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Thursday, April 23, 2009

The other-worldliness of Plaid Cymru

I am slowly coming to terms with Twitter and in particular its ability to provide a platform for late night sound-bites that do not look so clever in the light of day. Thus I was not really surprised to see a couple of messages come through last night from Plaid Cymru's Chief Executive, Gwenllian Lansdowne in response to the budget.

Her view was that the Chancellor's actions had endorsed the need for Plaid Cymru's proposal that billions of pounds extra need to be invested in Wales, though she expressed it in a more personal way:

Was it Kirsty Williams who said last Saturday: "Wales doesn't need cheap Plaid rallying cries for billions of pounds extra from Westminster?

Wonder what Kirsty Williams is saying today???

My response was that
perhaps Kirsty is saying that she has been proved right and that Plaid Cymru are living in cloud-cuckoo land if they think that that sort of money is available to the Treasury to invest in Wales. The Chancellor has just announced record borrowing levels for goodness sake, £175 billion this year alone.

And that was the point, because what Kirsty Williams actually said was "Wales doesn't need cheap rallying cries from Plaid for billions of pounds extra from Westminster when the money is not available." In other words let us have some realism in this debate not political posturing. Posturing by the way that was made worse by the fact that shortly after this demand Plaid Cymru launched a new website calling for full independence from the Treasury and the rest of the UK.

At least the need for realism is recognised by some Plaid Cymru politicians. Caernarfon MP, Hywel Williams for example has just been on Radio Wales acknowledging that, unpalatable as they are, cuts in public spending are necessary. He also questioned the effectiveness of the new 50p tax rate for high earners.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats recognise that public services in Wales are underfunded and that is why we have consistently supported a review of the Barnett formula so as to make it needs-based. Indeed, in his response to the budget our Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Roger Williams, said as much, adding that "it is hard to see how these cuts can be applied in a way that doesn't affect frontline services."

We will support any realistic proposals that brings more cash to Wales but so far Plaid Cymru have not come up with any. The only alternative I have seen is on Leanne Wood's blog in which she argues that the Chancellor could have saved billions of pounds by scrapping plans to introduce ID cards and replace the Trident nuclear missile system. I agree but alas neither suggestion will throw up much money in the near future. Most of the expenditure on Trident for example is due after 2014 as I understand it.

We are where we are. Labour have really screwed up the economy and as a result the Welsh Government has £416 million less to spend next year than it had planned for. By all means let us put Labour on the spot for this but can we also keep our feet on the ground as to what is possible and what should have been done to put it right?

Paul Murphy said on Radio Wales this morning that Wales would only be £210 million down rather than the £416 million, and it would be over two years!

Peter, are you able to offer any help with a condition that I seem to be finding myself in more and more?
Why do I feel a sense of disbelief coming over me whenever I hear a statement from a Labour politician these days?
WAG says the £216m is net of the £60m Murphy says is being given back. The other £200m is the capital expenditure brought forward to last year that cannot be spent now this year.
Perhaps you would like to enlighten your readers to how much WAG spent on Management Consultants in the last financial year?

WAG does seem to employ a lot of people, offices scattered throughout Wales, so why so much spent on Management Consultants

I really struggle with this economic illiteracy. Even your own Vince Cable stated this morning that this is the outcome of a global infatuation with un fettered capitalism and it is unreasonable to pretend it can be laid at the door of any particular government or party. He called for less tribalism and more mature behaviour from all political parties. Any chance it can start on this blog?
I am not sure how much WAG spent on management consultants. I would have to check. I am not though a member of WAG.

Yes, Patriot there is a global dimension to this recession but Vince Cable will also point out to you that it has been made worse in this country by the failure to deal with debt, the failure to regulate the banks and the government's failure to grips with the banking crisis early enough. I have no problem with tribalism and do not consider it immature when people's livelihoods are at stake and the government are spinning to try and avoid any responsibility for it. There is nothing economically illiterate about that.
Isn't strange Peter that you want more money spent on public services, including support grants for students in Wales which the Lib Dems in Scotland opposed for Scottish students, but you have yet to tell us where all this money will come from? Which hospitals and schools will you close? Darling's handling the economy very well and the 50p tax on the filthy rich is exactly what socialism is about, if I had my way I'd have made 60p in a pound.
Well Fred, firstly you are wrong about Scotland. The Lib Dems there voted against a measure that fell short of the promises in the SNP manifesto and which would not have benefited a single student.

We have a costed proposal for the next General Election that will do away with tuition fees in England and Wales. We will also bring forward costed proposals in our Assembly manifesto. Neither will include cuts in health and education.

As for the 50p tax rate we will not be opposing that though we think the measures we are proposing would be a more effective redistribution mechanism and would involve everybody earning less than £100,000 a year being £700 better off.
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