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Plaid Cymru Carries the Mantle of Progressive Politics

10/02/2014 12:37 GMT | Updated 11/04/2014 10:59 BST

"We're the only party committed unswervingly to human rights. The only truly internationalist party. The only party with a real vision of Europe. The only party with a consistent track record on public services. The only party with genuine credentials on the environment."

The above is a passage from a speech made by then Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy. When he delivered those words, the Lib Dems had positioned themselves as a progressive voice, drowned out by a chorus of regressive, red-blue consensus.

Today, the Lib Dems are losing supporters in their droves, their values having been sacrificed at the altar of the Coalition.

The Westminster coalition looks more like one between the Conservatives and Ukip - Cameron and his acolytes are influenced more by the right than by the politics espoused by the Liberal Democrats.

Disaffected former supporters of the Liberal Democrats will no doubt face the forthcoming European elections despondent not only of their party's direction, but also of the very narrative that defines the British political mainstream with regards to the European Union.

The temptation for many will no doubt be to stay away from the polling booth in May. It falls on the Party of Wales to take on the mantle of progressive politics in Wales.

Charles Kennedy's quote above, articulated Lib Dem values under his leadership. Indeed, the Party of Wales in many ways was born of the old Liberal tradition at the beginning of the last century. And in the early decades of this century our values chime with today's betrayed Lib Dem voters.

The Party of Wales is committed unswervingly to human rights. Our representatives spoke out against alleged wholesale email snooping that occurred under the Clegg-Cameron watch.

Plaid Cymru is an internationalist party. We are always looking outwards for Wales to take her rightful place among the family of nations, in Britain, Europe and globally.

We remain steadfastly committed to public services remaining in public hands - this is central to our ethos and contrasts to the NHS sell-off in England. And we're committed to decentralised services; empowering all communities across the nation.

Our credentials as a party committed to protecting our environment and accelerating efforts against climate change contrast sharply to the Clegg-Cameron dash for gas. Plaid Cymru advocates a moratorium on fracking until safety and environmental concerns are properly addressed. And we vehemently oppose the Coalition's decision to u-turn on green levies.

The Party of Wales is the only party left that is unashamedly committed to European cooperation. That doesn't mean we don't recognise the need for the EU and its institutions to modernise and meet the aspiration and needs of its citizens, but we have no doubt that Wales, and Europe have benefited from European union.

Freedom of movement, employment rights and targeted regeneration funds for poorer communities have been clear benefits for Wales.

Yet, all of this is under threat.

I would appeal to all European progressives and in particular to disaffected Welsh Lib Dems not to stay at home in the forthcoming European elections. Staying at home will diminish an already low voter turn out to levels that would only allow the right-wing Europhobes to benefit.

The European election in May is Wales' EU referendum. It is a choice between a progressive future for Wales in Europe, or a Wales consigned to the margins by introverted, Little-Englander isolationism.

Plaid Cymru is building a green, progressive and outward-looking Wales.

Anyone sharing this vision, whether or not they have supported us in the past, has a natural home in the Party of Wales.