The Welsh Liberal Democrats will head to Swansea this weekend to hold their first in-person spring conference since the outbreak of COVID-19.
The Party is buoyed by a positive set of local election results since May, which saw the Welsh Liberal Democrats move forward for the first time since 2010 and lead a council for the first time since 2012. The elections also saw them become the official opposition in the Conference host city of Swansea.
The results have been seen as a sign within the Party that rebuilding efforts are having a positive effect as they work towards establishing themselves ahead of the next Senedd elections which will take place under a new, more proportional voting system.
At the conference, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds is expected to call for a “more generous society” pitching radical and innovative ideas to tackle a stagnation in Welsh living standards and reinvigorate the economy.
Jane Dodds is expected to pitch her Party as the “party of community” in contrast to the “mindless destruction of the Conservative Party” and the “uninspiring and unambitious managerialism of Labour”.
In particular, she will emphasise the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ internationalism and focus on the climate emergency as something that sets the Party apart from the two main parties, with the Welsh Liberal Democrats committed to rebuilding a stronger relationship with the EU and is the only party in the Senedd that has opposed the opening of new coal mines in Wales.
She will also highlight the role the Welsh Liberal Democrats hope to play in “wiping the Conservatives off the electoral map of Wales” in the next general election arguing that the Conservatives have crashed the economy and damaged trust in politics.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats are second place in two seats currently, Brecon and Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire, both in Powys and both former Lib Dem seats. The Party argues that last year’s local elections which saw them win the most seats in Powys set them up well for the next general election, particularly in Brecon and Radnorshire where the Conservatives were left with just a single councillor.
She will also highlight what she believes are Labour’s failings in the Welsh Government, particularly focusing on waiting NHS waiting lists, access to dental care in Wales and the pace to help desperate victims of the building safety scandal and the allowance of a Wales-specific covid inquiry.
Unlike the other larger parties, members set policy in the Liberal Democrats and among the motions expected to be debated include proposals to move Wales towards a 4-day week, creating a Celtic Sea economy based on offshore wind and creating an independent NHS executive.