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Plaid Cymru leader ‘open’ to future cooperation agreements with parties in the Senedd

22 Mar 2024 5 minute read
Rhun ap Iorwerth

Plaid Cymru is open to entering into another cooperation agreement with Labour in the Senedd, Rhun ap Iorwerth has said.

Speaking ahead of the Plaid Cymru conference on Friday, the party’s leader expressed a willingness to enter into a deal with other parties in the Welsh Parliament.

In 2021, the Welsh Labour government and Plaid signed a three-year cooperation agreement for the two parties to work together in 46 policy areas.

It meant that Plaid was still in opposition but could appoint advisers to the Welsh government in certain areas.

The agreement is set to conclude at the end of 2024 and is unlikely to be renewed before the Senedd elections in 2026.

Willing

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr ap Iorwerth said: “Would I be willing to work with others in order to pursue the interests of Wales and Welsh communities?

“Well, yes. We should all – whichever political colour we are – be finding ways to cooperate.

“Where we have been able to agree on a set of policies that the Welsh Government and ourselves think are important, I would always be ready to see how that could be done, whether that’s us as a larger party or a smaller party. You look at ways of cooperating.”

He pointed out that there has never been a one-party majority in the history of devolution in Wales, suggesting the system was designed to “promote cooperation”.

The Plaid leader said that a move to a more proportional system in the Senedd, which will see 36 new members added from 2026, will encourage cross-party working even further.

Asked if he believed the agreement between the two parties has been a success, he said that would be for the electorate to judge.

However, he called it an example of “mature politics”, which has helped tackle issues like the “proliferation of second homes” and enabled a rollout of free school meals.

He said: “It is an exercise in finding common ground and using our influence in a positive way. I think people appreciate that. And I think it is a good way of doing politics.”

Real alternative

On the prospect of an upcoming general election, he insisted his party offered the people of Wales a real alternative, encouraging people to get behind the party against Labour.

“We genuinely offer a real alternative for people in Wales in this election,” he said.

“We’re desperate to get rid of this Tory government.

“We’ve had communities enduring years of pain at the hands of decisions taken by this government, so they must go, that is way way overdue.

“But it’s not as if we have an incoming Labour government that is also brimming with ideas and a new vision that offers a clear message to Wales as to why they should trust Labour with their votes.”

He argued that Sir Keir Starmer has said nothing about fairer funding for the country or whether Wales would get extra money which he argues it is owed from the funding arrangements of the HS2 rail line.

“We say, let’s make sure we have the strongest cohort of Plaid Cymru members possible to hold their feet to the fire just as we do the Conservatives.”

Mr ap Iorwerth dismissed the idea that Labour would say they needed as many members as possible to keep the Conservatives from another electoral victory.

He said: “Labour is going to come into power this year and it’s not going to make a blind bit of difference which way Wales votes. Labour will be in power.

“But we can’t have a situation whereby Labour storm in with a huge majority thinking that they are free to do what they do.

“We know that one thing the UK establishment does very well is to ignore what is good for Wales, the troublesome bits sticking off to the west of the British Isles.

“They’re not even giving us a sop currently.”

Mr ap Iorwerth also dismissed the idea that it was illogical for the 28-year-old Plaid Cymru activist Carmen Smith to become a peer in the House of Lords, when his party wishes to see the chamber abolished.

“Where Wales is debated, Wales has to be represented,” he said.

“I don’t want people discussing policy that has an impact on our communities without us being around the table, it’s as simple as that.

“And one of the things that Carmen will be campaigning on is for the democratisation of a second chamber and for scrapping the House of Lords as it is.”

Ridiculous

He added: “People say ‘isn’t it ridiculous that somebody so young can be in a position for life as a lord?’ and I say ‘yes, it is absolutely ridiculous’.

“If Carmen being there highlights how out of date and out of touch the House of Lords is, well, let that be a good thing.”

Mr ap Iorwerth described the Welsh cabinet, which was revealed by Vaughan Gething, the new Welsh First Minister, on Thursday, as being a bit “Groundhog Day”, with only one new person who has not sat in government before on the list.

He said: “We know that this is a government which has to address significant challenges, the legacy that this government inherits is from another previous Labour government.

“So, when you look at a stagnant economy, child poverty, the state of education, the state of health, this is a cabinet that has created the issues that we have.”

He said “time will tell” whether Mr Gething can make a difference, arguing the First Minister comes into the role “under a cloud”, partly due to donations he received during the leadership campaign.

Mr ap Iorwerth said he believed Mr Gething paying the money back would help demonstrate that nothing untoward had happened.


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Richard E
Richard E
20 days ago

Rh.ap.I has the strength and leadership for sure but needs to offer Cymru a clear vision of why we should support PC…..

PC needs clear “Green” water between it and Cardiff Bay Labour.

Are they the well meaning Welsh concience of Labour or the radical alternative offering clear direction & action ?

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
20 days ago

Rhun and Plaid plumb new depths. An absolutely incredible read for all the wrong reasons. Three years of this cooperation agreement and the best he can come up with as an example of ‘mature politics’ is tackling the ‘proliferation of second homes’. Whether he includes his own property portfolio in that we do not know. At the end he believes that ‘Mr Gething paying the money back would help demonstrate that nothing untoward happened’. We can expect then an image of Gething, big grin on his face like Hazel Blears returning the £200,000 cheque. Happy days and a nod of… Read more »

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
20 days ago
Reply to  Swn Y Mor

I had intended responding but you have said it, succinctly and articulately.
I would add though. Ap Iorwerth, are you for real? You want to continue to support a very dodgy and tainted First Minister elected in such a way that makes Stalin look like a democrat and in the same breath defend sending a lobbyist with a questionable connection with the party to the Lords, which you oppose?
Yu couldn’t make it up!

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
20 days ago

Unlike all the unionist parties (where party advantage is the aim) Plaid will rightly always act in accordance with what’s in Wales’ best interests? And if after the next Senedd elections it’s felt another co-operation agreement would be in Wales’ best interests we can trust plaid to do the right thing.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
20 days ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Leigh. Have you read the article?

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
20 days ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Of course I have John. I would point out that the One Wales Agreement brought us the successful 2011 referendum on primary law making powers and the current agreement is bringing us a expanded Senedd (both Plaid Cymru aims). So Plaid has achieved significant gains from working with labour administrations in the Senedd. So I think it would be foolish to rule out working with others in the Senedd in future if future gains for plaid – and for Wales – can result from any such agreements.

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