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Saturday, December 10, 2011

More fantasy politics from Plaid Cymru

Is this really the quality of debate we should expect from Plaid Cymru, now that their leadership contest is starting to splutter intio debate?

I know that Jonathan Edwards is not a candidate but his demand in today's Western Mail that the Welsh Government should be preparing for Scottish independence and putting forward a coherent vision for the nation’s constitutional future is certainly setting the tone for that contest.

It seems that the most successful candidate will be the one who can out-do the others in calling for separation from the rest of the UK, wrapping their ideology up in the fantasy of a positive Scottish referendum result which forces the break-up of the United Kingdom.

Now, I don't know what is going to happen in that referendum and nor does Jonathan Edwards, but I do know that the most urgent issues facing the Welshh Government today are the economy, an under-performing education system and the health service. Why would any sane minister take his or her eye off those problems to worry about esoteric constitutional issues that have not even presented themselves yet?

If this is the best Plaid Cymru can do then it is little wonder that they are drifting into political irrelevance.
Comments:
Hard to find a party worthy of voting for at the moment, all three seem to be heading for the Tories land of cuts, and cuts at the bottom
 
Have you not read John Kampnfer in the Independent today Peter?

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!
 
The last time I asked you some questions about the LibDems' policies regarding your topic, you ignored them and declined to publish.

You've raised the issue of Wales' constitutional status as a means of attacking another party.

You say that the pressing issue for Wales right now is the economy. That's been Wales' fundamental problem for generations.

Plaid and Jonathan Edwards are making the point that Wales' constitutional standing within the UK is the reason that it is such a poor country, and that its only hope of regeneration, ever, is to get out of rule from London, the city and region which has sucked the wealth and investment out of much of these islands for decades.

Just how are the LibDems proposing to lift Wales out of its status as one of the poorest regions of Europe?

Your party can't even prevent the UK from heading down the path of isolationism from the rest of the European continent. It will even keep Cameron and Osborne in power, and Clegg and Cable conveniently in ministerial cars in the cause of sorting out the economy.

However, the economy isn't being sorted, government borrowing is rising as is unemployment whilst growth is stagnating.

The truth is the LibDems have absolutely no credible policy for regenerating Wales. The best your party could do was to squeeze a measly £20m out of a mediocre Labour Government in order to get its budget through.

It's the Black pot pointing the finger at the kettle in your case.

It seems to me that it's Peter Black putting up coconuts which he can then knock down. If someone says 'cheat' or 'justify', he/she will be conveniently ignored as 'boring' or 'irrelevant'.

I can't see what the point is of having a blog in which the issues can't be honestly and openly discussed. But then, you are a professional politician, what else can we expect? Honesty maybe?
 
Oh dear, I do appear to have hit a nerve don't I. Whatever the views of John Kampnfer at least the Liberal Democrats are relevant and in government. The comment about glass houses is completely incomprehensible given that it is Plaid Cymru standing on the sidelines discussing which end to break open the boiled egg, whilst Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems are working to put right the economic mess we inherited from Labour.

maen_tramgwydd, if you continue to throw unsupported insults around in place of rational argument and wander off-topic then you will find many more of your comments unpublished. This is not a discussion forum and the comment rules are clear. If you want to ramble about your own obsessions you can always start your own blog.

As it happens I did not raise the issue of Wakes' constitutional status, Jonathan Edwards did and that is why I criticised him. Yes, the economy has been a problem in Wales for many years now and, surprise, surprise nothing changed when Plaid took on the economic ministry in the Assembly.

However, Jonathan Edwards' solution will not solve that, it will make it worse by virtually bankrupting the new Welsh Independent state. Quite simply we do not raise enough money in taxes to pay for what is spent by the public sector in Wales, nor can we raise more. We are too dependent on the public sector and we are not generating enough wealth to survive without a UK subsidy. Far from sucking wealth and investment out of Wales, London is subsidising us.

The Liberal Democrats are working in government to reduce the deficit that is crippling the UK economy and providing incentives to get more wealth generating businesses in Wales, but we cannot do it alone. We need the cooperation of the Welsh Government.

Yes, we got an extra £20m for investing in education, that is part of a long term strategy to equip the future Welsh workforce. But that is more than Plaid Cymru got. They were playing games with the Welsh budget and failing to recognise the financial reality facing us.

But the extra money for poorer pupils was not all we got. We also allocated £38.9m to key schemes to help boost the economy and will be involved in allocating a further £216m over the next three years. We have also extended the business rate relief scheme for a further six months until April 2013 and will be pressing for a further extension when the time comes.

As for being isolated in Europe I would be interested in your solution to this. The fact is we became isolated when we did not join the Euro. That created a two track Europe. Would you have really allowed Germany and France to dictate key decisions on the British economy?
 
The liberal party said it would are you not in the liberal party then....
 
Even the pro-European Liberal Democrats do not believe that we can join the Euro at present. And being a member of a party does not mean you have to sign up for every one of their policies.
 
I seriously disagree with Peter Black here.

"Yes, the economy has been a problem in Wales for many years now and, surprise, surprise nothing changed when Plaid took on the economic ministry in the Assembly."

Except they secured the Holtham Commission, the recommendations of which would seriously benefit Wales and the Welsh economy. Or is that constitutional dithering and thus "esoteric"?

"We also allocated £38.9m to key schemes to help boost the economy and will be involved in allocating a further £216m over the next three years"

These are Barnett consequentials. They are nothing to do with the Welsh budget allocations. My grandmother could have allocated them, because they are "free money". Using them to fool people that you've "secured" extra concessions is not on.

The real question is at a time of dramatic constitutional change, including change the Lib Dems are pushing at Westminster, why does one of their AMs believe constitutional issues are "esoteric"?

It's a very poor substitute for debate to just brand someone "irrelevant" or "on the sidelines" if you disagree with their views. I've probably done it in the past, but we are now in very important times for Wales and this kind of narrow tit-for-tat politics has to end.
 
Ramblings, I am not surprised that you disagree with me but if you think that an extra £300m as a result of Barnett reform will solve all Wales' economic problems then you are seriously deluded.

I am not opposed to constitutional reform where it is relevant and beneficial. What Jonathan Edwards is promoting is neither.

As for the £38.9m, all of the Welsh budget is a Barnett Consequential so I do not see how the investment of that extra money is any less significant or relevant. What is important is how it is invested. We could have insisted it be used to freeze Council Tax, but we didn't. Instead we insisted that it be used for investment that will create jobs.
 
"Ramblings, I am not surprised that you disagree with me but if you think that an extra £300m as a result of Barnett reform will solve all Wales' economic problems then you are seriously deluded."

Where did I say that? It is a classic way to avoid dealing with my argument, to basically claim I am "seriously deluded" on the basis of something I have never said. Poor form in my opinion.

"As for the £38.9m, all of the Welsh budget is a Barnett Consequential so I do not see how the investment of that extra money is any less significant or relevant. What is important is how it is invested. We could have insisted it be used to freeze Council Tax, but we didn't. Instead we insisted that it be used for investment that will create jobs."

Of course, but my point is that's the exact same usage Plaid wanted for the consequential, for example. Only the Tories wanted it used for a freeze, which is why it is very unlikely Labour would have used it for that purpose. In fact Carwyn Jones said he intended to use it for economic stimulus from the outset.

What this debate should really get at is to what extent are constitutional issues really "esoteric"? I think they are in fact the cornerstone of permitting what a Welsh Government is or is not allowed to do. How is that "esoteric" or "irrelevant"?
 
You said that Plaid Cymru "secured the Holtham Commission, the recommendations of which would seriously benefit Wales and the Welsh economy." which is much the same thing.

Plaid may or may not have spent the £38.9m the same way but that does not get away from the fact that it amounts to an economic stimulus nor that Plaid's demands were unaffordable and undeliverable. We also by the way extended the business rate relief scheme.

Constitutional issues are important but whether they are a cornerstone or not really depends on their impact. In my judgement Jonathan Edwards' proposals would be damaging and unnecessary and that is why I consider them to be an irrelevant distraction.
 
Not really, Peter. A "serious benefit to Wales and therefore the Welsh economy" is quite a qualified statement compared to your sweeping allegation that I said we could "solving all of Wales' economic problems".

The reality here is that our discussion on the constitution has drifted now into an economic debate, with talk of stimulus and so on.

This demonstrates surely that the two questions are inseparably linked, and that it is not an "esoteric" matter at all.

We can "concentrate on the economy" until the cows come home but it won't make a difference if we don't have Welsh hands on the necessary levers.

Even today there is a story where a Lib Dem, Danny Alexander, in Scotland is raising constitutional issues with reference to how they affect the economy. I don't see how it is "esoteric" to desire a debate on these things in Wales. I think the Welsh Lib Dems have a seriously inward focus on playing with tiny sums of money here and there and not focusing on the changing British Isles situation, or perhaps seeing yourselves as not being important enough to have an opinion on that.
 
But I do have an opinion and I have expressed it here. The idea that we should pre-empt a referendum that has not even been announced yet and plan for an outcome that is uncertain is madness in my view. This is especially so as that referendum will not be the final word on the matter.

I am all for discussing constitutional issues but Jonathan Edwards is proposing that we redirect the programme for government to respond to the unknown. That is why I think he and his views are an irrelevance and why I think that any political party adopting this stance in the current economic climate are marginalising themselves.
 
".....Plaid Cymru standing on the sidelines discussing which end to break open the boiled egg..."

Classic Peter Black!
 
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