Monday, 25 May 2015

WALES IS NOT A WESTMINSTER PRIORITY

The news that the £50 billion pound HS2 rail link will not be extended to Scotland, as the team behind the project has found there is “no business case” for the undertaking, does not surprise me. For sometime HS2 has been focused on reducing journey times from London to Birmingham to 49 minutes, before it splits into lines to Manchester and Leeds over two phases.


However, it was always hinted that HS2 would still ultimately reach Scotland, so commuters could travel from Glasgow and Edinburgh to London in three hours, against about four-and-a-half hours today. Back in 2009, when the then New Labour Transport secretary Lord Adonis launched, he claimed it would be “the union railway, uniting England and Scotland, north and south, richer and poorer parts of our country, sharing wealth and opportunity”.

Clearly these dreams and aspirations are no more. The announcement by the team behind the project means that HS2 will now not be extended to Scotland is of some importance, as it leaves leaves England as the only part of the UK set to benefit from the multi-billion pound development.

Any claim of a business case for HS2 that would benefit Wales have long been demolished by official KPMG figures which showed that the project would wipe millions from the Welsh economy each year. As HS2 is to be an England-only project then Welsh taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for a development set to be built entirely in England and to the detriment of the Welsh economy.

Plaid Cymru has led the campaign for Wales to receive a faire share of funding from HS2. Estimates show that this would bring in a vital £2-4bn that could be spent on revolutionising Welsh roads and railways, which are crying out for investment. HS2 must not be allowed to entrench inequality throughout the UK by concentrating investment on projects to benefit London and the South East while Scotland and Wales are ignored.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

MAKING OUR MARK


Today we really do have a unique opportunity, for far too long Wales has been neglected by Westminster – that historic neglect can cease on May 9th. Our country has never been nor ever will be a priority for the big establishment Westminster based parties who will always put London and their own vested interests first before the needs of Wales. The only way to make Wales matter after the election is to vote for Plaid Cymru - the Party of Wales. Plaid will use its influence in the hung parliament to get the very best deal possible for Wales and for all our communities. A YouGov poll recently showed that 78% of people think that Wales should get the same funding deal as Scotland – Plaid is the only party that can deliver this. Fair funding for Wales would mean an extra £1.2 billion a year, to spend on our hospitals, our schools and strengthening our economy. For those who haven't voted for Plaid Cymru before, lend your vote to Plaid tomorrow. We won't let you down. Together, Plaid can make Wales' voice heard in Westminster. Together, Plaid can make Wales work.


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

STANDING FIRM ON TTIP

On Europe Day (May 5th) Plaid Cymru’s leader Leanne Wood has warned that the controversial US-EU TTIP agreement risks opening up more areas of Wales’ public services to private competition. Leanne Wood said that the agreement could have a very detrimental impact on the good trade relationship between the EU and US.

The Party of Wales leader Leanne Wood said:

“The controversial TTIP agreement poses risks to us in Wales because it pledges to ‘future-proof’ the profits of corporations from government decisions. There is a particular threat to services where there is already non-government provision such as the care sector.

“Plaid Cymru wants to protect our public services, and opposing this TTIP clause that could cost millions of pounds for the Welsh Government in future is fundamental part of this. Unless we oppose these changes, the NHS and other key public services may find themselves at the mercy of greater interference from private multinationals.

“European trade agreements are important for Wales’ economy, and Plaid Cymru will work to boost trade and investment. But Plaid Cymru will always work to protect and invest in our public services.”

The Party of Wales’ Jill Evans MEP said:

“There are significant concerns in Wales that the trade deal being negotiated between the EU and the USA (TTIP) poses a real threat to public services. While European trade agreements are extremely important for Wales’ economy, Plaid Cymru will work to boost trade and investment, we have called for the talks to be suspended and for the impact on Wales to be assessed.

“The TTIP agreement poses a threat to the NHS and other key public services which may find themselves at the mercy of greater interference from private multinationals if the agreement remains as it is. Plaid Cymru will always work to protect and invest in our public services and we have therefore called for health services to be explicitly excluded from any trade agreement.”


Monday, 4 May 2015

OFFERING HOPE


At the end of the day it may come down to offering hope over fear. Disillusioned voters who have been let down after lending their votes to the Liberal Democrats at the last election, should back Plaid Cymru this time in the knowledge that the Party of Wales will always do what’s in the best interests of their communities. Leanne Wood said that people are rightly angry by the way the Liberal Democrats have let them down and said that Plaid Cymru’s vision chimes with many of their values.
Leanne Wood, the Party of Wales leader said:
“I know that many placed their faith in parties that did not keep their promises. People are still, rightfully angry, by the events of five years ago.
“There will be in all likelihood a hung parliament again this week. And to those who were disappointed by the outcome five years ago, I ask you not to despair but to consider which party, which candidate you can trust to do right for your community, for Wales, and on the issues that matter to you.”
She said:
“We are committed to social justice, to ending austerity, to closing the gap between richest and poorest, keeping public services in public hands, committed to free education for all.
“And to ending the Bedroom Tax introduced by the Tory-Lib Dem government.
“Plaid Cymru takes our obligations to the environment seriously.”
She concluded:
“We are an internationalist party, believing global cooperation can benefit all.
“That’s why we’ll fight hard to keep Wales in the European Union and why we want to see our country a promoter of conflict resolution and peace.
“And Plaid Cymru MPs will be the only ones from Wales who will never, ever support a new generation of nuclear weapons of mass destruction.
“The Party of Wales is part of a progressive alliance that has challenged the very foundations of the Westminster system.”

Sunday, 3 May 2015

A MULTI-NATIONAL WESTMINSTER

The emergence of distinct aspirations from the nations means the Westminster establishment must now adapt and modernize. Plaid Cymru - Party of Wales leader Leanne Wood has unveiled her party's three-point plan for a 'multi-national UK'.
Her three priorities for the 'multi-nationalisation' of the UK are:
   Parity of powers and resources for Wales with Scotland;
   The introduction of STV for elections to the House of Commons;
   A new UK Council of Ministers comprising the devolved governments and UK government to deliberate on UK-wide policy.
Party of Wales leader Leanne Wood said:
“This Westminster election is unprecedented in not simply being multi-party, but also multi-national, with Wales and Scotland a central feature due to our respective national parties.
“But we must ensure that the new multi-national nature of politics is not ended once the votes are cast; Westminster cannot go back to business as usual on 8th of May.
“The establishment must now respect the demands of the nations. For Wales, Plaid Cymru seeks parity of powers and resources for Wales with Scotland. That would end our third-rate devolution framework and an additional £1.2 billion a year for services and the economy in Wales.
“It is also time to deliver a democratic House of Commons. According to the Voter Power Index, the average voter in has only 0.3 votes. This is due to the archaic first-past-the-post system. The introduction of STV would lead to a House of Commons that reflects, proportionately, the democratic wishes of people everywhere.
“The sovereignty of Westminster has ended. Parliaments and assemblies across these islands are the democratically-elected national bodies and sovereignty now rests with people. The establishment must now recognise the realities of post-devolution UK and replace the talking shop that is the Joint Ministerial Committee with a UK Council of Ministers.
“This body could bring together the governments to deal with matters that affect communities and nations across the UK and should facilitate differences of opinion as well as fostering co-operation on matters of mutual interest.
“This election could potentially be the most exciting UK election in Wales. With a strong mandate for Plaid Cymru, we can win equality for Wales and a new politics for all.”

Saturday, 2 May 2015

INTEGRATING HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE

Streamlining the Health and Social Care system is a fundamental part of Plaid Cymru’s plans to stop delayed discharges of care from hospital. Plaid Cymru‘s plans to fully integrate Health and Social Care will also free up more resources that can be reinvested into community health service so that people can receive quality care as close to home as possible. Plaid Cymru has said that breaking down the barriers that exist between Health and Social Services will bring down waiting lists and strengthen the NHS.
Plaid Cymru’s Ceredigion candidate Mike Parker said:
“When Health and Social Care services work well together the patient gets the care and support they need as close to home as possible on every step of the way. 
"But at the moment the arbitrary borders that exist between services lead to delayed transfers of care, and a lack of community care means that often patients become emergency cases because they can’t access the care they need sooner.
“Social Care has historically been the poorer cousin of health and has lacked the same status. This has made it an easy target for cuts, but this has only led to more pressure on the health service.
“Plaid Cymru wants to break down these unnecessary barriers so that we can streamline the service and give patients the wraparound care they need. 

"By integrating Health and Social Care we can address these problems, free up more resources to invest in community health services and make sure that patients receive consistent care and support every step of the way.”

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A CHOICE OF WHOSE HAND IS IN THE TILL?

This election is about more than a cynical choice between which of the usual suspects will end up with theirs hand in the till. Austerity aside, one of the largely unspoken themes, at least by the Westminster based political parties; of this election campaign is the on-going problem of tax evasion. The HSBC foreign accounts scandal that broke back in February was merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the avoidance of paying tax.

The UK suffers from a Tax Gap; this is scandalous and goes to show how much the Westminster elite has completely disregarded any commitment towards fairness and social justice at a time of unprecedented cuts to public services. Beyond the tax evasion, the real problem is that the Westminster based political parties have been fundamentally compromised by the prolonged and unhealthily close relationship with the City.

We are where we are because of the cumulative effect of the legacy of 18 years of Conservative and 13 years of New Labour government. Over recent decades, successive Labour and Tory governments literally looked the other way, when it came to tax evasion, allowing the UK's tax gap to grow to an eye-watering £34 billion each year. Total fiscal consolidation over the course of this Parliament amounts to £120 billon pounds, which indicates the scale of the problem.

Labour can cry wolf until it goes horse over this scandal, but these lost billions are their legacy as much as the Tories'.  Back in 2005, the last Labour UK Westminster Government merged Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise and then proceeded to cut almost a third of jobs in five years (99,000 to 68,000).  They also slashed the budget for tackling the tax gap by nearly 50% (£3.6 billon to £1.9 billion) between 2006-10.

The weasel-like cop out of simply relying on ‘business as usual’ to fix the tax evasion issue is duplicitous at best – for all the hot air and the rhetoric from the usual suspects - expecting Westminster to fix the problem could at best be described as naive. We need to deal with Tax evasion with concerted worldwide action – the Swiss banks have crumbled in the face of court cases in the US (a few Swiss banks have even collapsed) in relation to tax avoidance by US citizens.

So if the USA can do it, then why not the UK – for one thing there is a lack of any great desire to do anything about it (hence Ed Ball’s telling silence). The UK’s Crown Dependency Tax havens are based in some of the few remaining (fiscally useful) scattered remnants of Empire lie at the dark heart of the tax evasion problem.

Plaid Cymru will not compromise on its commitment to tackling tax evasion. Vast sums of money that should have been collected properly and invested in vital public services such as health and education have been lost. Plaid Cymru, while the Westminster parties fall over themselves to appease the City bankers and their wealthy backers, puts Welsh communities first.