Wales politics

Leanne Wood: Voting Plaid 'only way to take control'

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Media captionDon't let Wales be ignored - Leanne Wood's message to voters

Voting for Plaid Cymru is the only way for people in Wales to "be in control" of their lives, Leanne Wood has said.

The party leader told Plaid's Spring conference in Newport that Wales does not have to "accept second best".

She told delegates the priority for the Welsh economy is single market participation post-Brexit.

Ms Wood praised the role migrants play in Wales, saying her party would never join in with calls "from those who make you feel you don't deserve to be here".

Reiterating Plaid's opposition to a so-called 'hard Brexit', she said: "There can be no greater priority for our party right now than upholding the Welsh national interest during the months ahead as the UK government begins the process of leaving the European Union."

Defending Plaid's policy of offering some support to the Labour Welsh Government, she said people would be "hard pressed to find any progress in Cardiff Bay that isn't down to Plaid Cymru".

She criticised both the UK and Welsh governments, saying that under them "wealth and opportunity is being redistributed the wrong way".

Ms Wood told delegates they were more likely to be treated by a migrant in the Welsh NHS than to see one in the queue and received strong applause when she said: "If you live here and you want to be Welsh then as far as we are concerned you are Welsh and your rights will be defended by the Party of Wales."

Ms Wood used her conference speech to accuse Labour Welsh Government ministers of concentrating on the economy in Cardiff at the expense of the rest of the Wales.

Plaid Cymru is on a "mission to rebalance Wales", she said.

In her speech, Ms Wood accused Labour of repeating the mistakes of UK ministers by concentrating on the capital city and neglecting the rest of the county.

She said Plaid Cymru would ensure "every part of Wales gets the chance to succeed".

'Dog mess'

Ahead of Friday's speech Ms Wood claimed that voters are more likely to want to talk about cleaning up dog mess than Brexit before May's local elections.

Ms Wood won Rhondda from Labour at the May 2016 assembly election, a constituency which voted Leave in the EU referendum the following month.

Speaking to BBC Wales at her office in Cardiff Bay before the conference, she said: "Most people on the doorstep, they are not talking about Brexit, they are not talking about what goes on here, or really what goes on in Westminster.

"It comes up a bit, but you can have conversations with people that go to the local issues - and people then might disagree with me on something I've said on Brexit, but then they will still say 'I'll vote Plaid because you've done this locally for us'.

"So, if it comes up it's not stopping people - even if they are against what I've said - stopping them from voting Plaid.

"I'm not concerned that's going to be a major issue in the elections or any other of the big things we are all concerned about.

"Most people talk about dog poo."

Her party struck a deal with Labour in the assembly, rather than go into coalition.

That allowed Carwyn Jones to return as first minister, in exchange for including Plaid in preparing policies and budgets.

But Ms Wood said where Plaid has a strong grassroots campaign, they hoped to pick up votes from Labour.

'Impossible'

During the first morning of the conference, party health spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth said Labour was managing Wales rather than offering the "vision and leadership" needed.

He said: "There is excellence in the NHS in Wales, devoted, skilled staff, second to none, but they're being asked more and more - through lack of government support - to do the impossible."

He said Plaid had plans to train and recruit more doctors and put in place "ambitious" targets for cancer diagnosis.

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