“Plaid?” you ask puzzled. “What on earth does that mean?”
“It means Party,” I reply, tired to be saying this for the millionth time. “Plaid Cymru; the Party of Wales.”
“Why’s it in Welsh?” comes the immediate response, and so begins the long, protracted, and oft-repeated discussion about the Welsh language. I do have to wonder why. Why must every discussion about our party be reduced to this single issue? Why is there such a willful ignorance of everything else we stand for? I, after all, passionate as I am about the survival of the Welsh language, and hard as I might try to learn it, am, and will always remain, a native speaker of English. Yet it seems that our belief in the protection of the last small vestige of unbroken British tradition to predate the Romans is so controversial for some, that they are willing to overlook everything else we say in favour of debating this single point. It’s not that individuals can be blamed for this of course; both our political rivals and the media play to the same tired stereotype; yes, we were founded as a language party in 1925, but we have changed beyond recognition since the days of Plaid “Genedlaethol” Cymru. The fact is, the Welsh language argument is pushed because people are scared of allowing our party’s wider message to be heard; so perhaps allow me to share it with you.
To cut straight to the basics; Plaid Cymru is a socialist party. There will be those that try and portray us as closet Tories, but these people clearly haven’t set eyes on the party constitution (specifically, Clause II of the Party Aims and Objectives.) From free universal social care at the point of service to a £35 a week child payment for the poorest families, our policies have never shied away from our left-wing values. We are not a “centre-ground” nor a “Tory-lite.” “Labour is the leading socialist party though!” you may decry. Whilst that may to some extent be true, it is worth qualifying that Plaid Cymru is a decentralist socialist party, in contrast to Labour’s brand of old-style trade unionism. The power of communities to make their own decisions has always been central to our party’s aims. Even if the case might be made for Labour in theory, their twenty years overseeing managed decline in Wales post-devolution, and one hundred years of political dominance in the nation, have proven beyond a doubt that they are utterly unfit the help us.
The truth is, the old mantra of “vote Labour to keep the Tories out” simply doesn’t work. In the last one hundred years, Wales has returned a majority of Labour MPs in every election, and yet for the majority of those years, has been represented by a Conservative government. In fact, even if Labour take power, the outdated First-Past-the-Post democracy in the UK ensures that the political pendulum will almost inevitably swing back to the right. Plaid Cymru offers the only true solution to ending Tory rule in Wales for the foreseeable future, an aim any good socialist should share and yet which revolts so much of the Labour Party; that solution is independence.
Plaid Cymru can be summed up by a belief in three core principles; economic prosperity, cultural prosperity, and self-government. It is upon these foundations that we seek to build a fairer, safer, more welcoming and more confident nation for our people. These are values that we believe the majority in Wales share. We simply struggle to convince them in the face of the overshadowing and manufactured “language issue” and the political fads of the day, that it is something we can deliver.
Yet Plaid outdoes almost every other self-proclaimed “progressive” party on everything it claims to do best. Take the Greens, for example. The fact is that in both the UK and EU Parliaments, independent reviews by climate experts have found Plaid Cymru to have a superior climate record. Plaid is greener than the Greens. Take the Liberal Democrats as another example; their shift to supporting the revocation of Article 50 without qualification is neither particularly liberal nor democratic. Plaid on the other hand recognises that as Wales’ leading party of Remain, it is vital that a People’s Vote sees a Remain victory if we wish to stop Brexit. I’ve already discussed the weakness of Labour; from rising child poverty to lower life expectancy, longer A&E waiting times and poorer education standards, they have failed to help the working class in Wales. They protest that this is merely due to Westminster funding, and yet their 2019 manifesto has dropped their pledge to review the Barnett Formula, they held power in both Westminster and Cardiff Bay for eleven years, and whenever asked, they fail to explain how the SNP Government in Scotland, in spite of facing the same cuts, has delivered so much more than them.
Wales already knows the damage the Tories can do. This is something the Welsh have always understood. Yet their search for an answer, for a different path, has so far been fruitless. It’s time for a change. It’s time they chose a party comitted to a Green Jobs Revolution, to caring for everyone, to a fair deal for families, to action on housing and to combating crime. That party is Plaid Cymru. A vote for Plaid in this election is a vote for change; a vote to reject the broken politics of Westminster and the broken promises of the Unionist parties. It’s a vote for hope.
Wales; it’s us.
Welcome, and croeso.