Archive for December, 2011

Plaid Cymru”s leadership battle

They’re all now in the paddock ready for the off in January. No, not the horses for Welsh Grand National but the candidates in the race to take over from Ieuan Wyn Jones as leader of Plaid Cymru. 

Four candidates have now declared themselves in the race. The first to indicate he was standing was Dafydd Elis-Thomas. Who was leader of the party when an MP and until May’s election was the Presiding Officer of National Assembly. He know chairs the influential Environmental and Sustainability committee of the Assembly.

Dafydd Elis-Thomas argues that Plaid needs to strategically position itself clearly as a left-of-centre alternative to Labour and is confident this would lead to electoral gain. He said: ‘In my view there is nowhere else to live comfortably within Welsh politics.’  

On the vex question of independence, he maintains ‘Constitutional independence is a mirage. It’s virtual politics, it’s not real politics. The important thing for Wales is to make itself economically, environmentally and politically sustainable. 

He goes on to say ‘I was happy to talk about self government and self determination but independence is something I found ethically incompatitable I am a Welsh European first and foremost.’

Elin Jones declared her candidature in September and has being campaigning hard since then.  Describing her political philosophy, she says ‘Had I lived in any other country in the world, I would still have been a republican and a socialist. But as a Welsh citizen, then I am also a Welsh nationalist.’

On independence she sees ‘a new chapter is opening for Plaid Cymru. Our task is to strengthen our country’s autonomy and economy, and to make the case to the people of Wales that our nation is better served by independence than dependence.’  

Simon Thomas  takes a more pragmatic line on independence ‘I support independence as the constitutional aim for Plaid Cymru and our nation. But independence in not the answer to today’s immediate problems and focusing on arguing about it only encourages the voters to assume we are not addressing their daily difficulties.

‘But Plaid doesn’t just exist for the sake of Wales’ constitutional future. We exist to fight for and deliver fairness in social and economic policy. I believe in a mixed economy – I think Plaid Cymru should be concerned that the private sector is not as strong or successful as it could be. But Plaid Cymru should never be laissez faire about the impact of global capital on our communities. Regulating business for environmental and social benefit is a core value of the party I want to lead. The prize for Plaid is to marry our national ambition with a proper concern for the long term future of our planet. We live in a comparably well off society. ‘

Leanne Wood who’s candidature was announced yesterday,describes her personal philosophy been honed in the Rhondda Valley which instilled in her ‘my love of Wales, my socialism and my republicanism.’

She is the only one of the candidates who is not a Welsh-speaker but is very much seen as the candidate of the left. She feels Plaid should push a lot harder for independence ‘securing independence for Wales is so vital. I am not talking of independence for the sake of independence; I want independence so we can protect and build on those things that are valuable to us all. We campaign for ‘real independence’ in Raymond Williams’ words ’“ independence of thought, as well as constitutional freedom: independence to enable us to develop economic equality; to free us to argue for peace in the world instead of war; to allow us to build on our internationalist traditions by contributing to world affairs while ensuring a vibrant future for our unique language and culture.’

So there we have it, the four likely candidates. Who ever gets the prize will have an up hill struggle to win back the ground tthe party has lost in recent elections. 

They are now the third party in the Assembly behind the Conservatives. Politically, Plaid Cymru has chosen to describe and position itself as a left of centre party. In so doing it has allowed the Conservatives to make inroads into the non-Labour vote and in a good year  Labour mops up the left vote.  Plaid Cymru tend to do well only when Labour governs in Westminster then and only then do Plaid collect the floating protest vote of the left. 

If the Party decided to pitch for the central social democratic vote it might have a chance to capture the non-Labour vote. It could then gain some of the ground that has been so successfully cultivated by Welsh Conservatives  and also some of those disaffected Liberal Democrat voters.

Looking at the four candidates, three of them do not have any ambitions to move the party to a new political terrain, they are quite happy to continue to fight the same turf war with Labour for the ‘left’ vote. It is only Simon Thomas the declares a more social democratic aspiration and could creditably move the party to the centre ground.

Independence will undoubtedly move central stage in politics in the next few years. Not because of Plaid Cymru, but because of the promised referendum on the issue in Scotland. David Cameron promises to fight for the Union. It will be a ding dong battle about the very nature of the United Kingdom and the relationship between its countries. Plaid Cymru will need to be ready for the debate and have a clear position.  Dafydd Elis-Thomas and to a lesser extent Simon Thomas’s views are more ambiguous on the issue than the two other candidates. 

So who will emerge the victor? Internal party elections are always difficult to predict, after all who would have thought that the younger Milliband brother would have succeeded. 

At the moment Elin Jones would seem to be the favourite, she has done all the running and has certainly increased her profile of late. But as they say, a week is a long time in politics and a campaign is even longer. And as is well know a front runner can often become a cropper.

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Plaid Cymru"s leadership battle

They’re all now in the paddock ready for the off in January. No, not the horses for Welsh Grand National but the candidates in the race to take over from Ieuan Wyn Jones as leader of Plaid Cymru.

Four candidates have now declared themselves in the race. The first to indicate he was standing was Dafydd Elis-Thomas. Who was leader of the party when an MP and until May’s election was the Presiding Officer of National Assembly. He know chairs the influential Environmental and Sustainability committee of the Assembly.

Dafydd Elis-Thomas argues that Plaid needs to strategically position itself clearly as a left-of-centre alternative to Labour and is confident this would lead to electoral gain. He said: ‘In my view there is nowhere else to live comfortably within Welsh politics.’

On the vex question of independence, he maintains ‘Constitutional independence is a mirage. It’s virtual politics, it’s not real politics. The important thing for Wales is to make itself economically, environmentally and politically sustainable.

He goes on to say ‘I was happy to talk about self government and self determination but independence is something I found ethically incompatitable I am a Welsh European first and foremost.’

Elin Jones declared her candidature in September and has being campaigning hard since then. Describing her political philosophy, she says ‘Had I lived in any other country in the world, I would still have been a republican and a socialist. But as a Welsh citizen, then I am also a Welsh nationalist.’

On independence she sees ‘a new chapter is opening for Plaid Cymru. Our task is to strengthen our country’s autonomy and economy, and to make the case to the people of Wales that our nation is better served by independence than dependence.’

Simon Thomas takes a more pragmatic line on independence ‘I support independence as the constitutional aim for Plaid Cymru and our nation. But independence in not the answer to today’s immediate problems and focusing on arguing about it only encourages the voters to assume we are not addressing their daily difficulties.

‘But Plaid doesn’t just exist for the sake of Wales’ constitutional future. We exist to fight for and deliver fairness in social and economic policy. I believe in a mixed economy – I think Plaid Cymru should be concerned that the private sector is not as strong or successful as it could be. But Plaid Cymru should never be laissez faire about the impact of global capital on our communities. Regulating business for environmental and social benefit is a core value of the party I want to lead. The prize for Plaid is to marry our national ambition with a proper concern for the long term future of our planet. We live in a comparably well off society. ‘

Leanne Wood who’s candidature was announced yesterday,describes her personal philosophy been honed in the Rhondda Valley which instilled in her ‘my love of Wales, my socialism and my republicanism.’

She is the only one of the candidates who is not a Welsh-speaker but is very much seen as the candidate of the left. She feels Plaid should push a lot harder for independence ‘securing independence for Wales is so vital. I am not talking of independence for the sake of independence; I want independence so we can protect and build on those things that are valuable to us all. We campaign for ‘real independence’ in Raymond Williams’ words ’“ independence of thought, as well as constitutional freedom: independence to enable us to develop economic equality; to free us to argue for peace in the world instead of war; to allow us to build on our internationalist traditions by contributing to world affairs while ensuring a vibrant future for our unique language and culture.’

So there we have it, the four likely candidates. Who ever gets the prize will have an up hill struggle to win back the ground tthe party has lost in recent elections.

They are now the third party in the Assembly behind the Conservatives. Politically, Plaid Cymru has chosen to describe and position itself as a left of centre party. In so doing it has allowed the Conservatives to make inroads into the non-Labour vote and in a good year Labour mops up the left vote. Plaid Cymru tend to do well only when Labour governs in Westminster then and only then do Plaid collect the floating protest vote of the left.

If the Party decided to pitch for the central social democratic vote it might have a chance to capture the non-Labour vote. It could then gain some of the ground that has been so successfully cultivated by Welsh Conservatives and also some of those disaffected Liberal Democrat voters.

Looking at the four candidates, three of them do not have any ambitions to move the party to a new political terrain, they are quite happy to continue to fight the same turf war with Labour for the ‘left’ vote. It is only Simon Thomas the declares a more social democratic aspiration and could creditably move the party to the centre ground.

Independence will undoubtedly move central stage in politics in the next few years. Not because of Plaid Cymru, but because of the promised referendum on the issue in Scotland. David Cameron promises to fight for the Union. It will be a ding dong battle about the very nature of the United Kingdom and the relationship between its countries. Plaid Cymru will need to be ready for the debate and have a clear position. Dafydd Elis-Thomas and to a lesser extent Simon Thomas’s views are more ambiguous on the issue than the two other candidates.

So who will emerge the victor? Internal party elections are always difficult to predict, after all who would have thought that the younger Milliband brother would have succeeded.

At the moment Elin Jones would seem to be the favourite, she has done all the running and has certainly increased her profile of late. But as they say, a week is a long time in politics and a campaign is even longer. And as is well know a front runner can often become a cropper.

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Latest Unemployment figures

The UK unemployment figures just released by the Office for National Statistics(ONS) show an increase to 128,000 since October.

In this pre-Christmas period the figures will not lighten the mood within a coalition government that is already under strain after the EU debacle.

The figure of those unemployed now stands at 2.64 million. This is the highest level since 1994. The jobless rate is up to 8.3% from the 7.9% of the previous quarter.

The number of people out of work for longer than a year rose by 19,000 in the latest quarter to 868,000, the worst figure since 1996.

The figures for Wales also show a rise of 8.3% with the figures now having climbed to 130,000 unemployed between August and October an increase of 10,000 on the previous quarter.

Both young people and women have been particularly hard hit. Unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds increased by 54,000 to 1.027 million, the highest since records began in 1992.

The Office for National Statistics also reported that women’s unemployment increased by 45,000 to 1.1 million, the highest figure since 1988.

The figures also show that much of the increase are from jobs that have been cut from the public sector. In the sector 67,000 jobs were lost. Clearly the private sector is not compensating for these losses, the sector added only 5,000 jobs in the same period.

Even those in work are feeling the pinch. Wages continued to rise well below the rate of inflation. Excluding bonuses, average pay rose 1.8% from a year ago, and by just 0.1% from three months ago. But with inflation running at 4.8% many are facing serious cuts to their income.

Country

Total Unemployed

Quarterly change

Unemployment rate

England

2,217,000

plus 97,000

8.5%

N Ireland

60,000

minus 4,000

6.9%

Scotland

229,000

plus 25,000

8.5%

Wales

133,000

plus 11,000

9.1%

Again of the four countries of the Union, Wales is hardest hit, the other countries seeing a smaller increase in the unemployment rate with Northern Ireland seeing a decrease.

The figures again point to the need for the government in Wales to push a great deal harder on its economic renewal programme. It also validates the stance that Plaid Cymru took over the budget when it pressed for more resources to be pushed towards the economy.

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