convince people of the


argument and get the support? course we are. Because we have seen


the support for greater powers for the Assembly, fiscal powers for the


Assembly for the first time. We have seen that support growing over


the past few years and today in this most recent poll two thirds of


people supporting a form of fiscal powers for the National Assembly,


that's a big change in Welsh opinion polling for the past - over


the past ten years. That wouldn't have happened if Plaid Cymru hadn't


been advocating greater fiscal powers or fiscal powers even for


the National Assembly. Plaid Cymru not alone in that, though, Leanne


Wood, and in the independence case the party very much alone in terms


of the political landscape of Wales. How confident are you that you


could raise interest in the independence issue above what is a


low figure at the moment and how do you intend to do it, if you win?


Well, Elin is right, we haven't put the case for an independent Wales


yet. That case is yet to be put. But there's no reason why Wales


couldn't be an independent nation. There's nothing inherently


different about people in Wales that couldn't make a success. Every


country in the world makes a success or otherwise of their


economy by raising taxes and then spending in public expenditure. Our


economy is weak. We need to make sure that we put more into the tax


pot and we need to have proposals and plans to do that and once our


books are nearer to balancing, we will be in a position to be able to


independent. There is no reason why we can't be. Is there a danger in


soft peddling on independence that you remove from Plaid Cymru the one


thing that makes it unique in Welsh politics, and that is that it is


the party of independence? If you think that's what Plaid is about


then you are talking to the wrong person. What else is it about?


all Welsh poll eubgs is about. -- politics is all about. We represent


everything that's positive in terms of Wales. I have been a committed


environmentalist, I have been particularly advocating throughout


the years that the United Kingdom withdraws itself from all those


international things that have created such disasters and lots of


all those issues. If that's the case why has the party failed to


achieve electoral success over the years? 2010 elections were very


disappointing. The party has achieved huge success. We have


helped create, not alone, but with our colleagues and other parties,


we have created Welsh devolution and I am proud of it and proud of


all the stuff that I did for that 12 years, determined that we should


have a proper system in Wales. Plaid itself equally to post-


devolution? This is the time when Plaid speaks from that platform and


moves on in the context of what is happening to the United Kingdom and


that's the bit that excites me. The United Kingdom is finished, the


United Kingdom has no future. The old imperial states of Europe have


had their day and it's about time they were put out to grass. But out


of that has to come devolution for England, and it's up to the


Scottish people what form they want. If Scotland decides to be an


independent country, they may not be able to play rugby, but they


might make a successful country, good luck to them. Elin Jones,


surely what people are interested in at the moment is the economy.


Independence is a side show. What people want to hear from the new


leader, whoever that may be, is how you are going to create jobs, isn't


it? I am interested in the economy. Wye say it's my top priority and it


should be everybody's top priority, including the First Minister in


Wales. Tell me what your plan is. Well, I want to see as


fundamentally reform the Welsh economy, build it around our


natural resources. We need to get the powers, the legislative powers,


planning powers to do that in terms of our natural resources and also


the fiscal powers to enable to us build our business sectors around


our natural resources for the next 50 years. We have an abundance


supply of renewable energy, of water in Wales, the key resources


for any economy for the next 50 years. We need to be able to plan


for our business and economic growth around those natural


resources. But we have to have a Government with a political will to


want to do that and that's what I would want Plaid Cymru to be.


you have given me there is a wish list for further devolution. Are


you saying to me that you cannot do anything to improve job prospects


for Welsh voters unless you get further devolution? No, what I said


there... What can you do here and now? What I said there, there are


two fundamental issues. One is the weakness of the Welsh economy and


how we plan for that over the next 20-30 years. We have seen UK


macroeconomic planning plan for the city of London over the last 30


years, that doesn't suit Wales and shouldn't be allowed to to continue.


That's why I make the point about powers for planning the economy T


needs to be Welsh-based economic planning. That makes a difference N


terms of the recession now, it is absolutely the imperative for both


Westminster governments and Labour Welsh Government to work together


to ensure that our young people are not facing a lifetime of


unemployment. We have 25% of our young people in unemployment. The


Tory-Lib Dem and Labour governments in power now need to do something


about that. You told me what what everyone else should do and what


you would do if you got further powers. I am still waiting for your


plan for the here and now. People want an opposition party that's


some suggestions for current problems. Fine, I will take up more


of your time and I plan for the here and now, for young people in


particular is that there needs to be a guarantee of a job or training


or education for everybody between 16 and 21. That can only happen if


both Westminster and Welsh governments work together on


putting together that guarantee for young people. They can't be allowed


to continue to bicker whilst young Leanne Wood, what is your plan?


need a new deal, like the New Deal in the United States in the


Depression of the 1930s, where people are employed to undertake


work that needs doing. There is plenty we could do to build


resilience to the problems that we have got in the future. Climate


change, peak oil. We could employ people in programmes retro fitting


homes, for example, to maximise home energy efficiency. If we


introduce measures to encourage people to come together and set up


co-operatives to do that work, you could encourage, through local


stimulation, job-creation at a very local level. That requires much


more public spending at a time when money is tight. It would require


investment, not necessarily public spending. Plaid Cymru put forward


plans in the last election to pull together different aspects of


finance, and it could be done through a series of loans, as


opposed to grants, necessarily. But what is important is that there is


a plan, some thought to planning over the very long term, not just


in election cycles of four years. We need a 20 year plan to turn


around the Welsh economy. And we have to recognise that we will only


do it ourselves. Nobody from outside is going to come and put a


factory in the middle of places where we need jobs. If we will only


turn around the Welsh economy if we are determined to do it ourselves.


Dafydd Elis-Thomas? I am totally committed to future investment in


the energy industry in Wales, all kinds of energy mix. We must move


to remove carbon from the grid, build up renewables, but we must


also have a nuclear. I am told by Kevin McCulloch of Horizon, that


there is �50 billion of potential investment in energy in Wales over


the next half-century, and he is the person that gives the advice to


the present business minister in the world government. York advocacy


of nuclear power contravenes the policy of your party. No, it does


not. When this was discussed in Plaid group and also in conference,


there was an understanding that those areas of Wales, like the one


I represent, a former nuclear decommissioning site, now an


enterprise zone, thanks to the minister, we are awaiting the


decision on the tender for the reactor. This is an opportunity to


transform. And it has been agreed historically in the party,


especially for those of us who represent the workforce, the energy


work force of Wales - and it is not just miners who beat -- who should


be supported by Plaid, as we have done historically. The energy


workers of the nuclear industry also deserve our support. Leanne


Wood, do you support it? Plaid Cymru has said we do not favour a


new nuclear power station in Wales. I have produced a plan for creating


jobs in the renewable energy sector to replace the jobs that would be


created by a new nuclear power station. Realistically, do you


think such a plan could create the kind of jobs that the construction


and operation of the nuclear plant could? Yes. And more. There is the


perfect place particularly for utilising the water around


hydropower and marine power. They will not be operational in five


years, maybe more. How long would it take to build a nuclear power


station? There are potential jobs, if we put serious effort into


creating them, in the renewable energy sector. There is no doubt


that the north-west of his country has serious unemployment problems.


-- of this country. There is a situation that needs addressing, no


doubt about it. But I would say there are too many dangers with


nuclear, too many unknowns. We do not know what to do with the waste.


I think we should not leave that for future generations. Elin Jones?


I do not support nuclear power because of the unsolved issues


around nuclear waste. There is clearly a difference of opinion in


Plaid Cymru. The difference of opinion on nuclear power also


exists in the Lib Dem party and the Labour Party in Wales, so it is not


unique to Plaid Cymru. I am a pragmatic politician. If the UK


Government and others decide that the plant is to be built, I want to


see agencies working in that area to ensure that the economic boost


from that development works for the people in that area, and that they


are able to access the employment opportunities from that. Because


Plaid Cymru would want to see that, naturally. Would you heave a sigh


of relief? You would get the money jobs on Anglesey that it would


provide without you having to, if you like, compromise or principles


on nuclear power. I would always want decisions on the future of


nuclear energy, all energy, to be taken by Volz politicians in Wales.


So it is a matter of regret to me that that decision, just as of a


wind farm and large renewable energy applications, are being


decided by Westminster politicians rather than by elected Welsh


politicians. Leanne Wood, you risk losing votes of members on Anglesey,


surely, with your position on this. It is difficult but you have to


have a national policy. You cannot decide policies about individual


constituencies, I think. You have to decide what is in the Welsh


national interest. Plaid Cymru members had decided over many, many


opportunities at conferences, that we can power Wales in future


without the need for a new nuclear power station and I support the


members in their view. Are you putting your political convenience,


Dafydd Elis-Thomas, above the interests of Wales? No, and I


regret that throughout the campaign Plaid policy has been


misrepresented. I spelt it out earlier and I will not waste time


spelling it out again. The party has supported the replacement of


existing reactors and existing sites at its most recent conference.


This is a new nuclear power station. It is not on the same site. Yes, it


is on the same site. It is considered a new station and Plaid


Cymru is clear that it is not in favour of it. Elin Jones, if you


had the choice, would you go for it? No, I am against a nuclear


power. You do not fear a backlash on Anglesey? I do not. If the


powers on the political decision rested with me I would have been


planning their and in north-west Wales to use the renewable resource


and develop it, long before we were in the situation we are in now. But


I am a pragmatic politician. We are in this situation. They will be a


decision by the UK Government and I want the people of North West Wales


to benefit from that if the decision is taken. But in a


different situation it would not have been the decision I would


wanted to take. Let's move on to talk about the kind of leader that


you would be of Plaid Cymru, if you are successful in a couple of weeks.


The outgoing leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, said at the weekend that it


was his view that the party should take the opportunity to get back


into government if the circumstances were right, at its


earliest possible chance. Do you agree? Yes, I hope to be back in


government in May in a number of local authorities. I meant at


Assembly level. Those are the same issues. If you are standing for


election, the point is to get elected and do things. I do not see


the difference between being in government for in Cardiff, or any


other areas of Wales I referred to, and being in government. What would


be the right circumstances for planned to return to coalition with


Labour in this Assembly term? think we have got it today. This


opinion poll seems a fine basses for collaboration. Why should we


wait for the Silk Commission, or anything that responds to the UK


government, for us to come to an understanding that we should move


forward on fiscal powers and we should make sure that we have got a


jurisdiction for Wales and the development of devolution as the


Welsh people clearly, and I don't put -- pretend this is a referendum,


and I do not particularly want another referendum - but in terms


of a mandate at an election, I would be happy to lead on those


issues so that we would be returning next time into the next


Assembly, the fifth Assembly, with fiscal powers. Leanne Wood, are you


as keen to get into another coalition with Labour before the


next election? Every political party wants to be in government.


You put forward a programme and you want to put it into operation. But


at the moment Plaid Cymru needs time to work out what our programme


is, and we should only enter into coalition when we can agree a


progressive programme which takes Wales on. Have we not had a


committee looking at that which reported a few weeks back to learn


the lessons of the previous Assembly elections? Once the new


leader have that on their desk? That work has been done. We need to


get serious demands from going into coalition. I am not clear what


Labour could actually deliver to progress Wales in the direction


that we want to going. I think we should take some time to think


about what our next short-term objectives should be and how we can


progress them by going into government. Elin Jones. Welsh


Labour would have to shift significantly from where it is at


the moment in its positioning in the Welsh government if it was


attractive to me as a Plaid Cymru leader. It would have to change


policy on hospital reconfiguration, be far more ambitious in its


demands for devolution of energy powers. Currently, Carwyn Jones


only believes that energy powers of 100 megawatts should be devolved to


Wales. That is not ambitious. And I would want Welsh Labour to be more


ambitious in what it wants to see as fiscal powers for the National


Assembly. So unless Carwyn Jones and Labour are willing to shift


considerably from their pretty tame position on a number of key issues


at the moment, I cannot see circumstances where Plaid Cymru


would form a coalition with Labour. Looking ahead beyond 2016, what


about a coalition, or some sort of deal with the Conservatives, Dafydd


Elis-Thomas? Would you be open to that in principle? No. Under the


current leadership of the Welsh Conservatives and their Unionist


song, they came out today in response to this opinion poll and


said they were the party of the Union. This is 19th century talk,


even 18th century. Edmund Burke is long dead. I believe in self-


determination. Under a different leader, would you be open to it?


they can find one. They have made their decision and the whole tone


of the Welsh Conservatives has moved far away from where they were,


even two years ago. That is their view. I think Dafydd is absolutely


right on this. The current Unionist diatribe


coming from the Conservatives and Andrew RT Davies in particular does


not chime at all with me as a potential leader. Again, under a


different leader? Who knows what that could bring. I am not in


principle against forming coalitions with any party if the


circumstances are right and the political programme delivers what


is of benefit to the people of Wales. I want to see Plaid Cymru


leading a Welsh government and Labour removed as the leading party


of government in Wales. Leanne Wood, you have ruled out, under your


leadership, a deal with the Conservatives. Could that be a


hostage to fortune in future? would like to recommend a party


rules out going into coalition with the Conservatives. I agree with the


points that have been made about the Conservative Party in Wales and


the current leadership. But there is also what is going on in London,


the cuts. In many parts of Wales, people genuinely fear the


Conservatives. And I feel that it acts as a barrier to some people to


voting for Plaid Cymru. I think we can expand hour appeal into areas,


into former industrial areas for example, where we have had some


success in past but not in a sustained way. I think by ruling


out a coalition with the Conservatives we can be very clear


with people and we can stop Labour running a negative campaign, as


they do every election, when they say, Plaid will go into coalition


with the Tories. Thank you very much for talking to us and we wish


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