During the recent National Assembly elections, Plaid Cymru stood on a platform of change.
A change that would deliver not simply a new political makeup for our country but a transformational change that would deliver tangible improvements for communities across the country.
In health, in education and for prosperity.
Through this vote, people have not provided any party with a mandate to form a majority government.
While one party won more seats than any other, it did so with a little over one third of the popular vote (their share of the vote dropped by nearly 8 per cent on a constituency level). Plaid Cymru went from being the third largest party to second.
The electoral context may not have changed to the extent we would have liked, but it has changed. Things cannot now carry on as they did before.
From day one, Plaid Cymru accepted that the largest party had a right to form a minority government. In a meeting which took place before the Senedd vote, I asked the acting First Minister for a one week pause to facilitate meaningful dialogue with the Party of Wales as the official opposition on the best way forward for the country.
That was our first act as the opposition party and it demonstrates that we take our responsibilities seriously.
That request for a delay was declined and, as a result, all parties – Labour included – were informed of my party’s intention to nominate me for First Minister.
In that vote, the other opposition parties chose to support my nomination and the vote ended up being tied twenty-nine all. There was no deal, but the opposition parties through that vote were able to demonstrate how the Assembly has no overall majority.
Since then, Plaid Cymru undertook talks with the largest party to see if a way could be found out of this impasse. I am satisfied now that Labour’s belated show of humility has led to Plaid Cymru being able to allow the successful nomination of a First Minister and the formation of a new government.
Plaid Cymru has agreed to withdraw my name and allow Labour’s nomination through in exchange for a number of concessions for people. We are not interested in ministerial cars. We are interested in implementing our programme which was designed to improve people’s lives.
We have secured the beginning of the end of the postcode lottery for new health treatments and medicines. Plaid Cymru’s actions will result in a National Infrastructure Commission that will help rebuild our economy.
This will be a vehicle to enable the joint working between universities and industry, for example such as through the development of a new research centre into the future of the steel industry in Wales. It will also be a means of supporting the steel industry through the procurement policy as we argued during the election.
There will be affordable childcare for all from the age of three, because the Party of Wales has secured it. And there will be extra apprenticeship places.
Such policy gains – among others – have been achieved in parallel with our insistence on the establishment of a new political culture.
From the Party of Wales’ perspective, this shows that we intend to be an opposition clear in our goals and priorities. We are also prepared to show our mettle if and when that is needed.
Labour now are fully aware that they will have to lose their complacency and work hard for Wales or face the political consequences.
We have voted with other opposition parties once and we are not afraid to do so again to hold this minority Labour administration to account.
Throughout the last election, we said at every opportunity that it is our deep conviction that our country needs new leadership. At government level, we now look to the Sixth Assembly – post 2021- for that opportunity.
To be clear, Plaid Cymru never has and never will contemplate doing a deal that allows Ukip into power. Under my leadership, the same goes for the Tories. I’ve always said that, and that position has not at any stage changed.
Propaganda to the contrary is just that; lies, which should be challenged hard.
After an explosive start to the new Assembly, the time has come for another pledge.
In this next term, Plaid Cymru will be the most effective opposition in the history of devolution.
We will take our responsibilities seriously. We will not shy from holding Labour to account and we are prepared to defeat them during Assembly proceedings when we deem that to be in Wales’ best interests.
Much has been written and spoken of in relation to ‘political alignment’ in the past week or so.
In that respect, people need know that the only political card Plaid Cymru will play, will be the Wales card.
Our driving ambition is to build a successful nation and that overriding aim will guide Plaid Cymru at every stage in this Assembly and beyond.
To that end, our Programme for Opposition is closely tied to our recent manifesto. Our aims will be transparent: everyone will know the objectives of this Plaid Cymru group.
Last week, our National Assembly came to life in a way not seen for the best part of two decades.
It is my hope that the new Plaid Cymru team will breathe new life into Welsh democracy that will reverberate for years to come. Watch this space.