Wales politics

Plaid Cymru claims voters 'taken for granted' by Labour

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Media captionLeanne Wood says Plaid can deliver the 'change Wales needs'

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has urged voters who felt "taken for granted" by Labour to switch to her party at May's assembly election.

She told her party's conference in Llanelli that after 17 years of Labour rule in Wales there was a mentality that "this is as good as it gets".

"Our people have been taken for granted far too long," she said.

Ms Wood said voters were now asking what they were getting in return for "a lifetime of loyalty to one party".

"I call on those people who are feeling this way to get behind Plaid Cymru this time," she said.

Plaid Cymru has used the conference to underline a series of campaign promises.

They include scrapping care home charges for the elderly, hiring an extra 1,000 extra medical staff, writing off debts for students who work in Wales after graduating, and setting up a new economic development agency.

'Cradle to grave'

Ms Wood - leading Plaid in an assembly election for the first time - told the BBC she would look at existing Welsh government policies to fund the new spending.

"There are a number of existing anti-poverty programmes that can be re-rationalised, and re-applied, and we see our education policies as part of the anti-poverty agenda," she told BBC Two's The Daily Politics.

In a personal passage of her speech, Ms Wood revealed some of the inspiration for the party's education promises lay in her own family's history.

"My grandmother never tired of telling me stories as a child about how hard life was for her generation growing up during the 1930s," she said.

"She was sent away to work in service in London at the age of 14, so that money could be sent back home.

"That generation endured great hardships and made great sacrifices.

"And, in return, they were promised that they would be cared for, from cradle to grave."

Analysis by Vaughan Roderick, BBC Welsh Affairs editor

The years since devolution have been ones of slow but steady decline for Plaid Cymru in terms of their assembly presence and the party's fortunes stand in stark contrast to the success enjoyed by the SNP in Scotland.

In the 2011 election, the party dropped from second to third place in terms of seats and votes won, repeating the experience of many other parties after a period as junior coalition partners.

With this year's election being held in the shadow of the EU referendum - and with UKIP polling strongly - Plaid Cymru would probably be satisfied with a modest upswing in its fortunes.

Claims the party could form a minority government with just 20 AMs are probably best seen as tactical rather than realistic.

The 2016 election though is a highly unpredictable one with a large number of variables.

Having ruled out a coalition deal with the Conservatives, the party may well find itself in the role of kingmaker after 5 May.

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