OPINION: Sticking to Senedd shows that we have our own unique identity, history and future

Yesterday, thirty writers, actors and other well-known figures in Wales signed a powerful open letter calling for the renaming of the National Assembly as ‘Senedd’, Welsh for ‘parliament’. They include actor Michael Sheen, Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens, Cerys Matthews and rugby referee legend Nigel Owens.

Today Plaid Cymru will joined them on the steps of the Assembly as we urge our fellow AMs to embrace this move as a sign of a united and confident new Wales.

It’s part of a rebranding that’s already underway to emphasise that this is now a fully-fledged parliament, a world away from the under-powered Assembly established in 1999. But let’s use that rebranding, not to opt for the unimaginative ‘Welsh Parliament’, or even a bilingual version, ‘Welsh parliament – Senedd Cymru’, but rather to make a statement through an original, indigenous and unique Welsh name that would be a powerful message about the kind of democracy we want.

Devolution and the growth of Welsh democracy mustn’t be about emulating or borrowing the concept of democracy from elsewhere, including that other place that sometimes calls itself the mother of all Parliaments. We’re saying we’re doing something differently in Wales.

Senedd comes from the same root as Senate. It crystallises our history in many ways – an assimilation of our history and our Celtic and Romanitas traditions coming together in one word. It’s the same word in old Cornish, ‘senedh’, and in Breton, ‘senezh’, and also the upper house in the Republic of Ireland, the Seanad. And Owain Glyndŵr’s Parliament was a ‘senedd’ too, of course.

That Roman Senedd, Senatus Romanus, met in a half-circle, as we do, rather than the other tradition that we have seen in Westminster—which, unfortunately, has been at its very worst over the past weeks and months, where confrontation is all.

Brand

But having a unique name that is based on our history doesn’t just say that we have our own tradition. It also says that we have our own future. We can create our own unique democracy.

When new democracies are formed, the naming of things, symbols, are important, because they say something about what you’re trying to create. This is normal across the world. Think of the Dáil, the Knesset and the Duma, for example.

We don’t simply want to recreate the parliamentary tradition that has existed elsewhere; we want to create a Parliament that is fit for us, that belongs to us, that is part of our history and our tradition, yes, but also says something about a different kind of democracy that could be made here in Wales.

‘Senedd’ is a unique name and it adds to our identity. It gives this institution our international reputation and adds to our brand as a country. There would be no other ‘Senedd’ in the whole world.

Let’s use that fact to confirm our status as a nation with its own language and culture, and a unique name for its legislature.

Some words transcend language barriers. The Welsh language, needless to say, belongs to us all, but there are some words, in particular, that in practical and usage terms genuinely belong to us all.

There are words that slip easily from one linguistic context to another, and ‘senedd’ is one of those words—a word that is of Wales, a word rooted in the Welsh language, that is bilingual in its application.

What better application for such an inclusive word than as the official name of our national democratic and representative institution?

Welsh is a language for all, and the Welsh language peppers conversations from Gwent to Wrexham, from Môn to Monmouthshire—’cwtsh’, ‘tadcu’, ‘hiraeth’, ‘hwyl’, ‘eisteddfod’. Let’s have ‘Senedd’ as part of the everyday language of everybody in Wales.

Consensus

The argument that you either speak Welsh or you speak English, and therefore you need a Welsh name for Welsh speakers and an English name for English speakers is wrong. Let’s not put people into inflexible linguistic categories.

Rather, what we have is a linguistic continuum, as the Government’s proposals for Welsh in the new education curriculum demonstrates.

In tabling the amendment this week (for the second time), to take the ‘Senedd’ proposal to a vote, I was determined to take a consensual approach. This is way beyond party politics. I’m delighted that a number of Labour members have already signed up to support it. Now it’s up to the Labour Welsh Government to come on board. It holds the balance in this decision.

A building of cross-party consensus on the matter means members are likely to be called Aelod o’r Senedd, or Member of the Senedd in future. We already call the building iutself the Senedd. It’s a small but significant step to giving that official name to the institution itself.

Let’s be confident in ourselves, uniting the nation behind the name that belongs to everyone regardless of their language, reflecting both our heritage and the dawn of a new kind of democracy.

This is our Senedd, a unique name for a unique Parliament.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM wears it pink for Breast Cancer Now fundraiser

• Rhun ap Iorwerth AM dresses in pink at the Welsh Assembly to support Breast Cancer Now’s flagship fundraiser wear it pink
• Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pink helps fund vital breast cancer research and support

Rhun ap Iorwerth, AM for Ynys Môn added a dash of pink to their usual attire to support Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pink fundraiser, which takes place on Friday 18 October.

Since launching in 2002, wear it pink has raised over £33 million. Rhun ap Iorwerth is calling for their constituents to join him by signing up for wear it pink and helping to make possible life-saving breast cancer research and life changing support for those affected by the disease.

Tracey Williams, 58, from Newport is a mother of two living with incurable secondary breast cancer, and joined Mr ap Iorwerth at the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff.

Commenting on why she is supporting this year’s wear it pink day, Tracey said:

“The charity has supported me since I finished treatment for primary breast cancer in 2010, and they have continued to support and help me through my secondary breast cancer diagnosis. I couldn’t live my life as well as I do now without their on-going support and the information they provide.

“Wear it pink is a great way you can have fun and raise money for this vital charity, and help to support people like me who have been affected by breast cancer.”

Anyone can take part in wear it pink. Some people will choose to hold a cake sale, while others will opt to organise a raffle and some will arrange a pink fancy dress day at their school or workplace. No matter how people chose to wear it pink, all the money raised will help to fund vital breast cancer research and support.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM, said:

“Each year in Wales, around 2,877 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and over 577 women die of the disease. That’s why I’m encouraging my constituents to take part in Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pink day on Friday 18 October.

“The money raised by this wonderful event has such a huge impact, allowing Breast Cancer Now to fund vital research and support for those living with a diagnosis. I hope that everybody will wear it pink this October and support this very important cause.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, said:

“Breast cancer still affects so many of us, and our goal as a charity is that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and be supported to live well. The money raised from wear it pink is so crucial to this, helping us to fund vital breast cancer research and support for those affected by the disease.

“We hope that by wearing pink, Rhun ap Iorwerth will encourage more people to wear it pink in on 18 October and help us to continue to fund vital breast cancer research and support.”

Anyone can take part in wear it pink. Some people will choose to hold a cake sale, while others will opt to organise a raffle and some will arrange a pink fancy dress day at their school or workplace. No matter how people chose to wear it pink, all the money raised will help to fund vital breast cancer research and support.

In April 2019, Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now merged to create the UK’s first comprehensive breast cancer charity, united around the shared ambition that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and be supported to live well. Every wear it pink donation will help towards this goal.

Wear it pink on 18 October and raise funds for breast cancer research and support. Visit wearitpink.org to register and claim your free fundraising pack.

Work Experience Diary – Ela Rawling

“It was a fascinating week. I’ve learned so much about what it would be like to work for the National Assembly for Wales, and I’ve really enjoyed myself.” – Ela Rawling Heywood, Sir Thomas Jones School, Amlwch

01/07/19 – On arrival at the office on Monday I got started on some casework, where I tried to help find a way of getting a young girl with a disability into college. I sat in a meeting about broadband fibre and the options for people who live in a village where there is only a weak connection. A complaint came in by a constituent about the lack of equipment at a public location that should have this equipment, and by the end of the week we had secured a positive result to solve this problem!

02/07/19 – I travelled to Cardiff on Monday night in order to gain work experience in the National Assembly for Wales for two days. I attended a meeting about Wales’ fiscal future, and then prepared points that could be useful to Rhun in the chamber. After lunch I attended two drop-in events, the first for Welsh learners and the second with Morlais, which is a company located here on Anglesey. I also sat in on a meeting about nuclear power. After arriving back to the office I created invitations for the Cross Party group meeting on Wales International, before ending a very interesting day.

03/07/19 – My last day at the Assembly was Wednesday and unfortunately Rhun couldn’t be there because he was at a funeral, so I continued with the invitations, and carried out research about Tecwyn Jones who was a man from Ynys Mon who had worked for NASA, ready for Rhun’s 90 second statement.

04/07/19 – On the Thursday at the Llangefni office I started by drafting an email for someone who wished to receive letters in Welsh, not in English from the hospital. I responded to invitations on behalf of Rhun ap Iorwerth and drafted letters of congratulations.

05/07/19 – On my last day, I continued to draft congratulatory letters before going attending an advice surgery at Beaumaris. Rhun carries out surgeries every week throughout the island in order to chat with constituents and try to help solve any issues or problems they might have.

Work Experience Blog – Iwan Kellett

My name is Iwan Kellett and I’m a sixth form student at Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones. From the 17th to 21st of June I had the opportunity to go on work experience at Rhun ap Iorwerth’s office, the National Assembly for Wales Member for Ynys Môn. I spent three days working in the constituency office in Llangefni and the other two days in Tŷ Hywel, Cardiff at the Assembly office.

On my first day I was at the Constituency Office in Llangefni and immediately I was surprised to see the variety of work that was going on. In the morning, we visited a great exhibition at the MENCAP Hub showing portraits of Hub users. Then back in the office I learned how the office provides support and helps constituents. In the afternoon we went to Llanbedrgoch to learn more about the work the North Wales Wildlife Trust carries out there. It was amazing to know that I live so close to such an important area that I’d never actually visited before!

I flew down to Cardiff from Valley to work in the office in Tŷ Hywel on Tuesday and Wednesday. There was another person on work experience there called Mo, so when we arrived we went for a tour of the site and found out more about how the Senedd and Tŷ Hywel work. When I got back to the office I translated a document for release to the press and immediately afterwards we visited the BBC which was running an event to discuss broadcasting issues in Wales. Then after lunch I sat down and listened to FMQ’s. It must be said, I was a little star-struck walking around seeing the different Assembly Members. I even got my book signed by Adam Price! Down in Cardiff I also helped write a speech and went to a meeting to take notes.

For the rest of the week I was back in Llangefni responding to constituents’ worries and trying to help them by writing e-mails on their behalf on a wide variety of issues.

The week was amazing! I learned so many things and the experience was fantastic! It was an eye-opener to see all the work the office does and of course the Assembly Member. From listening to national issues in the chamber to hearing local problems in the office. For anyone thinking of going to Rhun ap Iorwerth’s office for work experience, please do! It’s been an amazing experience, thanks to the team for a great week.

Work Experience Blog – Ifan Jones

Monday, July 8th 2019
I had a great first day on work experience with the Assembly Member for Ynys Môn – Rhun ap Iorwerth. I wrote letters and answered various emails. It was really interesting to find out more about the life of an Assembly Member and the team around him. I went to an afternoon surgery in Benllech and saw how those sessions worked, getting a taste of the issues that Assembly Members and their staff have to deal with on a day to day basis. It was a really good day, and I learned a lot about the role.

Tuesday, July 9th 2019
Working at Ty Hywel was a very unique experience. I spent the morning organising surgeries for September, and doing various other tasks such as answering emails. It was a wonderful experience sharing an office with other Assembly Members, and then hearing them debate in the afternoon during First Minister’s Questions with Mark Drakeford.

Wednesday, July 10th 2019
In my final day at Ty Hywel I listened to an interesting Cross-Party Group session about international Wales at the Pierhead. I also researched the topic of extending Parliament to more Assembly Members, and researched Tecwyn Roberts, the Welshman who worked for NASA on the first successful moon landing mission in 1969.

Thursday, July 11th 2019
Back at the office in Llangefni I was able to complete an application form for the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales, which was really interesting to find out more about the further steps an Assembly Member can take to help their constituents.

Friday, July 12th 2019
On my last day I visited the food technology centre in Llangefni, seeing the great conditions for new companies, and in the afternoon I helped draft a letter to Welsh Government’s Health Minister Vaughan Gething, which was another learning experience about how an Assembly Member can help their constituents. Looking back on the week, I had a really good time and learned a lot of new things. I want to thank everyone for a great week.

BLOG: The Brexit Reality

I knew things weren’t going well for our campaign to remain in the European Union, when I visited a school in my constituency in the final days of the campaign. It wasn’t a visit related to the referendum, but the head teacher came to me and said:

“It’s so difficult, isn’t it?!”

I asked her what she meant.

“Well, this Europe thing… it’s so difficult to decide whether we should be in or out.”

I can’t tell you which way she voted, but for a young professional like her, in an area that has clearly benefitted from European funding, where immigration from outside the UK is just not an issue at all, to find it difficult to decide on what I personally – from the same generation and similar background to her found very, very easy to decide on – proved to me that we weren’t in a good place.

It had been the worst of campaigns. Here in Wales, we’d just fought an Assembly election – so mobilising troops after a tough campaign was difficult – not just in Plaid Cymru, but across the political parties. I think the Remain campaign failed to articulate the positives on EU membership in a way that engaged with people like the Anglesey head teacher. And of course this was a campaign set against a backdrop of negatives about our EU membership that had very successfully touched many nerves over a long period of time. A drip, drip effect of negative connotations about our membership – driven by the new global phenomenon of populist politics, made possible and made fertile by a decade of austerity, of financial and economic uncertainty.

“Things can’t get any worse than they are now,” was a conclusion many had come to. And I understand what drove such sentiments. Governments were seen as ineffective. The poor had been hit hardest. The temptation was put before them to stick two fingers up to the lot of them! To the lot of us!

Then bring in the lies of the Leave campaign – best embodied through the infamous red bus. £350m a week for the NHS. No ambiguity – just a straight up ‘why spend this money on membership of a club that gives us NOTHING in return – NOTHING! – when we could be spending it on a cash-starved health service.’

It sounds pretty compelling, doesn’t it?

Until, of course, even the slightest of scratches is made on the side of that bus. Within hours of the vote, Nigel Farage was saying that he’d never subscribed to the ‘£350m a week for the NHS’ argument. That wasn’t true.

Too late.

And of course in Wales, the idea that our membership fee for the EU club had brought ‘nothing’ in return was as preposterous as the notion that the NHS itself would be saved simply by ceasing to pay our EU subs.

It is not with pride that we in Wales can say we’ve successfully claimed some of the EU’s most generous aid packages in receent years. It’s because West Wales and the Valleys is one of the poorest regions in the whole of the EU, But it’s not just Objective One funding – the pot that has made most headlines regarding EU funding – it’s the plethora of funds and support packages that has made us clear net beneficiaries when it comes to judging whether membership has been ‘worth it’ or not.

I haven’t mentioned farming yet. The idea that those on the receiving end of EU agricultural subsidy would vote to end it with NO suggestion – not even a whiff – of what might replace it, has led to much head-scratching on my part. I just don’t get it.

And I haven’t even mentioned Welsh business and industry yet. Whilst the UK is a net importer, Wales is a net exporter to the EU, and needless to say the free movement of goods between Wales and other European nations is vital to the economic health of those businesses, and the tens of thousands of jobs that depend on them.

But Wales voted to Leave. Why?

The rush-job didn’t help. With the campaign narrative dominated by a UK media – much of which had long made its mind up that we should leave, and much of it because of the self-interest of press owners – it was nigh on impossible to inject a Welsh dimension into the debate. We tried our best, but our best wasn’t good enough.

The hurry to hold the vote also meant there was no basis for a proper and detailed discussion. Compare that with the Scottish independence referendum. I remember sitting in a cafe in Glasgow during that referendum, and on the table was a copy of ‘Scotland’s Future’ – the White Paper on Scottish Independence. It was a hefty document. It had been published in November 2013, almost a full year before the referendum. What I remember about that document in the Glasgow cafe was that it was in tatters. It had been picked up, pored over, coffee spilt on it, studied, dissected…. and left for the next customer.

Scotland ultimately chose not to take up the option in the 2014 Referendum, but the debate and discussion had been inspiring. And there was no lack of evidence about what independence could mean – both pros and cons.
The European Referendum had no such beginnings. Called hurriedly for internal Conservative Party reasons, there was nowhere the Anglesey head teacher or anyone could turn to read and find out what was at stake. No document from which others could pen their own supporting documents or counter arguments.

All we had was rhetoric. The Remain campaign warning people – ‘please don’t do this, there’s too much at stake’ (but we can’t really explain very well what that is)…. and the Leave campaign – equally short on fact, but heavy on nurturing the seeds of negativity that had clearly taken hold, but that now we know had taken hold and rooted deeper and firmer than we had imagined.

June 24th began for me in the radio studios of the BBC in Bangor. I had been worried that this would be the outcome of the vote, but for it to have happened left me numb. A quick phone call home found three children in tears.When Theresa May dared say in Florence last week that we – the UK – had never felt really at home in the European Union. She wasn’t speaking for me, and she wasn’t speaking for my family.

My wife had been an Erasmus student – that wonderful programme, established by a Welshman, giving opportunities to students EU-wide to share knowledge and cultural experiences by studying in other EU countries. She was studying French and Italian, and spent time at Annecy and Parma universities. I spent time there with her – we were college sweethearts, celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary next year. To our children, this is the norm.

When we travel across Europe – it was a tent in France this summer – it’s not an alien country that they visit, but another country – yes – but one with which we are bound through a common venture. We are diverse – we have our own languages, traditions – but we are one at the same time. What they saw on the morning of June 24th 2016 was that a part of their future had been taken away – the freedom to travel and study and work and play and build network and share ideas. They’ll still be able to GO there, of course, they may even work there – who knows, but to limit horizons? For what reason? That was what they couldn’t fathom.

It might be worth noting here how, as a Welsh nationalist seeking autonomy for Wales, I square this with my views on the European Union. Surely I, too, want to break bonds and shut ourselves away… don’t I? To use a much favoured word about me and my type, be it in Wales or Scotland, or in Catalonia… am I not a “SEPARATIST”!

Let me tell you – the nationalism that we have in Wales… in Plaid Cymru, but also hopefully among more and more people in other parties and none – is a civic nationalism about building our nation in partnership with others. My vision of a self-governing, sovereign Wales is one which would have solid, open partnerships with other countries in these islands and beyond at its heart. It would have as close a relationship as POSSIBLE with England, Ireland… and yes, the rest of the EU.

To those that have been somehow seeking ‘independence for the UK’, I tell you, the UK is and has been throughout its membership of the EU, independent. Try looking at Wales’ political relationship with the UK from a Welsh person’s perspective, and then you’ll see the real denial of the freedom to steer your own destiny. The EU isn’t one state. It is made up of independent states. I’d love to see Wales being a member of both a British and European union of nations, each with their own priorities and quirks and ways of doing things, but working together on those areas that are for the common good. That, to me, has been the story of the EU.

So what does the future now hold?

Well, we are now fifteen months after the referendum, and the reality is – we have no more clarity on what post-EU Wales and Britain will be like; what new challenges and – let’s be positive – what new opportunities we may have, than we did before the vote was taken.

Our immediate response as a party was to try to highlight what was at stake. We had a job of work to do in persuading Welsh Government of the need to take decisive action. We called a vote in the National Assembly in November last year seeking Assembly support for the principle of seeking continued membership of the Single Market. The Labour Welsh Government failed to support that. We needed to push on this front. We co-authored a joint Welsh Government-Plaid Cymru White Paper called ‘Securing Wales’ Future’, which stated Wales should continue to participate in the Single Market, either as members of EEA and/or EFTA, or with an new deal kind of deal. It also called for the development of a comprehensive new international policy for Wales, and for the remodeling of the way the UK works so no agreements could be made without the consent of Wales and of our National Assembly. There was particular mention of protecting the agriculture industry, and a clear statement that European migrants in Wales are not “bargaining chips”, and are contributors to our society.

It was important that this was done, but not surprisingly, UK Government hasn’t exactly taken our views on board.
Not only is there an unwillingness to progress in a way that gives Wales a meaningful voice, we have a repeal bill going through the UK parliament at the moment that undermines and grabs power back from the people of Wales and its democratically elected Assembly and Welsh Government.

The Withdrawal Bill will give UK Ministers powers to act without the need for Parliamentary approval, including powers to amend existing Welsh legislation. It will also ensure that any powers currently held at EU level being repatriated, even in devolved areas of policy, will be held in London.

As we’ve consistently said – we consider this Bill to be an affront to democracy. We’ve had two referendums in Wales confirming the will of the Welsh people regarding the powers of our Assembly and Government – and it’s hypocritical in the extreme for the UK Government to suggest that by voting against the repeal Bill it’s US that are undermining principles of democracy! This is the reality of Brexit for Wales in democratic terms – a power grab by UK Government, and the undermining of our national voice.

So yes, Plaid Cymru MPs voted against the Repeal Bill this month, as they voted against the triggering of Article 50. And frankly the Prime Minister’s speech in Florence this week proved that we were right in saying that somehow we don’t think the UK is ready!

Having started the clock ticking, already desperately unprepared, what did the Prime Minister do? She triggered an election! Her self-preservation was put before the need to actually get the job done. Precious time has been lost, and now that the PM has officially stated the obvious that Britain won’t be ready by early 2019… the reality is starting to bite.

So a transition period it is. Of course there’ll have to be one! And the world is laughing at the sheer ineptitude of a negotiating team that doesn’t know what it’s asking for, and has not an inkling of what the end result will be. Crossing fingers, buying time and hoping for the best is no way to deal with such fundamental questions about the future of the British state.

And as if the underwhelming nothingness of that Florence speech didn’t say enough, the downgrading of the UK’s credit rating by the Moody’s agency over the weekend, is further evidence of the effects of uncertainty. The agency said: “any free trade agreement will likely take years to negotiate, prolonging the current uncertainty for business”. Once again – proof that the pursuit of a hard Brexit is putting our economy at risk.

We’ve been clear from the outset, Single Market membership and continued membership of the Customs Union are a must in order to protect Wales’ interest. That how our companies can keep trading, how we can protect our exporters, and protect Holyhead port, for example. There are trade tariffs, and there are other trade and customs barriers that could be hugely detrimental to the flow of goods.

But let’s not forget the flow of people that has been beneficial to Wales in so many ways. Last week in the Assembly my colleague Steffan Lewis, the Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales East who’s been excellent in his analysis of the Brexit threat and the Brexit reality, said that a clear trend is emerging that we are struggling to attract the numbers of people that we need for our economic and public service needs, due, he said, to “the signal being sent out from the UK Government to the rest of the world”. He reiterated our call for a right for Wales to issue visas and permits post-Brexit so we can plan for our own needs. Needless to say this isn’t something the UK Government is showing an interest in granting to Wales.

But the City of London, Steffan suggested, could be in line for such permit-giving powers. “If this is truly a family of equals and a family of nations,” he said “then it will not be acceptable for London, the one region of the UK that already gets an enormous economic and political advantage over everyone else – the entire economic construction of the United Kingdom is based upon that one corner – … if they’re allowed to have work permits of their own, and not the rest of us, that will be devastating for a country like Wales.”

And he’s right – not just for those parts of the economy that need people that we just can’t find here, but also for our health and social care sectors. We are hugely indebted to those Doctors and Nurses and other health professionals from other EU states who work hard in our health service, and we’re already seeing, through UK Government inaction, that they’re feeling unvalued. We couldn’t operate without them. And I fear that we can’t even measure the numbers who WOULD have considered coming to work here, but who now think better for fear of being made to feel unwelcome, or of being repatriated somewhere down the line.

I’ve stated previously that I understand why people would’ve voted to leave just because of being fed up with how things are. Goodness knows, I’m not exactly calling for the status quo myself! I understand the young mother in Holyhead who told me she didn’t know why she voted out, but her dad did, so she followed his lead. She perhaps didn’t have the information, to have been able to come to another conclusion.

I also respect those who’ve made a very conscious decision that the EU isn’t for them, that they don’t like the EU constructs – the sheer size of the EU, perhaps.

But what we can never say is “the UK, or Wales, voted OUT because of x”. Because of one factor, or a number of specific factors. We cannot say people voted out because they wanted to limit immigration. Many people did, I’ve no doubt, but the reason the Leave camp edged it are many and complex.

I’ll always make the case for staying in the EU, and I don’t think anyone would expect me to have changed my mind since the referendum. The vote was the vote – there’s no erasing the history of what happened in the referendum in June 2016, and I respect the result. But people who voted remain AND those who voted to leave share a common future, and ALL of them – all of us – deserve honesty from the UK Government. Honesty about the reality. Honesty about the difficulties. Honesty about what’s at stake.

Already polls in Wales show the result would be likely to be different now. And I hope that just as the will of the people was acted on to vigorously by the hard brexiteering politicians after the referendum, the will of the people is measured very, very carefully as the looming EU exit approaches. A second referendum? Asking the same question again? Well, no. That would suggest undoing the first result. That result stands – but the ambiguity will never satisfy me. But what about a fresh poll on the deal reached – what Brexit ACTUALLY means? I think that should always have been a part of the plan.
Rushing headlong into hard Brexit as is the current trajectory is NOT something I believe would have the support of the majority of people in Wales, especially now that AFTER the referendum – oh the irony – AFTER the referendum, we’ve had a bit of time to discuss what Brexit actually means. I think the leader of the Welsh Conservatives had it right with his slip of the tongue – “Brexit means breakfast,” he said. Yes, a dog’s breakfast that’s in danger of leaving us significantly worse off. For the sake of some “splendid isolation” – giving the UK an ‘independence’ that it already had. An independence – or should I say co-dependence, and an ability to play its part alongside others as an equal – that I wish my nation can have one day too.

Work experience blog – Elin Lloyd Griffiths 17/07/17 – 21/07/17

My name is Elin Lloyd Griffiths, and I am a year 12 pupil currently studying at Ysgol David Hughes. I was fortunate enough this week to go on work experience with the AM for Anglesey, Rhun ap Iorwerth. I spent three days in the constituency office in Llangefni doing various interesting things whether it would be focusing on the Broadband problem which is currently causing many difficulties for the people of Anglesey to being able to go to the official opening of RSPB Cors Ddyga. I spent the other two days of my week in Cardiff where I could see with my own two eyes what sort of things take place there. I instantly realised quite soon after arriving at Tŷ Hywel how different my experience in Cardiff would be compared to my experience in the constituency office in Llangefni. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my work experience, and being able to put myself in a politician’s shoes for a week!

The first thing that I did on the Monday morning was to listen to a discussion between Rhun and a women representing Waters of Wales. She believed strongly that everyone should have access to every river as all they want to do is appreciate the natural beauty around them. I found that this was a very intriguing discussion as the other side of the story would be that landowners don’t feel that the general public should have the right to trespass on their land. As well as this, I had the opportunity to go to the official opening of RSPB Cors Ddyga as Rhun was opening the nature reserve. We heard the Choir of Ysgol Esceifiog singing as well as the unveiling of a wooden bittern sculpture which has been commissioned especially for RSPB Cors Ddyga to mark the reserves’ recent celebration when the bittern nested at RSPB Cors Ddyga – the first time in Wales for 32 years.

By Tuesday and Wednesday, I was in Tŷ Hywel in Rhun’s office. I read a consultation by the government proposing to lower the voting age in local elections to 16 years old. Following this, I had the opportunity to write a press release alongside Rhun voicing my opinion on this matter. I find it very unfair that the young people of Wales and the United Kingdom in general cannot be included in the country’s democracy due to our age. In addition, it is extremely frustrating for young people because politics has been evolving rapidly especially in the last year in particular, and despite the fact that these changes are going to affect our future, we don’t have a vote to express our feelings about it! I was fortunate enough to go and listen to the First Minister’s questions in the Senedd. This was a very interesting experience as I could sense the underlying tension between the parties, and I liked how some of the parties challenged the First Minister especially in the questions where he wasn’t allowed to prepare beforehand. I also had the opportunity to translate Rhun’s article in the Holyhead and Anglesey Mail on the importance of learning a foreign language, and this was extremely beneficial especially as I intent to study languages at University. My experience in the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff was very rewarding. From witnessing the Health Committee discussing health related issues to participating in a discussion on Brexit, it was an eye-opener seeing just how different the work is in Cardiff compared to Llangefni, but at the same time, I realised just how interesting politics is at the moment here in Wales.

I was back in the constituency office in Llangefni by Thursday, and I wrote a letter as well as a poster on behalf of Plaid Cymru here on Anglesey regarding the Broadband issue that is prevalent on the island. The letter invited people across the island to come to an event where they could see if they are eligible to receive Fibre to the Premises broadband. We went to the official opening of the Cefni and Alaw water reservoirs on the Friday where there are millions of pounds being invested into the island, and this is extremely heart-warming to see.

It has been a very enjoyable and beneficial week for me. From listening to the First Minister’s questions in the Senedd to going to the official opening of RSPB Cors Ddyga back on the Island, I have had various experiences that have enabled me to think about the possible jobs available in the political world. I would like to thank Rhun, Non, Francess and Heledd for the opportunity and experience.

Guest Blog: Iestyn Hughes on his work experience in Rhun’s office

A Week with Rhun ap Iorwerth, Ynys Mon’s Assembly Member by Iestyn Hughes

My name is Iestyn Hughes and I am a History and Politics graduate.

During the week from the 31st of January to the 3rd of February I went on work experience with Rhun ap Iorwerth, the Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Mon, spending three days in his constituency office in Llangefni and two days at the National Assembly for Wales.

I started the week off in Plaid Cymru’s constituency office in Llangefni, getting to know the staff as well as the day-to-day work of an Assembly Member. It was really intriguing to see how an AM works with public enquiries, issues within the community as well as meeting with various charities and societies such as the Alzheimer’s Society

Stepping off the train bright and early on Tuesday morning in Cardiff, I began my two days in the National Assembly. In the time that I was there, I was shown the inner workings of the Welsh Government, from watching the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee’s inquiry into Marine Protected Areas in Wales, to sitting in the public gallery to watch First Minister’s Questions on Tuesday afternoon.

I was also allowed to draft a press statement covering Rhun’s contribution to FMQs, and even allowed to take the pictures when Rhun co-presented – along with Welsh Conservative leader Andrew R.T. Davies – a cheque of £3,863 to Bowel Cancer UK from Newport and Gwent Dragons (no expensive cameras were harmed in this photoshoot, I can assure you).

Thursday, and back to the office in Anglesey, starting the day with a round-up of relevant press headlines for Rhun. I then helped collect relevant data on home- and respite care within Wales to be collated and sent to the Cardiff office, and then got in touch with Rhun’s constituents who wished to meet with him at one his constituency Surgery at the end of the week.

To round off the week, I went to along with Rhun and his staff to Amlwch to attend his constituent Surgeries, getting to meet face-to-face with members of Anglesey’s public and listen to what they had to say.

It’s been an enlightening and exciting week, and I’d like to thank Rhun and all of the Llangefni and Cardiff staff for their warm welcome and for giving me this opportunity.

Work experience blog – by Ifan Hughes

I had the opportunity to go for a week of work experience with Rhun ap Iorwerth, Assembly Member of Anglesey, in his office in Llangefni in July 2016. I am a second year student at Bangor University studying History and I live in Bryngwran on Anglesey. Because my time at University is coming to an end next year, and I’m not entirely sure of what to do after I graduate, going on work experience with Rhun was a good opportunity for me to understand more of what kind of work an AM does. Because I study History and I have an interest in politics the experience was an eye opener for me to help my decision for what path I’m going to take after I graduate.

During my time I had the opportunity to accomplish many different type of tasks and gained many new experiences that were very useful for me. I spent my week in the office in Llangefni and there I had the opportunity to work in the company of Rhun and his staff which were always ready to help and give me plenty of work.

I attended one of Rhun’s public meetings in Llangefni rugby club on the 4th of July about the referendum and how Rhun intended on moving forward following the result to leave. Following the meeting I had the opportunity to write a statement on the event that would be released to the press. I had never written a statement before, this was a useful skill for me because writing a statement focuses on using quotes more than my own interpretation of the event, something I do often in my work at University.

I took part in a ‘Surgery’ with Rhun listening to people’s problems and inquiries about many different matters. By taking notes at the Surgery I then went on to write letters to try and solve the problems. I also wrote a letter to congratulate Creating Chances group on winning a grant from the Big Lottery Fund. Because of Rhun’s very busy schedule I went through articles in the Holyhead & Anglesey Mail giving a short summery of their content to update Rhun on the local news.

Because I didn’t go down to Cardiff with Rhun, I had the opportunity to attend meetings on Anglesey. By attending these meetings I got a better idea of what Rhun and his staff deal with and I also had the opportunity to voice my opinion in some of the meetings.

It was a very interesting week and I enjoyed the experience of working with an AM and understanding more on what kind of work they deal with. Certainly the week of work experience has been very useful for me to start thinking of getting a job within politics in the future.