Adam Price outlines what role Plaid Cymru will play as the Opposition in this assembly.
Last Monday we, Plaid Cymru, published our Programme for Opposition; a comprehensive programme which we will seek to implement over the coming Assembly term. Outlining key priorities, associated goals, and capital projects from across policy areas, our Programme for Opposition presents a policy package that we would markedly change Wales for the better.
The electorate did not give any party the mandate on 5th May to press ahead unhindered with the implementation of their manifesto, or to govern without seeking areas of common ground with opposition parties. It is an important lesson that the minority Labour Welsh Government must learn – it did not win a mandate to govern as usual in May’s Welsh election.
Since the election we, Plaid Cymru, as the largest opposition party in the Assembly, have made our presence felt in the role of official opposition to the Welsh Government. We have a duty to the people of Wales to provide effective opposition to the government: a responsibility to provide robust scrutiny of its actions, to challenge it to do better, and to hold it to account when it fails.
The minority Labour Government should expect a far more robust opposition from Plaid Cymru than that which they received from the Conservatives during the last Assembly term. For the first time, the Labour-led government will be held to account and forced to act for the whole of Wales by a party with a detailed alternative programme.
This is not opposition for opposition’s sake. Instead, Plaid Cymru will provide opposition that delivers tangible improvement to the lives of the people of Wales: opposition that secures Wales’s interests for the immediate term, and puts the foundations in place for a more prosperous future. In other words, Plaid Cymru will serve the people of Wales responsibly, offering real opposition for a purpose.
So, when appropriate, we will contribute constructively to the legislative and budgetary processes, making the most of every opportunity that arises to forge a better future for the people of Wales. Indeed, we have already secured some policies that will improve people’s lives in the ‘Compact to Move Wales Forward’.
In this one-vote agreement with the Welsh Government, Plaid Cymru gained more for the people of Wales than the previous Conservative opposition did over an entire Assembly term. Commitments included a review of the Independent Patient Funding Request system which will help sufferers of cancer and other illnesses have more equal access to rare drugs and treatments, as well as more free childcare and the establishment of a National Infrastructure Commission for Wales. These are commitments that will deliver tangible benefits to people’s lives.
Plaid Cymru has a crucial role to play, the importance of which we fully appreciate. That is why we have published our Programme for Opposition, so that the people of Wales can be clear on how we intend to deliver for them over the course of the next Assembly term.
Of course the content is not final. This is a live document that will be updated to respond to the constantly changing circumstances and to capitalise on new opportunities as they arise: it would be irresponsible of us to not consider adapting in the face of significant change.
Our Programme is a challenge to Labour’s Programme for Government, when that is finally published. At a time when uncertainty clouds the horizon, Wales needs brave leadership and a clear vision more than ever. We, as Plaid Cymru, have demonstrated in our Programme for Opposition that we are ready to meet the challenge; it is now for the Labour Government to prove it is worthy of the name.