UK Election 2019 Manifestos: Plaid Cymru

As said previously, these manifesto articles are only going to focus on policies which are non-devolved – so won’t count education, health, social care, some aspects of transport, housing etc.

Wales, it’s us (Cymraeg – link; English – link)

Brexit

  • Opposes the current Withdrawal Agreement as negotiated by Boris Johnson.
  • Supports a second referendum on Brexit and would campaign for a Remain vote.

Economy & Tax

  • Increase UK-wide capital spending by 1% of GDP, resulting in an additional £15billion for Wales over 10 years to invest in a “Green Jobs Revolution”.
  • Increase the Welsh Government’s borrowing limit from £1billion over five years to £5billion.
  • Create a publicly-owned Welsh Broadband Infrastructure Company to guarantee access to full-fibre broadband by 2025.
  • Scrap High Speed 2; opposes a third runway at Heathrow Airport – would demand a Barnett consequential if the projects continue in the next parliament.
  • Electrify all major rail lines by 2030; build metro systems in Swansea Bay, north-east Wales (with the Chester depot being relocated to north Wales); reopen Carmarthen-Aberystwyth railway and open a cross-valleys railway from Porth to Pontypool.
  • Ban zero-hour contracts.
  • Would keep corporation tax at 19%, would also seek to devolve it.
  • Income tax relief on pension income would be maintained at 20%.
  • Increase the higher rate of national insurance contributions from 2% to 4%.
  • Devolve air passenger duty and have a Welsh-assigned proportion of VAT revenues.
  • Replace the Barnett Formula with a needs-based funding system.

Criminal Justice

  • Recruit 1,600 additional police officers.
  • Expresses support for Portugese-style decriminalisation of recreational drug use; focus police resources towards dealers and establish a Commission on reforming drug laws.
  • Replace shorter prison sentences with community sentences; opposes the construction of any new “super prisons” in Wales.
  • Overhaul how rape cases are handled, including a public information campaign on consent, proper resourcing of sexual assault referral centres and new guidance for the police, judges and magistrates.
  • Hate crime, including online abuse, should be treated as “a serious offence” by the police.
  • Introduce a register for repeat domestic abusers.
  • Reverse cuts to legal aid.

Immigration

  • Reform the Settled Status application system to a registration system to ensure all EU citizens resident in the UK before Brexit has a right to permanent residence and full civic rights.
  • Establish a Welsh Migration Advisory Service to plug skills gaps and protect the NHS from staffing shortages.
  • International students shouldn’t be counted in annual net migration targets.
  • Work towards an EU-wide migration system with a fair allocation of refugees and asylum-seekers across member states; Wales should become a “Nation of Sanctuary”.

Environment & Energy

  • Wales should be 100% self-sufficient in renewable energy by 2030; supports tidal lagoons in Swansea Bay, Cardiff and Colwyn Bay and an Usk barrage. Also supports an offshore windfarm off Anglesey.
  • Ban single-use plastics by 2030.
  • Develop a national green energy “atlas” to determine where energy projects would have the least environmental impact in Wales.
  • End the importation of goods which contribute to deforestation and ban imports of soy, beef and other commodities which have been produced on illegally deforested land.
  • Supports halting all offshore fossil fuel exploration; ban fracking and open-cast mining.
  • Plant a minimum of 2,000 hectares on new woodland a year from 2020.
  • Phase-out petrol and diesel cars by 2030; invest in an electric vehicle charging network.

Welfare

  • Introduce a £35-per-week payment for households living below the poverty line.
  • Introduce a tax credit of £25-per-week for households paying more than 60% of their income on rent and for those paying more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities combined.
  • Maintain the triple lock on state pensions.
  • Repeal the Vagrancy Act.
  • Would compensate WASPI women caught out by an increase in the state pension age.
  • Will renegotiate the miners’ pension scheme to ensure a fairer proportion of the surplus is given to former miners.
  • Seek devolution of some welfare payment including universal credit, disability benefits and discretionary payments; would scrap the bedroom tax.
  • Employers will be banned from making pregnant women redundant during pregnancy and until six months after they’ve returned from maternity leave.
  • Maternity and paternity leave should be extended to take into account premature births.

Defence

  • Would scrap the Trident nuclear weapons replacement, saving £205billion over its lifetime.
  • Seek to base Welsh army regiments in Wales.
  • Prioritise improvements to UK cybersecurity.
  • Military action should be authorised by all of the UK’s parliaments.

Foreign Policy

  • Encourage nations to establish consulates in Wales; call for Welsh associate membership of UNESCO, International Maritime Organisation and Food & Agriculture Organisation.
  • Any future trade deal after Brexit should uphold environmental and consumer protections, as well as workers rights, and protect the NHS from privatisation. Plaid will oppose any trade deal which doesn’t do these things.
  • All of the UK’s parliaments should be consulted and have a veto on future trade deals.
  • Use foreign aid to support environmentally-friendly farming practices.

Constitutional Reform & Miscellaneous

  • Supports Welsh independence by 2030; establish an Independence Commission to develop proposals for a written Welsh Constitution and an economic case for independence.
  • Supports devolution of criminal justice and broadcasting.
  • Replace the House of Lords with an elected second chamber of the UK Parliament; would campaign to move the UK Parliament out of London and would cancel the £5billion restoration of the Palace of Westminster.
  • Welsh will be a recognised nationality and can be included on official forms and passports.
  • Would lower the voting age in UK Parliament elections to 16.
  • Maintain free TV licences for the over-75s.
  • Make St David’s Day a bank holiday.
  • Uphold the Human Rights Act.

The major faults are things that derail the manifesto, have been completely overlooked or are outright lies – including policies which are unachievable or sketchy at best.

The minor faults are more moderate errors, circular arguments, bombastic statements or policies which will be difficult to achieve in real life, make reference to devolved responsibilities or are otherwise confusing or poorly explained.

Major Faults:

  • I accept this is a forerunner of the 2021 manifesto, but the number of references to devolved policy areas – from a party which knows full well they’re controlled from Cardiff – is pretty astonishing. Plaid Cymru are often the first to complain when the mainstream media muddles what’s devolved and what isn’t. Disappointing.
  • There are (some) costings, but they’re not particularly detailed.
  • Based on Labour’s recent announcement, fully compensating WASPI women could cost anything up to £58billion – this hasn’t been factored in.

Minor Faults:

  • There’s a lot of narrative, but often little detail when it comes to policy (with a few exceptions).
  • Some of the policy proposals are dependent on remaining in the EU – though they have, unlike the Lib Dems, seemingly planned for a post-Brexit scenario to a certain extent.
  • The renewable energy targets are very ambitious to say the least, verging on undeliverable at the current pace of developments.
  • Moving the Chester rail deport into north Wales – when it’s less than 3km from the border – seems a bit random.
  • There’s a contradictory section where they mention introducing a minimum price-per-unit for alcohol….which they approved in the Senedd only a few weeks ago (and take credit for “leading the way” on).
  • It’s unclear whether the £35-per-week anti-poverty payment or rental tax credit would be UK-wide or Wales-only. Also, the tax credit scheme sounds well-intentioned but potentially a bureaucratic nightmare.
  • They express support for a green energy atlas to determine precisely where to produce energy but have already presumed in favour of certain projects (Swansea Bay lagoon etc.).
  • No mention of nuclear energy. I wonder why?
  • There’s already a moratorium or presumption against fracking and open-cast mining in Wales.
  • The Senedd doesn’t have the power to create new bank holidays – in fact, quite a number of their policy proposals are dependent on the Senedd having powers they don’t currently have.
  • 24
    Shares