Archive for Plaid Cymru

A fair party debate?

On ‘The Politics Show’ on Sunday UKIP Leader Nigel Farage believed that UKIP deserved a place in any General Election leadership debate. According to Iain Dale, both Farage and Alex Salmond (SNP leader and Scotland’s First Minister), are contemplating legal action in order to recieving a platform.

Farage believe’s that because UKIP were the second party from June’s European Elections he deserved a platform alongside Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Dale’s argument is that because UKIP are not represented at every level across the UK and in every region then they do not deserve a place amongst the big three.

I believe there is a fairer alternative. The BBC have the good graces of having regional stations and regional programmes, such as the ‘Politics Show South East.’ In the interests of fairness- and plurality- would it not make sense for party debates (not necessarily with leaders) to be televised amongst the constituents in a region where a party has representation either at Westminster, in the European Parliament or either in the Scottish Parliament or Welsh Assembly? I think it would.

I am aware that this system would give a platform to the BNP, however it looks certain that the BBC will go ahead with their ‘Question Time’ panel with Nick Griffin. It would also mean that Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Greens (both in England and Wales and in Scotland) can go head-to-head with their political rivals. Whilst it is by no means a perfect system as it grants a platform to the BNP, it is fair from a liberal democratic perspective. It also means that genuine progressives such as the Greens, Plaid and to some extent the SNP can have a platform in front of their constituents without sharing it with the BNP. Thus avoiding being clumped in the same camp of ‘others’ along with the far-right organisation.

It also means that people can protest in any way they want against the BNP having a platform, and I fully support this right of protest from anyone who disagrees with anti-democratic organisations being granted a platform. So, whilst I believe the state cannot intervene to prevent the BNP having a platform, I believe members of the public can, and that the state should not intervene in preventing members of the public from doing so. It is a balancing act but one where by which the state should remain blind, after all, it is the actions of the state that create the conditions for far-right tendencies to simmer and then boil.

Now you can’t say that isn’t fair.


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Adam Price to stand down

Adam Price, the popular progressive Plaid Cymru MP for Camarthen East and Dinefwr, is to stand down at the next General Election.

In recent week’s Adam has been making his voice heard in his own quarters and elsewhere on the need to resist cuts in public spending. He has been a verocious champion for progressive causes and working people, and will remain an influential voice in Welsh politics and the progressive agenda for Wales. His departure from Westminster will be sadly missed by his admirers, both in Wales and elsewhere.

However this is by no means an end to Adam’s political career for he intends to stand in the Welsh Assembly elections in 2011.

He will be spending the next year on a Fulbright Scholarship in the US to study devolution and economic development at a top graduate school.

On the face of it Adam’s decision could be seen as being left until a bit late in the game, but I am sure he has judged correctly following a positive Plaid conference last weekend.

However, Adam’s year away in the US might scupper his chances of finding a decent safe seat. Camarthen East and Dinefwr’s current AM, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, has said he has no intention of stepping down. As of yet there has been no comment from any existing AMs on their intention to stand for Adam’s Westminster seat.

I would like to wish Adam the best of luck in his future endeavours, particularly his aspirations for entering the Assembly in 2011.

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A Plaid-Green Alliance?

Such a thing has been blogged on before, Adam Price, the Plaid Cymru MP for Camarthen East and Dinefwr, has made calls as recently as June in the wake of the Tories topping the European Election poll in Wales. Whilst Plaid sits with Labour in the Welsh Assembly, this is something that some Plaid members are perhaps uneasy about, despite the ‘One Wales’ Government’s relative success in rebuffing the recession from hitting Wales hard.

Jim Jepps, who posts over at The Daily (Maybe), took to the Green Party’s Autumn Conference a motion that would have lifted the ban on Greens entering joint-lists with other parties in PR elections, unfortunately this was dropped from the agenda due to time constraints but I hope to see it come back to Spring Conference in February.

Whilst I am not a member of the Welsh Green Party, and any decision to enter into a formal alliance with Plaid Cymru or any other progressive force at the next Welsh Assembly elections in 2011 is the sole decision of the Green Party in Wales, I will spend the next few months to encourage a consensus in the Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) that a coalition with Plaid is a necessity to resist the forces of reaction, be it from the Tories, UKIP, or heavens forbid, the BNP. As Adam Price has said, now is the time for a new plural politics of the progressive left.

Progressives in Wales have to take the fight to the forces of conservatism and right-wing populism. They have to take the political fight and the ideological one. In June’s European Elections Plaid came third in Wales with 126,702 votes or 18.5%, around 2% off from topping the poll there. The Greens took 38,160 votes, just narrowly beating the BNP, and increasing the vote by 2% to take 5.6% of the total vote to the BNP’s 5.4%. The combined Plaid and Green vote- 164,862- would have been enough to top the poll in Wales and perhaps deprive UKIP of the fourth seat and their first ever breakthrough in Wales. Before the election Plaid Cymru’s National Executive gave it’s blessing for the Greens to be approached to form a joint-list for the European Elections, however, because of the party’s ban on joint lists with other parties, the Welsh Green Party had no choice but to decline the offer. Had we formed a joint list with Plaid Cymru in Wales, and perhaps Mebyon Kernow in the South West, the Greens could have returned four MEPs rather than the two that they did. For the sake of Welsh national aspirations, and for progressive politics everywhere, the Greens must devote full attention post-General Election to working with Plaid and other forces to ensure that progressive Welsh voters have a clear choice in 2011: Progress or Reaction.

I am not in a position to suggest either the mechanics or policy aspects of such an alliance, but on the important issues regarding public services, a commitment to challenging climate change and an inclusive and tolerant Wales, Plaid Cymru and the Greens are in agreement. I would like to see Jim’s motion go to Spring Conference and supported by a fringe event with one or two Plaid representatives on a panel along with members from the Green Party in Wales on the theme of exploring co-operation between the two parties in Wales and how an alliance would look.

There is no room for complacency, a Tory victory in Wales in 2011 would be a set back for progressive politics everywhere, and would set Welsh national aspirations back for atleast a decade. Co-operation is a necessity.


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