Wales politics

Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood attacks Labour's 'top-down' socialism

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Media captionLeanne Wood said Plaid Cymru is offering an alternative to the status quo

Labour's "top-down" brand of socialism can not empower Wales, Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood has said.

The party leader made a bid to distinguish Plaid Cymru's left-leaning values from Labour's at a speech in Cardiff on Tuesday.

She said her party's brand of socialism was the "opposite" to the "undemocratic model" embraced by Labour.

Labour spokeswoman said the party welcomes contributions that seek to narrow the democratic deficit.

In a speech at the St David's Hotel in Cardiff Bay, Leanne Wood also said people should have a right to a decent standard of housing and be entitled to continue learning throughout their lives.

Ms Wood told activists that Labour's brand of socialism "won't empower people because it doesn't trust people".

"The decentralist socialism of Plaid Cymru is the opposite to the top-down, undemocratic model which has been embraced historically by British Labour," she said.

Outlining a vision for her own party, she said Plaid's socialism "should be a democratic exercise in stripping both political and economic power away from the multi-national corporations and the centralised state, bringing control back to the community through shared ownership and local democracy."

'Safeguards'

Ms Wood proposed "taking new and existing institutions away from where they are concentrated already, as Plaid Cymru has advocated for the new transport authority, football museum, national development bank, and other bodies".

She said her party would "legislate to ensure that legal safeguards were in place to fairly share public investment across the country, leaving no community behind," she said.

The party leader also outlined steps to reform the planning system, including "the creation of mixed zones for self-employment, where living and working spaces can be combined or co-located, to cut travel and other overhead costs for start-ups and self-employed people".

Ms Wood spoke ahead of a tour of Wales. "I want to speak with people who care about Welsh democracy... but who may be disconnected from Welsh politics or what happens in Cardiff Bay," she said.

A Welsh Labour spokeswoman said the party "welcomes any contributions which seek to narrow the democratic deficit in Wales, and widen participation in our national politics.

"But it is the Labour Party at Welsh and UK level that is leading the way in delivering votes for 16 year olds," she said, adding "our Welsh Labour Government Cabinet reflects our willingness to work creatively and engagingly across party lines in a way that best serves Welsh communities while respecting the democratic decisions the people of Wales have taken."

A Welsh Conservative spokesman attacked the choice of venue for the speech.

"That the self-proclaimed socialist Leanne Wood has chosen to launch her so-called radical agenda for change from a five-star Cardiff Bay hotel shows she is out of touch and severely lacking in judgment," he said.

Image caption Leanne Wood, pictured at the St David's Hotel, attacked Labour's 'centralising socialism'.

Analysis by Nick Servini, BBC Wales political editor

Leanne Wood has been the leader of Plaid Cymru for nearly six years - a period dominated by a succession of elections.

This was an attempt to sketch out some of her priorities without the pressure of a vote on the immediate horizon.

Attacks on the Conservatives are well-rehearsed, but this was the most sustained criticism yet from Leanne Wood of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, whose campaigning on social justice is problematic as it happens to be her bread and butter.

The buzzword of the day was decentralisation, her central claim is that the instincts of Labour and the Tories to pull power into Westminster and Cardiff allows Plaid to be the party of local decision-making.

Expect to hear as much about localism as nationalism with Leanne Wood at the helm of Plaid.

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