Dafydd Wigley, president of Plaid Cymru, yesterday warned that the Labour Party can expect a tough battle for control of the new Welsh Assembly.
"The time has come to take over from Labour and to prepare ourselves for the responsibility of governing Wales," he told his party's annual conference in Cardiff.
With support for Plaid Cymru standing at a record high of 24 per cent in the opinion polls, Mr Wigley claimed it was not an impossible task to become the largest party when the 60-seat assembly is elected next May.
The challenge, he said, was to turn Plaid Cymru into the new Wales party which "everyone in our country can identify with". Mr Wigley criticised the Government for creating an over-valued pound and undermining Welsh manufacturing, agriculture and tourism.
"The swing from Labour to Plaid Cymru reflects the dismay of the ordinary people of Wales towards the reactionary and damaging policies of the Tony Blair Government," he said.
In a message aimed at winning over voters in Labour's traditional heartland in the South Wales valleys, Mr Wigley claimed the track record of Labour councillors was nothing short of "civic disaster".
The Wales Labour Party would be unable to serve Wales in the assembly because it was still controlled by the party leadership in London, he said.
"Wales cannot afford to have its assembly run by those who were, at best, half-hearted about its existence.
"It must be determined primarily by the needs of Wales and by those who give their first allegiance to Wales," he said.
Although his party continue to press for a fully-fledged Parliament as in Scotland, Mr Wigley insisted that Plaid Cymru would be committed to making the assembly work in its present form.Reuse content