Letter from Wales: Understanding the threat from Plaid

by Julian Ruck

The Welsh Labour government has 30 seats in the Assembly, with the opposition parties holding the other 30. Its grip on the electorate is as firm as the arthritic hands of an ageing amateur golfer. It will only take one of the opposition parties to clobber another seat in the Welsh Assembly for old Labour torpor, towering complacency and democratic violation to be nobbled once and for all.

Red water no longer comes into it, neither indeed does a thin red line of political obstinacy.

Old Welsh Labour is out of ideas, out of imagination and most certainly out of touch. This may have something to do with Carwyn’s honourable escape from the insecure financial vicissitudes of the Bar, to the less frenetic and undoubtedly more salubrious corridors of the Cardiff university madrassa – those who can’t, teach perhaps? Either way, lawyers are hardly renowned for creative energy and innovative thinking, albeit that Parliament is awash them. Well trained and sophisticated impudence and slyness may well have something to do with this.

Last week I interviewed Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru in the Welsh Assembly. A Valleys girl to her core, with the sense of humour to match. It was a straight, no nonsense and honest interview, which is a damn sight more than can said for Welsh government ministers and their apparatchiks.

I had trouble getting a word in, that’s a Valleys girl for you but let’s not hold this against her. The lady did come up with a policy that even I have to admit, is both laudable and well thought out – Ruck agreeing with Plaid? Yes I know, but indulge me for a moment or two.

Currently, the Welsh public sector spends £4.3 billion procuring goods and services from the private sector. Only 52% of this is spent in Wales (this is up from 35% in 2003). Plaid believes that this figure should be more like 75%, a figure based on Value Wales’ calculations that every 1% increase accounts for 2000 new jobs; this would create 46,000 new jobs in the Welsh private sector and note, not an edge of nationalisation in sight.

A worthy policy by anyone’s standards I think you will agree, and certainly one that would boost a Welsh economy that is in dire need of dumping its obsessive public sector dependency.

Ms Wood also insisted that ‘the focus for the Welsh economy must be on skills and infrastructure. Last year Plaid negotiated a budget deal with the Welsh government to provide an initial £20 million pa for two years in order to provide high skill apprenticeship places.” Once again, little to argue with here.

Having explored the economic woes of Wales and not being a pupil of the Adrian Masters or Huw Edwards school of soppy and deferential  interview technique, I went straight for the Plaid political jugular, and was duly disappointed!

On the question of Welsh independence and Plaid’s reputation for being the ‘Home Rule Army of Wales,’ Leanne Wood was clear and unequivocal. She stated without pause, “Plaid’s aim is to achieve an independent Wales but not for the sake of it.” A hint here of real politik, for once? This response certainly took the wind out of my objectionable sails, just when I was looking forward to a gloves off free for all, so all credit to Plaid’s leader.

The point therefore must be this: If Plaid treads more gently on the independence front, it will I have no doubt, garner greater support from the Welsh electorate in the long run. A moderating of its historical raison d’etre will I believe reap dividends at the ballot box but more importantly, it may well have the power within its grasp to haul old Welsh Labour into the social democratic  21st Century and make Ed finally realise that he can no longer take Wales for granted.

Julian Ruck is an author, journalist and columnist. He also makes contributions to both Welsh and national broadcasting and media. 

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13 Responses to “Letter from Wales: Understanding the threat from Plaid”

  1. John says:

    http://johnabell.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/julian-ruck-comic-creation-par.html I still cannot understand how this man gets taken seriously. Growing illiteracy helps his cause, his novels wouldn’t pass a gcse , if they aren’t plagiarised to begin with.

  2. swatantra says:

    Sometimes the unthinkable does happen. Could Wales accidently produce a Tory led Coalition. That should shake Labour out of its complacency! It happened in Scotland, where power was gradually stripped away in stages.

  3. Mr Akira Origami says:

    As Wales moves incrementally towards Devo-Max or beyond ( if the people of Wales vote for tax raising powers) who will the electorate trust with the economy?

    Will a vote for tax raising powers change the political philosophy of the people of Wales?

    With the possibility of hand outs from Westminster ceasing and the Welsh people becoming more reliant on the Senate in Cardiff Bay, who will be the party of a prosperous and stable economy.

    One thing is for certain, the people of Wales will have their last say in the referendum to affect the future of Welsh politics.

    What do the people of Wales think?

    Better together or better separate?

    Whatever……let’s hope the people of Wales mange to get off their sofas in the next up and coming referendum and improve on the 35.2% turnout in the last referendum of 3rd March 2011 which extended law-making powers of the Welsh Assembly.

  4. Tafia says:

    Leanne Wood is Labour’s worst nightmare in Wales and destroys their portrayal of Plaid. A woman, from South Wales, and not a Welsh speaker (although she is learning). Everything Labour say Plaid isn’t.

  5. TAFIA

    As to be expected a biased viewpoint of a Welsh woman politician from one of, ‘yesterday’s men.’

    So now in Wales is, “speaking Welsh ” to be the only skill required for a government position?

    She at last her opinions are informed by her experience of life at the, sharp end.’

  6. uglyfatbloke says:

    Scotland did n’t produce a tory-anything coalition, though if the last Holyrood election had been a bit better for Labour and a bit worse for the gnats there might have been a Labour/Tory coalition in Edinburgh with Ian Gray as FM and Annabelle Goldie as his deputy.

  7. Tafia says:

    Brightmore you are an idiot. In Wales for decades Labour has banged on that Plaid Cymru are a party of old men from the north west obsessed with the Welsh language.

    Leanne Wood blows holes in that and it has screwed them up royally. Plaid Cymru absolutely thrashed Labour in both the full County Council elections and the Assembly by-election on Anglesey earlier this year with a huge swing from Labour to Plaid, on good turn-outs as well. Such is the impact of Leanne Wood that even English people on Anglesey were voting Plaid in large numbers.

  8. Owain ap Arddedig says:

    “Leanne’s political interests include the environment; poverty, unemployment and social justice.”


    When the valleys of South Wales is a predominantly English speaking area and has chronic unemployment, shouldn’t Leanne Wood be speaking up about the barriers being placed on people struggling to get employment. People in Wales have enough of a struggle getting an education. They don’t need barriers put in front of them by a minority elite.

    Leanne Wood is a traitor to her community – the Valleys will never vote plaid Cymru.

    It is a utter shame that not one of the parties in the Assembly speaks up for the majority.

    Wales needs a new party in the Assembly, one that stands up for the rights of the majority people.

  9. dave says:

    Gillian, in your appallingly-written and ungrammatical, not to mention ill-punctuated, comment above, can you show us exactly where Tafia claims, as you ineptly assert, that ‘So now in Wales is, “speaking Welsh ” to be the only skill required for a government position?’

    I am amazed that the Welsh arts council gave you a grant for writing. I hope you give it back soon.

  10. John says:

    Gill Brightmore. I’ve never read anything as bafflingly incoherent as your above comment.

    If you keep trying to offer writing tuition someone will inevitably get in touch with trading standards.

    It seems there is a writer in Wales who is worse than Julian Ruck. I’m astonished.

  11. dave says:

    “Leanne Wood is a traitor to her community”

    what sort of tribalist lunacy is this? A traitor to a community?

    Look Owain: Labour have been in power in the Valleys for most of the 10th century, and at MP level for the same amount of time, and at council level. They’ve run the Assembly since its inception, and we’ve had 12 years of Labour govt at Westminster and 14 at Senedd level. If you’re asking who the traitors are, you need to ask yourself why the places that have most loyally voted Labour are the places – surprise surprise – have got poorer, unhealthier and worst off.

    The are 2 answers, I’m not sure which is worse: Labour don;t care, or Labour do care and are inept.

    Either way it’s time for a new government, and it’s time to get Labour to stop taking the south of Wales for granted. It’s got us nowhere, except downwards. Meanwhile, Labour MPs voted for war, tuition fees, privatisation of hospitals and anti-immigration garbage politics to please the tabloids and make Labour safe for the south of england tory voters. Labour AMs did as they were told and went along with a devolution settlement that sees Wales as producing lobby-fodder for Nu Labour elitists.

    Any country with a modicum of self confidence would have got rid of this lot.

  12. dave says:

    Correction, I meant 20th, not 10th, century – though sometimes with Welsh Labour it’s hard to tell.
    ‘Traitor to a community’ indeed: playground politics from an anonymous anti-Welsh barrel-scraper more like.

  13. john & dave
    [ I am deliberately not using capital letters above ]

    Do have a nice day…


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