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UK Politics

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood attacks 'tired' Welsh Labour government ahead of conference

Ms Wood was speaking just days after a deal with the Liberal Democrats secured the minority Labour government's budget for the Welsh Assembly

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has attacked what she describes as a 'tired' Welsh Labour government that lacks 'ambition and strong leadership', ahead of her party's conference this weekend.

Ms Wood, who was elected leader of the party in March of last year, was speaking just days after a deal with the Liberal Democrats secured the minority Labour government's budget for the Welsh Assembly.

Although Plaid and the Liberal Democrats have agreed to abstain on the budget vote, allowing it to pass in the Assembly, Ms Wood expressed 'deep concerns' over a potential 9% cut over two years to the council budget, and said worries over the cuts to local government budgets were the reason the party would be abstaining - rather than voting for - the measures.

Speaking to The Independent, Ms Wood also levelled criticism at First Minister Carwyn Jones for "failing to command the respect of the Westminster government". She also attacked the government for not tackling what she described as "grave problems" in the education service, health service and economy.

Yesterday, Plaid Cyrmu and the Liberal Democrats were criticised by the Welsh Conservatives for their commitment to abstaining on the budget deal.

Opposition leader Andrew RT Davies said it was "up to them (the other two opposition parties) how they want to prop up this tired, clapped-out Labour government." One Conservative source reportedly told ITV Wales that the agreement was 'a bargain bucket deal with a Poundland government.'

Under the terms of the budget deal, ministers will devote £100m to opposition spending priorities in return for the parties abstaining.

Ms Wood, who described the mood before conference as 'upbeat' following election wins in both Ynys Mon and Caerphilly, also criticised the way the Welsh budget is allocated and said the Silk Commission recommendations, which call for the Welsh government to have tax and borrowing powers, to be implemented in full.

 She described the government as "impotent" when it comes to the question of its own budget.

"Part of the reason for wanting to see Silk implemented in full is to enable us to start to build that system and that structure so that we can develop economic resilience in the future. At the moment we're powerless to do anything," she said.

Plaid's two-day conference, which begins tomorrow in Aberystwyth, will see the party launch its slogan for the 2014 European elections: 'Wales First!'

The party is expected stress its belief that only by putting Wales first will a Welsh Government enable the nation to reach its full potential.

Yesterday's budget included a three year package of £570m for the NHS, including an additional £150m in this financial year. There was also a new 50m Intermediate Care Fund to help integrate health, social services and housing.

Welsh finance minister Jane Hutt said the plans were based on "principles of fairness and social justice".