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Supported by Edge Hill University’s Student Opportunity Fund, second year BA (Hons) History and Politics student, Caileigh Russell travelled to Aberystwyth for the Plaid Cymru Conference and tells us about her experience.

Attending political events is important for students wanting to understand how politics works. At Edge Hill, our degree content is as real world as possible. That means projects linked to real political organisations, as well as guest speakers and field trips.

Student Caileigh Russell
Student Caileigh Russell

“Plaid Cymru’s Annual Autumn Conference took place in the Arts Centre at Aberystwyth University in mid Wales. This was the party’s second in-person annual conference since the hiatus over covid. It was also the first conference for new leader Rhun ap Iorwerth. The event was attended by activists and politicians from all over Wales and beyond, so it felt very busy.

“This visit to the Plaid Cymru Conference will help my studies in many ways. It has given me a better insight into how local campaigning often works.

Over the two days there was a range of speeches from current Senedd* Members, Members of Parliament and prospective candidates. There were debates on topics like how Plaid is tackling the cost-of-living crisis and what Plaid members think about various health and social care issues. We heard from Liz Saville Roberts, a Member of the UK Parliament, Richard Thompson, a Scottish National Party member of Parliament who speaks on Wales for the party. We also listened to the opening speech by Elin Jones, who is a member of the Senedd.

*The Welsh Parliament is the democratically elected body that represents the interests of Wales and its people. Commonly known as the Senedd, it makes laws for Wales, agrees Welsh taxes and holds the Welsh Government to account.

Outside the main hall there were fringe meetings which covered a broad range of subjects for conference-goers to choose from. These included the involvement of Plaid with the Yes Cymru Campaign and The World Wide Fund for Nature Cymru. In the event space outside there were stalls set up for both days, with both Welsh companies and charities as well as UK ones. There was also an awards ceremony for longstanding Plaid members for their commitment to the party and to their local areas.

Going to the Plaid Cymru Conference was a great experience. It was the first party political conference I have attended and so it provided me with a good understand of them, including  how the schedule works and when is the best time to try and interact with the speakers. Conferences can be confusing for newcomers, so it really helps to understand how these events work.

Councillor Llinos Medi
Councillor Llinos Medi

I would say the highlight of the weekend, and what most surprised me, was Llinos Medi’s Speech. Llinos is the Ynys Mon Candidate for Westminster, now the boundaries have officially changed. Not only was it a powerful speech given by a woman in politics, but it was a speech given by someone who has such a strong reason for being in politics. She has been a homeless mother with two children. It was her first ever conference speech and it rightfully deserved the standing ovation that was given at the end.

I believe in the cause of Welsh independence, and it was good to talk to people who shared my views. It was great to be able to speak in Welsh for long periods of time.  I will remember these feelings, including the way I came to understand conferences and how I found the courage to talk to senior people like Members of the Senedd and MPs. I got Catrin Wager’s business card for example so I can contact her again. Catrin is the candidate for Bangor Aberconwy in the next General Election. I feel that making contacts is so important for staying in touch with politics.”

Caileigh Russell
BA (Hons) History and Politics

Caileigh Russell’s visit to the conference was funded through Edge Hill University’s Student Opportunity Fund. The Student Opportunity Fund is an exciting initiative which provides financial support to enable our students to take part in activities which enhance their employability, develop transferable skills, and enrich their student experience. If you are an undergraduate, postgraduate taught, PGCE or MRes student at Edge Hill University, you can apply for up to £2,000 to support a career-enhancing project, initiative or opportunity that will enrich your student experience and enable you to stand out in a competitive environment.

Networking opportunities. Plenty of lively debates. Field trips to party conferences and political events. Edge Hill gives you a real-world experience of the political landscape. 

November 30, 2023


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