Plaid go on the attack

Leanne Wood's attack on UKIP has generated many of the headlines today but her attack on Labour was arguably more significant.

Let me remind you about what she said: "Labour's poor performance threatens the very future of devolution."

I can't remember her going as far as that in criticising the Labour Welsh government.

Senior members of Plaid tell me there are a number of things at play here.

The first relates to the poll which BBC Wales commissioned recently in which 23% of those questioned thought the assembly should be abolished.

Leanne Wood made the point in her speech that when people are unhappy with government ministers at a Westminster level they change the government rather than abolish the institution.

She believes people are unhappy with the record of the Welsh government, calling Carwyn Jones a first minister without a plan.

So what Plaid are trying to do is emphasise the difference between the Welsh government and the assembly as an institution, and in doing so severely criticise ministers, which of course is handy for them.

Scotland was mentioned in her speech but not hugely. I wonder if the upshot of what she had to say about the record of Labour ministers is that we end up with Welsh politics becoming more like Scotland in its viciousness.

Leanne Wood struck a conciliatory tone when she became leader two years ago. That now seems long gone.

Labour's record on running public services in Wales has come under the spotlight like never before, particularly at a Westminster level.

The problem for Plaid is that it plays out as a Labour Conservative row in the run up to the general election which will leave the party marginalised.

I don't suppose we should be surprised by the political nature of the speech, as opposed to being policy-led which was the case at the party conference in Aberystwyth in the autumn.

We are entering an electoral cycle and Plaid need to get Jill Evans re-elected in May. It will be tight. Plaid say they've done the maths and if they can get all of their vote out it will happen but they need all of their constituencies to play their part or there'll be two Labour MEPs, a Conservative and a UKIP MEP, rather than one of each as we have now.

Plaid have had a member of the European Parliament since 1999. It is hugely important for the party to keep it that way.

A final word: there was mention today by Plaid of creating a private-sector led body which will advise on the investment of EU funds, as well as raise private finance for infrastructure projects in Wales.

We should get more on this from the party's economy spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth tomorrow and learn whether it can realistically make a difference to what Leanne Wood said is a "spreadsheet" economic recovery. In other words, a recovery not based upon reality.