Election 2017 Manifestos: Plaid Cymru

The parties have started to release their general election manifestos, and I’m going to summarise them in the order in which they were published. As they pipped Labour by a few hours, I begin with Plaid Cymru.


As mentioned previously, I’m only going to cover areas that are non-devolved, so no pledges on the NHS, schools, farming etc. unless it’s directly related to a non-devolved area (like Brexit).

Defending Wales: Action Plan 2017 (pdf)

Brexit

  • Ensure Wales maintains barrier-free trade with the EU and fight for the “best possible Brexit deal”for Wales.
  • Secure the money promised to Wales by the Leave campaign, in particular a proportional share of the (infamous) £350million a week for the NHS.
  • Guarantee the rights of EU citizens already living and working in Wales.
  • All future free-trade deals should be endorsed by the devolved administrations.
  • Ensure “every penny” of EU funding for farmers is replaced by the UK Government post-Brexit.


Economy & Tax

 

  • Press for a needs-based funding formula for the UK’s nations and regions.
  • Targeted tax discounts for Welsh businesses; devolution of corporation tax, air passenger duty and VAT.
  • Ensure as much of the £4.3billion in annual public procurement spending as possible is kept in Wales, creating 50,000 jobs.
  • Invest £7.5billion on Welsh infrastructure.
  • Reform business rates to change it to a turnover-based system.
  • Demand strong anti steel-dumping measures from the UK Government.
  • Supports introducing a “living wage”.
  • Cut VAT for the tourism industry.
  • Introduce a fuel duty regulator to stop rising fuel costs.


Energy & Environment

 

  • Increase energy generation from renewables; supports tidal lagoons in Swansea Bay and Cardiff Bay.
  • Establish an electric vehicle charging network.
  • Create a Welsh energy company that uses profits from our natural resources to cut bills for customers via de-centralised networks.
  • Opposes the construction of pylons through National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Welfare

 

  • Wants to see powers over social security devolved to Wales, citing banning for-profit firms carrying out benefit assessments as a possible policy change.
  • Scrap the “bedroom tax” and the “rape clause” for child tax credit (where mothers have to explain to a third party that a child was the result of rape to claim additional payments beyond two children).
  • Lift welfare sanctions applied to disabled people when seeking work.
  • Wants a “living pension for all” and supports retaining the “triple lock”.
  • Supports a review of the Miners’ Pension Scheme so proceeds are more fairly split between retirees and the UK Government.


Criminal Justice

 

  • Secure an extra £25million for Welsh police forces.
  • Reverse cuts to legal aid.
  • Bring forward new laws to protect rape victims so they can give evidence “without being intimidated”.
  • Block the proposed “super prison”development in Port Talbot; provide more spaces for women prisoners and young offenders.


Defence

 

  • Ensure veterans receive excellent health care, mental health care and adequate housing.
  • Oppose military action without UN and Parliamentary authority.
  • Scrap the Trident nuclear missile system and resist any attempt to relocate it to Wales; money saved would be used to strengthen conventional forces.


Foreign Affairs

 

  • Establish a Welsh Development Agency-style body to promote Wales diplomatically and economically.
  • Maintain the 0.7% of GDP commitment to foreign aid.
  • Demand UK and Welsh Government support for Welsh bids to host major events, including the Commonwealth Games and the World Expo.


Immigration

 

  • Uphold the Dubs Amendment to allow unaccompanied child refugees into the UK.
  • Create a Welsh Migration Advisory Service to ensure Welsh immigration policy meets our own needs, including Wales-specific visas to plug skills gaps.
  • International students shouldn’t be included in net-migration statistics or targets.


Constitutional Reform & Misc.

 

  • Establish a Welsh legal jurisdiction.
  • Establish a Human Rights Charter for Wales.
  • Propose legislation to “protect the sovereignty and democracy of Wales”.
  • “Extra powers” for the National Assembly to give it the tools to work effectively.
  • Lower the voting age to 16.
  • Supports devolution of broadcasting and maintaining funding for S4C.


Major faults:

 

  • The manifesto is reportedly (those dreaded words) “fully-costed”, but there are no numbers. This was a big problem with all the parties last year too.
  • How will Plaid ensure barrier-free trade with the EU when the UK Government are determined to press ahead with a “Hard Brexit”? There’ll be no bespoke deal for Wales.
  • We all know the “extra £350million a week for the NHS” from the Leave campaign was a load of bollocks, so why refer to it?


Minor faults:

 

  • “Our economy, our communities and even our very identity as a nation is under threat from the cruel and reckless Tories”. That’s a bit melodramatic; whatever happened to the spirit of “Yma o Hyd”?
  • What extra powers for the National Assembly (apart from the specifics already mentioned)?
  • There’s no explanation of where the £7.5billion infrastructure investment figure comes from. The annual capital budget for the Welsh Government is just over £1billion.
  • The situation with regard human rights and devolution is complicated, but safe to say the Senedd probably wouldn’t be able to enforce its own Human Rights Charter (though any changes to existing human rights laws by the UK Parliament would almost certainly require the consent of the devolved administrations).
  • Creating a Welsh legal jurisdiction in itself doesn’t mean that Wales could change the justice system; there’s no (direct) mention of devolving policing and criminal justice, which is a strange omission to say the least from Plaid.
  • Introducing a Welsh immigration system isn’t an insurmountable challenge (there’s a federalised system in Canada, for example), but it’s unlikely to be supported by any future UK Government.