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Opinion

Boris Johnson’s tawdry Westminster circus of chaos calls for a different kind of politics in Wales

27 Nov 2021 5 minutes Read
The Senedd left and Westminster right. Picture by on the left by the Senedd (CC BY 2.0).

Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid Cymru MP

Saying that Boris Johnson has made a real pig’s ear of governing may be the understatement of the year.

An endless merry-go-round of sleaze operettas. A bizarre, cloth-eared speech to business leaders. Rebellion against a shoddy social care plan that will make poorer households pay for the care of the wealthy. Endless broken promises. Boris Johnson has always ad-libbed on a whirlwind of chaos, but now he’s spinning out of control. At this time more than ever, we need a different kind of politics in Wales.

As infantile chaos reigns in Westminster – we’ve seen a different kind of politics emerge in Wales this week. Plaid Cymru’s Cooperation Agreement with the Welsh Government will deliver policies that will protect Wales from the worst impact of Boris Johnson’s failed record of regressive incompetence.

The past month haven’t been a freakish anomaly in British politics. Patronage, dysfunction and antagonism are built-in features of the Westminster system. Even during a pandemic, where people sought desperately to trust their governments to act for the common good, Westminster was mired by cronyism and corruption scandals. Meanwhile, in Wales, our values of openness and constructive co-operation swung into action – our devolved institutions gaining stature and respect in the process.

That is why today, as Plaid Cymru members vote on the Co-operation Agreement policies agreed between Adam Price and Mark Drakeford, I urge members to put that principle of cooperation over division at the forefront of their minds.

The combined economic impact of Covid and Brexit, the climate emergency, and the housing crisis – people in Wales face multifaceted and intertwined challenges which require closer co-operation than before.

The common thread in all these crises is that they hit the poorest in society the hardest. Household bills are skyrocketing while the Tory UK Government is hard-bent on inflicting escalating hardship on people year after year. Westminster’s Universal Credit cuts and higher taxes for those on low incomes require a boldly progressive government in Cardiff Bay.

Free school meals

In that challenging context, I am so proud that Plaid Cymru have succeeded in convincing the Labour Government to extend free school meals to all primary school pupils, over the lifetime of the agreement. It will ensure that children in Wales have the best start in life and a guaranteed nourishing meal every day.

Making the system universal will eradicate the stigma that prevents many families living in poverty from making best use of all support available.

The other crisis – the environmental and ecological one that threatens the very basic elements of life such as access to clean air, water, food and shelter – requires radical action and leadership from Welsh Government.

Our landmark Net Zero 2035 commitment reflects the kind of leadership needed post-COP26. We will commission independent advice to examine different possible ways to achieve net zero carbon by 2035 – the current target date being 2050. I am personally proud that we have convinced the Labour Government to back our campaign to devolve the management of the Crown Estate and its assets in Wales – a topic on which I currently have a Private Member’s Bill in the House of Commons.

Our shared ambition to establish a publicly owned energy company for Wales, Ynni Cymru, will aim to expand community-owned renewable energy generation. This will place more power in the hands of Welsh communities, showing that decarbonisation can work the benefit of our people and democracy.

The third crisis this agreement will go a long way in addressing is the housing crisis. A generation of young people in my community in Llŷn, just like in many other areas of Wales from Pembrokeshire to Conwy, have been priced out entirely.  The two-pronged approach of tackling the second homes crisis and building more social and affordable housing will help young people the length and breadth of Wales.

Our agreement means that a series of measures will be introduced, including a cap on the number of second and holiday homes, measures to bring more homes into common ownership, a statutory licensing scheme for holiday lets and greater powers for local authorities to charge council tax premiums.

Attacks on Welsh democracy

As a Westminster MP since 2015, I have seen attacks on Welsh democracy move from being subtle hints at the time of the Brexit referendum to the active dismembering of our powers this year. This grown-up, progressive agreement reflects not only a commitment to improving the lives of people in Wales, but also one that reflects a confident democracy that will stand up to Westminster.

Our 60-member chamber is ill-equipped to cope with the scale of the challenges ahead. And with the number of Welsh MPs being slashed from 40 to 32, the argument for a stronger national parliament for Wales is stronger than ever. Our plans to reform the Senedd will create a parliament comprised of between 80 and 100 Members. We also aim to begin to bring in proper representation with both a proportional voting system and gender quotas enshrined in law.

A strong, modern Welsh parliament will stand in stark contrast with Westminster’s 19th century model of patronage, patrimony and partisanship. Fewer and fewer people still believe that an institution designed to be an adversarial debating chamber for 18th century landowning men to play at amateur politics while safeguarding the class interests of the aristocracy and the empire could ever serve the interests of 21st century Wales.

The typically Welsh instinct to find common ground for the common good will make our agreement a success – I am sure of it.

Boris Johnson’s tawdry Westminster circus of chaos no longer holds us in its thrall.

It’s time to focus on delivering real changes for our nation and all those who call it their home.


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Rhosddu
Rhosddu
7 months ago

Dw i’n cytuno cant y cant efo’r erthygl hwn. This co-operation agreement is a positive move, and reflects a new willingness on the part of Welsh Labour to actually use devolution to act in Wales’s interest after twenty years of looking the other way while things got steadily worse. It marks a major change in direction on the part of the WG, and Plaid can take partial credit for this. As well as having much potential – on paper, at least – to benefit the country, it can also be seen as a defensive measure in the war on Wales… Read more »

William Glyn THOMAS
William Glyn THOMAS
7 months ago

Wel, yr hyn sydd ei angen arnom nawr yw ein Annibyniaeth.
Rhaid i’r etholwyr, os ydyn nhw’n cydnabod gwirionedd, sylweddoli y byddan nhw’n ca
el eu cynrychioli’n well gan wleidyddion sy’n poeni amdanyn nhw a’u teuluoedd.

Well said, what we need now is our Independence. 
The electorate, if they recognise truth must realise they will be better represented by politicians who care about them and their families.

Geoff Horton-Jones
Geoff Horton-Jones
7 months ago

Time to say goodbye. to England and go our own way in the World

If you are listening in England then it’s Time to say goodbye to Boris if you want to save England

Paul Reynolds
7 months ago

So the Plaid Cymru actually went backwards in the last election.

What has changed now?

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Reynolds

No, they gained an extra seat. However, their policies generally overlap with Welsh Labour’s; add to that Drakeford’s relatively successful handling of public health during the pandemic, and his willingness to stand up for Wales in the face of Johnson’s war on devolution, it was inevitable that the Welsh electorate would turn to Welsh Labour in May rather than to Plaid. The new agreement between the two parties is likely to see a rise in support for Plaid without adversely affecting Welsh Labour’s popularity.

j humphrys
j humphrys
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Reynolds

You wish!

Erisian
Erisian
7 months ago

Coulrophobia (COOl-ruh-FOE-bee-uh) is a fear (phobia) of clowns. Children and adults who fear clowns may experience extreme, rational reactions when they see clowns in parliament or view pictures or videos of clowns on the news or in newspapers. Someone with a fear of clowns is coulrophobic. Or just plain sensible.

Last edited 7 months ago by Erisian
Grayham Jones
7 months ago

Kick all English party’s out of wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 stop being little Englanders and be proud to be welsh start fighting for your children and grandchildren future in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 it’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Arwyn
Arwyn
7 months ago

Everything the current iteration of the “Conservative” Party has done has demonstrated that they are a complete and utter menace to the people of Wales. They have moved beyond Unionism. They have publically stated that they believe in a single contiguous British Nation. They even published a book to say as much! This makes them a radical British Nationalist party. At the very momement Unionism (if it was to survive), required soft diplomacy and constitutional accomodation, the Tories decided to throw their ideology at the situation and apply “muscular Unionism” as if that was what we all wanted to make… Read more »

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
7 months ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Can’t see it remaining at 23% – or even 39% (as was reported in March) for that matter – when it is becoming increasingly clear that with constant attacks on devolution, there will soon be only two options: independence or absorption.

j humphrys
j humphrys
7 months ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Your beloved Tories doing level best to make Indy a success. Diolch yn Fawr!!

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