[DELIVERED AT THE GREEN PARTY OF ENGLAND AND WALES’ AUTUMN CONFERENCE, BIRMINGHAM, 2 Sep 2016]
Prynhawn da gynhadledd! Good afternoon conference! It’s great to see you all here today. Mae’n dda eich weld chi i gyd yma heddiw.
Now, general advice is that you start a conference speech on a high – with a strong, passionate and stirring opener, but, in this case, I’m afraid I’m going to break those rules.
Mae hi wedi bod yn amser rhyfeddol o gyffrous ers ein cynhadledd ddiwethaf. Ac, er gwaetha’r arferiad o ddechrau darlith gyda datganiad cryf a phositif, rydw i am ddechrau trwy sôn rhywfaint am sut rydw i’n teimlo. Oherwydd, er bod ni wedi cael profiadau da, mae ‘na resymau hefyd dros deimlo’n siomedig, yn ddig, ac yn drist.
I am going to start by saying a little about how the events in the last few months have made me feel. Because, whilst there have been heady highs, there have also been stomach-crunching lows.
First and foremost, despite running the strongest campaign we have ever run in the Assembly election. Despite the hard work, determination and passion of our members and supporters across Wales, we came no closer to Green representation in the Welsh Assembly. A disappointing result to say the least.
And then, to add insult to injury for every single one of us who care for the environment, UKIP, having gained seven seats in the Assembly – a party that denies the very existence of human-made climate change – were awarded the chair of the Committee of Climate Change, Rural Affairs and the Environment in the Welsh Assembly. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so reckless.
On top of this, I am angry. Angry that over the last six months we had a national ‘debate’ on the EU, characterised by misinformation, half-truths and distractions; a vote to renew Trident that was tabled purely for party political gain; and that politics since the EU referendum has been dominated by in-fighting and internal political point in the UK, and in Wales. We deserve better. A real, democratic process requires better.
I feel hurt by the hatred, racism and xenophobia that dominated the EU referendum campaign, and that a majority vote to leave the EU, appears to have legitimised this prejudice.
And I am saddened that now so many thousands of people in the UK – people in our communities – our friends, our families and our neighbours – not just EU nationals, but people of colour and ethnic minorities, feel so unwelcome, and live with uncertainty about their futures.
And, finally – I am, like everyone across the UK, absolutely gutted that Wales lost out on winning the European Championship.
Gallwn deimlo ein bod wedi ein trechu wrth edrych yn ôl dros y misoedd diwethaf. Mae ‘na deimlad fod cymaint i ymladd drosto ar ben rhestr o broblemau a oedd yn barod yn rhy hir.
Ond mae ‘na hefyd resymau dros deimlo’n falch, yn llawn gobaith, a hyd yn oed yn hapus.
It can feel completely overwhelming looking back over these last few months. There is so much to fight for, so many new challenges in front of us.
But, without sounding like I am fabricating a sliver of a silver lining out of a dark – and perhaps typically Welsh – rain-filled cloud, I do have cause for hope; for optimism; for happiness.
First of all, I count it as a great privilege that the Assembly election allowed me to get to know the vast majority of our local parties and activists in a very short time – not just committed campaigners, but new friends, a family. Thank you all. Each and every single one of you is wonderful.
And, there were many highlights in the Welsh Assembly campaign. By entering into informal talks on the potential formation of a progressive alliance, the Wales Green Party laid the groundwork for potential future alliances, and paved the way for people to start thinking about a different form of politics. We campaigned to be included on the leaders’ debates and won, and we were voted top on social media on both BBC and ITV leaders’ debates. Most importantly, however, we are now in an excellent position off the back of the Welsh Assembly campaign for the local elections of 2017, with strong, passionate, committed – and now much more experienced, activists across Wales.
The morning of the Welsh Assembly election results, as I walked out of the count tired, demotivated, and downhearted, a member turned to me and said “Right then. Onto the council elections next year is it?” That really characterised to me the strength and determination I see every day in our party.
Since then, a Labour councillor defected to the Wales Green Party – good news for those in his ward in Bangor, and personally for me an uplifting moment after a tough time. In preparation for the announcement, I asked him why he defected to the Wales Green Party, and without a pause he threw back at me the very reasons I am part of this party: the positivity of our vision for the future; the fact that we put people first, not political point-scoring; and, finally, that our values are consistent throughout our party – that we are united.
And I do believe that we have to see the opportunity presented in the EU referendum, despite the result. It has opened the debate about electoral reform and representation; about accountability and democracy; and importantly for Wales, about the position of the devolved nations within the UK, and the terms of our relationship with Westminster.
And it has brought to the fore a problem that we all know is not purely characterised by the crass headlines and campaigning of the EU referendum. Racism, xenophobia, and discrimination goes much deeper than words, and my hope is that we can now begin to expose and address the structural and hidden forms of inequality and discrimination in the UK, as well as the day-today. Not just in terms of race, but gender, disability, class, sex, age and sexuality.
Ac yn awr, symudwn ymlaen gyda’n gilydd. Heddiw fe ddechreuom ni bennod newydd yn llyfr y Blaid Werdd: arweinydd newydd; bwriad newydd; cyfeiriad newydd.
And so, we move forwards together. Today we open a new chapter in the book of the Green Party of England and Wales: new leadership; new purpose; new direction.
On behalf of the Wales Green Party, thank you to Natalie. Diolch. For always being available for help and advice; and the support you have given local parties and activists across England and Wales. It has been an absolute privilege working with you.
And congratulations to Caroline, Jonathan and Amelia!
Llongyfarchaidau i chi gyd!
Rydw i’n edrych ymlaen at weithio ar y cyd efo chi, ac i rannu’r daith y byddwn ni fel Plaid yn mynd arni. I ymgyrchu dros system etholiadol deg ac yn erbyn anffafriaeth; i sicrhau bod newid hinsawdd ddim yn disgyn oddi ar yr agenda, a bod y broses o adael Ewrop yn agored, yn gynhwysol, ac yn atebol.
I look forward to working alongside you all, to continue the vital work on electoral reform, making sure that every vote counts. On countering racism and xenophobia, and standing up for those marginalised by our current political, economic and social systems. On making sure climate change – still the biggest threat to our futures – is not taken off the agenda. We know that deleting DECC does not make that problem disappear. And to push for the process, and terms of Brexit to be inclusive, accountable, transparent and open – that we are all part of a proper debate that we as yet have not been given the opportunity to have.
Yng Nghymru yn awr, edrychwn ymlaen at yr etholiadau lleol y flwyddyn nesaf. Rydym yn bwriadu ymgyrchu gyda Balchder Gwyrdd Cymru ar ei ymgyrch dros rywedd nad yw’n ddeuaidd. Mi fyddwn yn cadw llygad ar y Pwyllgor Newid Hinsawdd, yr Amgylchedd a Materion Gwledig; ac mi fyddwn ni’n pwyso am bwerau teg, ariannu teg, a chynrychiolaeth deg i Gymru.
In the Wales Green Party, we now look towards the council elections next year. With strong, determined campaigners in local parties and excellent candidates who will make caring, compassionate and strong representatives of their wards. I look forwards to campaigning alongside Welsh Green Pride in their Non-Binary Exists campaign – to have non-binary gender properly recognised. We will keep a close eye on Mr Mark Reckless, making sure vital action isn’t stalled, that the Committee of Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs pushes Welsh Government to tackle our emissions and protect those already at risk. We will fight for fair powers, fair funding and fair representation in Wales.
Diolch i chi i gyd am eich cefnogaeth dros y misoedd diwethaf. Rydw i’n edrych ymlaen at weithio gyda chi gyd dros y misoedd a’r blynyddoedd i ddod: gyda’n gilydd, yn unedig.
I thank you all for your support and hard work thus far this year, and I look forward to working with you all over the coming months and years: together, united.
Diolch. Thank you.