Elin Jones: We are not a protest group. We are a modern party

Related Topics

Change for the three London-based parties since 1997 has been largely superficial. It has meant little more than picking up a Welsh flag and draping themselves in it, if the occasion and the audience suited.

Using a flag to fool the electorate is something Labour seem to do often. Gordon Brown's attempts to hide the fact that he's Scottish by waving the Union Jack has back-fired on all counts. The Scottish think he's betraying his roots and Middle England still know he's Scottish. The electorate are not fools and cannot be fooled – the crocodile tears of Brown, Cameron and Clegg cannot fool us into thinking that these leaders care at all for Wales.

Change for Plaid Cymru, however, over the last 10 years has been more fundamental, more profound and will be longer-lasting. We'd already been clothing ourselves in the Welsh flag – we look pretty good in it – and we don't wear it just as a fashion statement. In fact we were way ahead of fashion – 70 years ahead of fashion. We still wear it and we'll continue to, even when it goes out of fashion for others.

How has Plaid Cymru changed over the last 10 years? Well for a start, there are more of us. More elected members. With representation, comes responsibility.

As elected members, we have the responsibility of working on behalf of all our electors. We can't just indulge ourselves in fighting for our favourite causes and against our petty dislikes. We represent the people who want their neighbours' hedge cut down, and the people who want Welsh independence. We represent the soldier serving in Afghanistan and the peace campaigner in Penparcau. We are not a protest movement, or a one-issue group – we are a modern, 21st century political party.

Being in government has changed us. Being the leading opposition to Labour in Wales changed us. This didn't start last year – it started when we took leadership of three large councils in Wales. Our actions in those councils changed people's everyday services and lives. We began to learn the discipline of government then. People now see us as responsible enough to trust with running their education, social services and transport services. It may have ultimately been a small step for the Welsh electorate to entrust us with government, but it was a giant leap for us in Plaid Cymru.

Of course, such giant leaps do not come without pangs of anguish. Being in government and even being government in waiting brings with it the need to compromise. However, it does not mean we compromise on principles. It may mean that we have to compromise on the practicality, timing and affordability of delivery of policy. We may not be able to do it now, we may not be able to do as much of it – but we still intend to do it.

Taken from a speech at Plaid Cymru's annual conference this week by the party's rural affairs minister

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

British economy: Government hails the latest GDP figures, but there is still room for skepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears