Plaid Cymru claims self-government is the way forward for Wales

The Welsh secessionist party has reiterated its intention to hold a referendum on independence in 2011 · Plaid Cymru, the second largest party in the Welsh Assembly, governs the country in coalition with the Labour Party.

The pace of devolution has been fast in the United Kingdom in recent years: less than a decade ago, Wales was without its own legislative body, but today one of its politicians is defending “the role of smaller countries on the European scene” before the Council of Europe. Addressing Plaid Cymru delegates last weekend, Elin Jones, Welsh Assembly Minister for Rural Affairs, said that “the rightful place for Wales is at the table in our own right, with our agriculture minister sitting between the agriculture ministers of Latvia and England”, the BBC reported.

Jones referred to the European Council meeting of agriculture ministers she attended recently. She had sat beside representatives from small nations, such as Malta, and from nations that have only recently become independent, such as Latvia, and this had confirmed her “faith in independence”, she said.

Unlike in Scotland, relations between the Welsh pro-independence party and Labour, which together hold 41 of the 60 Assembly seats, remain cordial. When the coalition was formed in June 2007, Plaid Cymru and Labour set up the All Wales Convention, which included plans to hold a referendum on the transfer of all legislative power to Cardiff. If the Welsh population voted in favour of greater autonomy, the Welsh Assembly would become a fully-fledged parliament.

Next month’s local elections will be a good indicator of the level of public support for the Plaid-Labour coalition programme. In an extensive interview with IcWales, Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, said he was convinced that voters would not punish them for being in government with Labour.

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