Sunday, September 13, 2009

Adam Price best ignored.

I take more than a passing interest in Plaid Cymru. In part, its because I calculate that if my party are to feature in a governing coalition in the National Assembly for Wales in the foreseeable future, there would have to be some arrangement between our two parties. Its simple logistics - unless there's some political revolution of course! So imagine how disappointed I was to read this report of Adam Price's speech at the Plaid Conference this weekend. The Western Mail's David Williamson rang me for a chat about it as well.

I cannot fathom the strategy at all. At the very time when I would have expected Plaid to seek to influence Conservative policy (in that we have a decent chance of soon becoming the British Government) Adam seems intend on fostering enmity. How on earth does he think that will help Wales? I suppose he thinks it might help Plaid Cymru. And what possible grounds does he have for his assertion that we represent a 'regressive right' as opposed to his 'progressive left'. Just empty rhetoric. Its probably his response to the reductions in public spending that will be needed to restore the broken economy that Labour will leave behind. Perhaps he's one of the few in Britain who agree with the current Prime Minister that there's a choice between 'Tory cuts' and 'Labour investment'. Let him read this excellent article by Frank Field in today's Telegraph. Or is Frank Field dismissed as another of the 'regressive right'? And I have no idea from where Adam Price has conjured up the idea that David Cameron is to launch a 'war on the poor'. The clothes he seeks to drape upon the Tories are a very poor fit. It can only be the economically illiterate that fail to see that its those who have wrecked the British finances who are responsible for what must be done to repair the damage.

I was also surprised by the highly personal nature of the attack on Nick Bourne, Leader of the Conservative Group in the National Assembly. Two years ago Plaid Cymru agreed a 'programme for Government' with the Conservatives, (led by the very same Nick Bourne) and the Lib Dems (led by Mike German). The 'Rainbow Coalition' would have come to pass, if the Lib Dems had not deserted Mike at the crucial moment. It was Adam Price who negotiated on behalf of Plaid Cymru. It seems that he would have been very unreliable to work with.

Normally, when my team is attacked, the hackles rise in anger, presaging vigorous retaliation. But I just feel a sense of sadness and disappointment. I thought Adam Price was a rather more astute politician. The aspect of this sort of attack that does anger me is the underlying assumption that Plaid Cymru and 'the left' have some sort of monopoly on a love of Wales and appreciation of what makes Wales special. In the crucible of the conference hall at Llandudno, it may be that the delegates managed to delude themselves about this. But despite the best efforts of Adam to will it otherwise, there is love of Wales on the right of politics as well. I do hope that Nick Bourne and his team in the National Assembly resist the temptation - and join me in a dismissive, sorrowful shrug of the shoulders, and move on quickly to something more constructive. Something which benefits Wales.

21 comments:

Plaid Spin said...

Glyn: if you are looking for a rational answer to Plaid’s ‘tactics’ – there is none. In (Welsh) government they have proved to be a grave disappointment and despite their appalling performance their leader Ieuan Wyn Jones comes out with some of the daftest Obama like spin on, e.g., the Welsh economy. Hasn't he figured out yet that there's a reason why Wales 'enjoys' a low GVA economy under his watch?

Wyn Hobson said...

Surely the tactical aim of the whole Plaid Cymru conference has been to try to persuade former Labour voters, particularly in the north-eastern and south-eastern counties, that Plaid Cymru is a safe pair of socialist hands, and that they can therefore safely vote Plaid in 2010?

Attacks on the Conservatives reinforce that message by drawing on old fears of a return of Thatcherism (which wreaked havoc in Wales, particularly during the mid-1980s and the Redwood era), and the old perception that the Conservatives are the principal Party of England in Wales -- a perception by no means confined to Welsh-speakers (though the label surely now properly belongs on UKIP).

aled g j said...

Glyn- The rationale is "Tough Love". Adam knows full well that Plaid will have to govern with the Tories in Wales post 2011. So, the tactic is to attack so that the Tories have to continue to "decontaminate" in a Welsh context, eg the demand that the party apologise for Tryweryn. Hopefully, the Tories can see this for what it is, and respond accordingly, i.e show their Welsh credentials and prove to the people of Wales that they can be trusted again.

Gyda llaw- llongyfarchiadau mawr ar ddysgu Cymraeg mor dda!

Penddu said...

Glyn - I wont try and justify APs comments in detail as others have already made a good job of this.

But what you saw was Plaid playing a very shrewd political game, as they manouvere themselves into a position where they can take votes and seats off Labour. Surely that is a strategy you can agree with???

Glyn Davies said...

Plaid Spin - I'd be surprised if Ieuan Wyn Jones would have approved of this speech.

Wyn - I'll accept that as logical - but its still short sighted. Labour tried this approach in Crewe and Nantwich, where it failed spectacularly.

Aled - Na. Dw i ddim yn credu. Mae disgrifio y Ceidwadwyr fel rhiw fath o 'fwgan' yn gwneaud pethau mwy annodd i barhau y 'decontamination process'. Dyna rheswm dw i isso fy mlaid anwybyddu araith Adam.

Penddu - I can see that, and I've done my own share of ankle biting of the years. Its a fine line not to avoid permanant damage, and I think Adam has misjudged it.

Sorry to refuse one comment, but I do try to ensure this blog steers clear of what should stay private. I'd have been tempted to approve your comment if it hadn't been anonymous.

kairdiff West Kid said...

"Hasn't he figured out yet that there's a reason why Wales 'enjoys' a low GVA economy under his watch?"

Er... can you remind us of Welsh GVA under 18 years of tory rule please?

That I'd really to to hear Mr Plaid Spin!

PS - while you're apologising, please can the tories also apologise for supporting apartheid? And for allowing their young conservatives to disport themselves at Party conferences in the 80s with 'Hang Nelson Mandela' badges?

Jeff Jones said...

The odds are that if you attempted a vox pop today in any town in Wales and asked the question which political party held a conference last weekend most people wouldn't have a clue. One of the problems with Adam Price's analysis is that he comes from the school of thought that somehow Welsh politics is different from the rest of the UK. As a result the aim for left wing members of Plaid is to replace Labour as the heir to the radical tradition in Wales. Unfortunately this ignores the real Wales which has always been much more complex politically than many on the Left are prepared to admit. Even in my constituency which has been Labour since 1918 there has been a hard core of about 7000 Tory voters. In the neighbouring constituency of Bridgend the majority of voters are anti Labour. Labour has won the seat since 1987 because the anti Labour majority is split. In most of Wales Plaid is an irrelevance. A recent analysis of the massive You Gov poll after the Euro election showed Plaid coming a poor fourth. In the Euro elections where you would have expected that Plaid would have done well on a low turn out the fourth MEP is from UKIP.Society is changing in Wales. Marx once argued that if you want to change the world you had to see it as it is. Too much of the comment on both the internet and from so called experts on Welsh politics does not reflect what is really happening on the ground. At the moment many Welsh voters are disillusioned with all politicians. Between 1997 and 2005 the Labour vote in Ogmore fell by 10000. They didn't go to other parties. They just stopped voting. As far as the Assembly is concerned there are probably only 4 possible scenarios for the future. A continuation of the present coalition, a new coalition of the non Labour parties, a Labour minority government or very unlikely a Labour majority government. Whoever runs the Assembly will have to take some very difficult decisions in an institution which doesn't raise directly any revenue and has very little room for manoeuvre. Who voters will blame for the inevitable cutbacks on public expenditure will have a real influence on voting patterns in the next few years. Plaid will obviously blame Westminster particularly if Cameron is in power. But this doesn't explain the massive cuts that local government are already looking at under the present settlement agreed by the one Wales coalition. Adam Price might be considered to be one of Plaid's intellectuals but he cannot foresee the future or predict how the majority who have played no part in the politics of Wales since 1999 will react. The real danger is that whilst those in the Cardiff Bay bubble conduct their own private debate the gap between real Wales and political Wales grows even greater.

Plaid still don't get it said...

The problem with Plaid is that they remain an immature party with AMs/MPs acting like they are still in college and engaged in student politics. Meanwhile Wales is bleeding jobs and future jobs under their watch. I have personally made the effort to speak to a high ranking Plaid AM to discuss the issue of lack of IP protection and got told that yes there is a problem but it was not “sexy enough”. Plaid have been in government some years now, and still have not taken the vital key steps in protecting Wales’s #1 asset for future Welsh job creation, instead they have overseen Wales’s #1 university drop 34 places in the world rankings.

Not sexy enough for Plaid said...

Jeff Jones> I was in Wales a few months ago and observed what you describe, two worlds.

In the Cardiff/WAG bubble is the funded political world, and the real Wales. I traveled to the valleys and took my Welsh mother to see her mother's cousins and it was plain to me that the two-world scenario you describe has become more acute.

Critical decisions that would help alleviate the two-Wales problem remain ignored because they are, in the eyes of Plaid, ‘not sexy enough’.

Penddu said...

Jeff - By most measures, Ogmore is one of the most traditional of Welsh Valley seats. But if you think that Labour are safe beacsue there is nowhere for the voters to go then you will be in for a nasty shock soon. Plaid have a strong foothold in Ogmore, but mainly in the Brynna area. But they have also been slowly picking up votes in Maesteg and elsewhere and they may soon reach critical mass where the non-Labour voters combine behind them them.

Not for the Westminster GE in 2010but could be in time for the Senedd in 2011

kairdiff West Kid said...

"Plaid have been in government some years now, and still have not taken the vital key steps in protecting Wales’s #1 asset for future Welsh job creation, instead they have overseen Wales’s #1 university drop 34 places in the world rankings."

Er... What? You don't know what you're talking about, Plaid have been in coalition for 2 years, and the education minister for the last 10 years has been Labour.

'I personally' this and 'I personally' that - if you're going to be pompous, be accurate, and be relevant.

As for the 2 worlds scenario, I too observed it - when I went to London to see my daughter: one UK full of very rich people, and one full of poor and ill-served people worried about their jobs and mortgages while tories and Labour suck up to the rich and try to better each other in that corrupt and opaque place , parliament

So, No Plaid Spin, your point is?

Dylan Jones-Evans said...

I hate to spoil the fantasy for those attacking Conservative economic policy yet again but but let’s look at the facts rather than the rhetoric.

If you examine the GVA data (which are available on Statistics Wales), these show that during the period 1989-1997, the Welsh economy grew by an average of 5.00 per cent, with the largest growth of 8 per cent shown between 1989 and 1990.

In contrast, the average growth in the Welsh economy in the period 1997-2007 was 4.4 per cent with the highest annual growth rate being 5.7 per cent between 2002 and 2003.

Therefore, despite the billions of pounds from Europe and the spending of the Labour Government, the prosperity of Wales was higher on average under the Conservative Governments of 1989-1997 that it has been under successive Labour administrations.

Glyn Davies said...

Kairdiff West Kid - Dylan has kindly provided figures for you below.

I also remember a Young Conservative in the 1970s being apprehended for urinating in public. Perhaps David Cameron should apologise for that as well!

Jeff - Personally, I always reckon the most likely form of Government in the Assembly is a Lib-Lab coalition - if the figures stack up. I accept that at present it does not look as if this is likely in 2011, but its too early to say just yet. Its difficult to predict how an election campaign will go if there is a Conservative Government at Westminster and Plaid are campaigning against Labour on the ground.

Dylan - Thanks. These are the sort of facts that tell us the real story.

Sweet and Tender Hooligan said...

Glyn,

That was the longest attempt at ignoring someone i have ever seen.

Marcus

Glyn Davies said...

Marcus - I meant it as advice to my Conservative colleagues. Don't know whether it played any part, but I've been pleased to see that there has been very little response. It would never be possible for this blog to ignore a Plaid Cymru strategy change to launching a full on attack on the Conservatives.

Sweet and Tender Hooligan said...

"Don't know whether it played any part, but I've been pleased to see that there has been very little response. "

I guess you dont read David Jones' delusional attempts then?

The fact stands, throughout history, the tories have been on the wrong side of the argument. They have with this economic crisis, which is born of the light touch regulation that your party at its inner being believes in.

Forget tactics, lets discuss the beef.

"They’ve been on the wrong side of every important argument in the last 300 years: the reform act, the welfare state, the NHS, apartheid, and now the NHS again."

As Billy Bragg once said. which side are you on?

Tcoah said...

KWK> Professor Dylan Jones-Evans has given you hard economic data.

As to Ieuan Wyn Jones time spent in government, this is Mr. Jones he puts it: “Two years on … big steps have been taken, such as helping universities to lead on research and development (R&D) …” ('WALESHOME.ORG' {sic}) .

Does Ieuan Wyn Jones understand that there is hardly any R&D of substance done on academic discoveries linked to those discoveries absent filing a decent patent.

It is like Ieuan Wyn Jones has no idea that absent IP protection there will be hardly any R&D done in Wales, so his talk is fluff.

If one compares the issued patent output of Welsh universities to universities in the Far East and enterprise communities outside Wales one sees a huge difference in terms of issued patents.

There are universities in former third world countries that are outperforming Welsh universities, including Wales’s #1 university in filing patents on its discoveries.

What policy does Plaid have to reverse this situation? What I hear is silly student level politics – e.g., who wore what badges in the 1980s. Who said so and so about Mandela.

Somebody from Plaid – please tell us what you are going to do to reverse this situation? Please don’t explain it in terms of student level politics or badges or some abstract ideology, just simple words directed to the issue please.

Anonymous said...

tcoah> No takers from Plaid Cymru. What a surprise.

kairdiff West Kid said...

Not quite the same thing Dylan, and as you know figures and facts, statistics and ordinary people's actual experience, are very different - unemployment in Wales and poverty in Wales shot up under the tories, and as you know full well, the results are still there, compounded by Labour's ineptitude over the last 12 years.
Second, I still hear no words from you on Tory governmental support for apartheid. What do you have to say to that, boys? Perhaps you may not want to excuse Hang Nelson Mabndela Tory party merchandise , but sure, you have to have a view on your party's policy when last in government?
Your party opposed the NHS, and the minimum wage, the latter also while in government.
Devolution too, well, up until it gave certain of you the chance to get into the Assembly ... If your opponents know their nionod they'll take the Adam Price line against you, which is clearly why you are 'ignoring' him by writing at length about him.

Anonymous said...

Sweet and Tender Hooligan said:

"They’ve been on the wrong side of every important argument in the last 300 years: the reform act, the welfare state, the NHS, apartheid, and now the NHS again."

Um - do the Conservatives own a time machine? Have they gone back and extended their party history by a 100 years? Please let me know as I will have to rewrite my history books.

THe modern Conservative Party dates from the early 19th century when the groups that had gathered round Pitt the Younger after his death joined together. Pitt called himself a Whig and in fact was on the progressive side of many issues of the day - in fact there was one occasion when both him and Fox the leader of the opposition voted to abolish the slavetrade and the bill was still defeated - a poignant reminder incidentally that independent non-party politics and politicians aren't always what they are sometimes cracked up to be.

To go back further to the pre-modern Tory party you find it came out of the legitimist opposition to attempts to bar James II from succeeding to the throne. With the Hanoverian succession it pretty much ceased to exist and became largely relevant (except as a theoretical reservoir of support for the Jacobites) and had dwindled to a small rump by mid century and pretty much become extinct by end of the 18th century. It's last real leader had been Harley who had served Queen Anne - his policies were anti-war and isolationist in regard to continental europe. He opposed a standing army, was for low taxes, little state expenditure and was keen on mercantile commerce - actually not very dissimilar to the views of his whig opponents. What separated the tories of the time was their view of the succession and to a lesser extent their wish not to be dragged into continental wars.

give me a W said...

Sweet and Tender Hooligan> except that we 'live in the now'.

Meaning Wales has problems in the 'now'.

Problems that need fixing rather than going back in time to what people said a century or whenever.

Wales has a shortage of well paid jobs for families in Wales.

Wales is bleeding jobs to the competition.

Wales is not patenting most of its IP.

Wales's top university has just dropped 34 places in the world rankings.

I am fundamentally a Labour person, but I have had to admit that Welsh Labour have not just dropped the ball, but lost the plot - hook, line and sinker.

If the Welsh Conservatives get in, they I hope they address the fundamental structural problems holding Wales back.

Holding Wales back from meeting Rhodri Morgan's goal of 90% of GVA (as a % of UK GVA average) - lest that is what I remember as one of his goals for Welsh Labour.

I only want Wales to do better - does it matter which delivers a better more prosperous Wales with fewer Welsh families under severe financial stress. A more dignified and settled Welsh society where Welsh youth can stay in Wales and get good paying work.

Looking back to see who was on what side of what argument or policy when the issues of the day are staring us in the face and lets be honest, Welsh Labour has dropped the ball. The Welsh Lib-Dems don't seem able to pick up the ball, Plaid are into who wore what badges or said what to who about Mandela of the 80s or whenever.

Right now, Wales needs JOBS - JOBS JOBS JOBS.

The real question: what party promises to do what it takes to deliver on Welsh jobs?

Which party is going to protect Wales's #1 asset? The mental output of its people. What party is going to deliver on indigenous Welsh industry? Nothing against incoming investment, but Wales needs more of its ideas generating jobs in Wales.