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MP attacks Plaid Cymru for abstaining on Budget Bill

27 Apr 2024 5 minute read
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP, Jonathan Edwards

Martin Shipton

Independent MP Jonathan Edwards has launched an attack on his former party Plaid Cymru after its three MPs abstained on an SNP amendment that condemned the Tory Budget for failing to address the cost-of-living crisis.

The amendment to the Finance Bill opposed the Budget “because it fails to make a much-needed reduction in VAT for the hospitality and tourism sectors; fails to reintroduce tax-free shopping for international visitors; does not establish a more progressive tax system by introducing a starter rate, in line with the Scottish Government’s approach; fails to introduce measures through the tax system that would help alleviate the cost-of-living crisis and reduce inequality; and fails to introduce tax relief measures to enable vital high-growth sectors, like the renewable sector, to grow the economy”.

The amendment also condemned a proposal to extend the Energy (Oil and Gas) Profits Levy, alleging that it threatened the security of jobs in north east Scotland and the UK’s ability to achieve net zero.

Mr Edwards, the MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, has not yet announced whether he will stand in the general election as an Independent candidate in the new seat of Caerfyrddin.

Aligned

He said: “Despite the breadth of fiscal powers available to a nation state, we are facing the incredible situation in the forthcoming general election where the Conservatives, Labour and Plaid Cymru are completely aligned on tax and spend policies.

“Economic policy will effectively be a non-issue during the campaign despite the fact that the UK economy has just suffered a recession, growth is likely to be anaemic for the foreseeable future, living standards have been squeezed for a prolonged period of time and the UK has faced decades of economic mismanagement.

“The backdrop to the election is that we have been getting relatively poorer for over a decade, and there is no indication that the malaise is about to end. GDP per capita has collapsed by 4.2% compared to its pre-cost-of-living crisis path, meaning that the average person is around £1,500 worse off compared to only a few years ago. We have experienced the longest quarterly successive falls in personal wealth since 1955. The electorate are crying out for an alternative vision.

“I can understand why Labour strategists have employed a safety-first approach to the election. They don’t want to give an inch for the Tories to attack them on economic policy. In accepting Tory fiscal policy I fear they could well fall into a trap which means the debate surrounding the election will descend into a fight around spending cuts much like 2015.

“Why Plaid Cymru are also following this path is beyond me. There’s no point complaining about spending cuts to public services back in Wales when you abstain on key fiscal votes in Westminster.

“Plaid are never going to win an argument with the Westminster parties on ‘economic competence’; it should be outlining its own alternative vision to the failure of the Westminster consensus. The SNP realise this, and at least they will be able to distance themselves from Labour and the Tories. Plaid will have nowhere to go. Parties without a sense of purpose and identity quickly become irrelevant.

“The UK is suffering from an investment drought that has lasted decades and is now resulting in crumbling public services, chronic low productivity, stagnating real wages and geographical wealth imbalances. None of the political parties has a plan for economic growth based on domestic intervention – they seem all to be waiting for external factors to improve. Considering the state of matters, the lack of vision is completely depressing and will ultimately allow the growth of far right political forces.

“Opposition parties should be making the case for amending the self-imposed Tory fiscal rules, or straightjacket as some commentators call it, to enable a significant increase in capital investment to at least 3% of GDP. There needs to be an acceptance that the UK must realign economically with Europe. And the next Government should focus capital investment on low productivity areas of the UK to get more of a return on expenditure. Throwing everything at London isn’t working. I would also like to see a far greater focus on taxing extreme wealth to redistribute to working people.”

Prioritise

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson responded: “The SNP’s amendment to the Second Reading of the Finance Bill focused on Scotland-specific issues. While it’s commendable that Mr Edwards is so passionate about Scotland, Plaid Cymru will always prioritise the needs of the people of Wales.

“Plaid Cymru had called for the abolition of the non-dom status ahead of this Budget, in order to raise public funds to help struggling families in Wales. We decided therefore not to oppose the Finance Bill in its entirety and rather to oppose the harmful measures taken in the Budget during the Bill’s Committee Stage.

“We also voted against the Government’s resolution to reduce Capital Gains Tax as we have made it clear that CGT should be equalised with income tax.

“Plaid Cymru has strongly criticised the dire Labour-Tory fiscal consensus that holds Wales back. We’ve warned that Rachel Reeves’ adoption of Tory fiscal rules could result in vast spending cuts of up to £20 billion – cuts that our public services simply cannot handle. We’ve called for a fairer approach to UK taxation that reduces inequality by raising more resources from big corporations and those earning vast wealth through investments.

“The people of Caerfyrddin deserve an MP who will rise above petty squabbling and fight for a better economic future for the new constituency. Plaid Cymru’s Ann Davies has the no-nonsense, common-sense approach to politics that will always keep her focus on what’s important.”


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Jeff
Jeff
28 days ago

Bloke should do the decent thing and resign. He cannot stand as a law maker.

Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas
28 days ago

I wish Jonathan was re admitted into the party(if he so wants) what he did was wrong on a dreadful scale but how long can a person go on being punished? He is a very capable, likeable person with much to offer Cymru

Gaynor
Gaynor
28 days ago
Reply to  Steve Thomas

Best MP we have ever had in the constituency . He cut across party affiliations and is much respected for his hard work and ability to speak and communicate to ordinary people. Funny how people like to throw unsubstantiated dirt at him without even knowing the facts or the truth of the matter.

Tom
Tom
28 days ago

Funny that the Plaid criticises “petty squabbling” yet their response of “While it’s commendable that Mr Edwards is so passionate about Scotland, Plaid Cymru will always prioritise the needs of the people of Wales” sounds very petty to me. If they so wish, one could criticise Mr Edwards for other matters but is Plaid seriously suggesting that this MP (a former Plaid member for many years) is not passionate about Wales? If so, why was he allowed to be a Plaid member for so long? Plaid can commission as many polls as they want but they are deluding themselves if… Read more »

Will Jones
Will Jones
28 days ago

Plaid are increasingly irrelevant

Tom
Tom
28 days ago
Reply to  Will Jones

I’m afraid you’re right. Look at the recent by election in Grangetown. Plaid won it in November 2016. On Thursday they were a distant second. They were down nearly 10% and were nearly 30% behind Labour. They only beat the incredibly unpopular Tories by 6%! In a recent by election in Aberkenfig in which they won in 2022, they didn’t even field a candidate. Instead of making personal attacks on Jonathan Edwards they should concentrate on being a credible opposition.

Caradoc
Caradoc
28 days ago

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Plaid made him, and they have unmade him. Before he was selected as Plaid candidate in 2010 he was nobody. Overnight, he became somebody. He rose without trace. He will disappear without trace.

Caradoc
Caradoc
28 days ago

As for Ann Davies. She will make Carmen Smith appear like a political titan (in DMs).

Tom
Tom
28 days ago

It is the hypocrisy I cannot stand. Plaid throw Jonathan Edwards out whilst a prominent candidate and special advisor has an alleged history of terrible behaviour towards ex partners. One former partner has spoken openly on the media about this and raises money to Women’s Aid. Yet he is promoted within the party and quite possibly wrote this Plaid press release. Also, Plaid Cymru’s Gwynedd Council was warned of Neil Fodden’s behaviour with children. If he is found guilty will the Deputy Chair of Plaid Cymru who has held the education portfolio in the council since the summer of 2022… Read more »

Caradoc
Caradoc
27 days ago
Reply to  Tom

Tom, you and I know that Plaid Cymru is a Welsh clique. If you are in, you are untouchable. If you are out, you will never do anything right. Wales is run by five families. Like Sicily. Am I right?

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