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Friday, November 16, 2007

Peace dividend?

The relentless bombardment of initiatives from Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price and the Party's Vice-President, Jill Evans MEP over the last few months has been difficult to keep up with. To be fair, no matter how much one disagrees with some or all of these proposals, we have to acknowledge that they are setting the news agenda. The question mark that hangs over this whole process however, has to be to what extent it is benefiting them.

My guess is that the latest prouncement by Jill Evans will do them damage. No matter how much she is keeping to her principles (and I admire her for that), to suggest that Wales turns its back on 5,000 jobs because of their military connections is just not going to go down well with the vast majority of the electorate.

Her vision of an independent Wales that has slashed spending on defence and pulled out of Nato may well appeal to some, but in reality all we will be doing is looking to the largesse of what is left of the UK to protect us. There is not much independence in that.

John Smith is right when he describes these views as 'dangerous nonsense'. If Plaid Cymru adopt them as official policy then it will put their Welsh Ministers in a very difficult situation indeed.

Update: Labour AM Huw Lewis is quite unequivocal on the specific point of Ieuan Wyn Jones' responsibility to speak out on this issue.
I completely agree. Plaid are so naive. 'Nonsense' is definately the word.
I remember going to a serious lecture many years ago in the "Cross Community Centre" Pontardawe given by Plaid Cymru guru Professor Phil Williams (he who died in a Brothel). It was entitled "Defending the Free Wales" and was in the days when Plaid Cymru wanted "Freedom" which they denied totally of late and are now resurrecting. It was totally laughable. Honestly for a Professor of Astro Physics it was as if an alien was speaking. He wanted a Swiss type Home Guiard with all the entire population to have small firearms and firearms training. As for opposing military Tanks army invasion from England he suggested excavating railway type deep cuttings along the border with England and then planting dense conifer forests the Welsh sides of these deep cuttings so the Rifle Brigades could pick off the tanks in the cuttings from the trees. He had no answer for an Air Force strike from above or any Naval Attack from the West. It was very serious lunacy. Then he later emerged into the Assembly as the Architect of the lunatic TAN8 Policy and died in a Brothel.
No one should laugh at Jill Evans. Remember it was Welsh bowmen who turned the tide at both Crecy and Agincourt. Who knows what damage they could do in the 21st century. Keep it up Jill. At this rate Plaid will be back to where they were before the Second World War in terms of political support.
Oh, please, will people stop bandying about this 5000 jobs figure! Every time it's used there's the underlying assumption that 5000 jobs will be created by the military academy - this is a complete fiction.
Yet still every article in the Western Mail makes this same spurious claim, and almost every politician's utterance related to the plans dredges the same figure up again and again.
Most of the jobs will be re-locations from other military training facilities in the UK, the move of MOD training to St Athan will result in a net decrease in the number of military trainers out there of around 1000, and most of the jobs that will be made available to us locals will be short-term contruction jobs and low-skilled service sector posts. Do you really think that you'll find too many highly skilled instructors who are able to teach trainee soldiers how to drive challenger tanks down Barry job centre?! Get real.
My own blog post on the St Athan jobs lies can be found here:
Jill Evans is the first mainstream politicians to stand up to the "Emperor has no clothes" nonsense on St Athan... there won't be 5,000 jobs and those that do come will mainly be transferred from England. It's just a massive piece of spin by people who really should know better.
Everyone who supports St Athan is supporting the privatisation of a public service. No surprises that Chris Tory Bryant supports that, but do the Lib Dems?
Some of the lecturers might come from existing establishments but this will not be the case with the support staff. Even with the lecturers, turnover will mean more employment opportunities for people based in Wales. The economic benefits of the academy will also be increased by the multiplier effect of the use of local companies to provide goods and services. The basic problem with the Jill Evans gaffe is that it is yet another example of how being in government has caused some members of Plaid to actually believe their own rhetoric that one day Wales will be independent. In fact what happened last may was that Labour voters who voted for the party in 2005 did not vote. There was no surge of support for Plaid. Under instructions from London to stay in office at all costs Labour would have done a deal after the election with anyone except the Tories.The Trade unions supported the deal because they were worried that any government containing the Tories would reform the public sector. The deal with Plaid was easy because it contained a referendum promise which in practice is pretty meaningless. Plaid swallowed the sweeter and now we have the laughable position in Welsh politics of Plaid politicians having to defend an indefensible settlement which they should have seen coming.Given the effect of the settlement on the Plaid local government heartlands next May's council elections could be really interesting
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