Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Poppies and Dragons.

Enjoyed the conference in Carmarthen at the weekend. The party really has got its act together after a couple of poor years and a lot of the background work over the last six months is coming to fruition. Our finances are on a very solid foundation we have a new campaigns unit and we have a new image unveiled for the first time.

I am a big fan of the new look although I must confess I was not expecting to like the design as much as I do. In fact I turned up to conference rather nervously wondering what we had let ourselves in for. Set on a dark background the image is quite stunning. Its warm and friendly and although it will take a little time to "bed down" will develop into a well loved symbol.

A number of people have asked why we have dropped the dragon. My take on it is that the dragon has now become the emblem for the Country. Twenty years ago there were far fewer dragons on display around Wales now they are everywhere. This is a reflection of the growing Welsh identity and the fact that we are moving in leaps and bounds towards becoming a "nation". I think its important that the symbols of that nation are not owned by any one party or group. The fact is that there are members and supporters of other parties who are just as "welsh" as anyone in Plaid. Why they would choose to support the unionist/british nationalist parties is beyond my comprehension but I don't question their Welsh identity and we need to ensure that we can all unite around the symbols of the broader community/nation.

The issue of the leadership roles has been an interesting one. I was a supporter of the move to split the role of President and Assembly leader. Howver its clear that the leader in the Assembly needs to be the overall leader with the President working with the local parties and members to develop the party on the ground. The most intersting aspect has been how the party has united behind Ieuan Wyn Jones in the last few months. He is seen as having handled the new situation in the assembly very well and has delivered some serious gains for Plaid. Previous opponents are happy to praise his strengths and offer help to resolve any weaknesses.

There is a clarity, sense of purpose and determination about the party that I have not seen before. Nobody has any illusion that the assembly elections will be anything other than a hard fight but we will go into them in a far better condition than we entered the last round of elections.

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