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Opinion

Finding common ground for the common good – a different type of politics for a modern Wales

04 Dec 2022 5 minute read
Adam Price signing the cooperation agreement with Mark Drakeford last year

Adam Price, Leader of Plaid Cymru, reflects back on a year since his party signed a Co-operation Agreement with the Welsh Government 

One year – a mere 365 days – so much has changed. In that time, Russia has invaded Ukraine, we’ve had three UK Prime Ministers, and the health crisis has been overtaken by a new crisis – the cost-of-living.

It’s hard to believe we’ve seen these tumultuous events in such a short space of time.

In times like these, it’s even more important to remind ourselves of the real progress we’ve made here in Wales over that same time period.

Because it’s been one year – almost to the day – that my party, Plaid Cymru, signed a Co-operation Agreement with the Welsh Government.

One year since we made a promise we made to work together for a different kind of politics.

One year since we announced our shared ambition to feed our children, care for our elderly, and change the lives of thousands of people the length and breadth of our country for the better.

Not a coalition, but a co-operation in the interests of our nation. Finding common ground for the common good.

We knew then that the challenges faced by Wales required real ambition to deliver radical ideas.

No one party has a monopoly on good ideas – and if we knew that then, the significance of working together to help people is now more important than ever.

Turmoil

The extraordinary turmoil in the UK Government, the challenges of rising energy costs and inflation, and the economic challenges resulting from UK Government decision making has impacted us all.

It’s now more important than ever that we are able to take direct action to protect our most vulnerable, to relieve the symptoms of poverty, and to ensure that we have a stable Senedd.

The Co-operation Agreement directly responds to all those needs.

Since the start of the school year in September, an additional 45,000 children were offered a free school meal, with steps in place to roll out free school lunches to all primary school children by 2024. This directly addresses one of the cruellest symptoms of poverty: Hungry children cannot learn. Through co-operation, we’re in the process of giving our primary school pupils a better platform on which to learn and grow.

Through co-operation, we’ve introduced a package of measures to address the proliferation of second homes in many communities, thereby making it possible for more people to afford to live in the place they call home.

We’ve also taken the first steps to expand high-quality free childcare to younger children – saving parents of young children money at this most difficult of times.

Benefits

Critics are often quick to point out that the free school meals policy benefits children of parents who might be able to afford to feed their children. Apart from the fact that they are tax payers too, the benefits of universal free school meals are well documented.

Not only does it remove stigma, increase the range of food pupils eat, and promote healthy eating, it can positively impact local food supply, which in turn supports the Welsh economy.

Often the loudest critics are the Welsh branch of the Conservative party, but when I look at what their party has inflicted on the UK over the last year and compare it to what we have already achieved in Wales just by co-operating on shared ambitions, then I know which flavour of politics I prefer.

That spirit of co-operation weaves its way through our history, shaping the Wales we have today. From the Cwmbach co-op of 1859 to the Tredegar Medical Aid Society that blazed the trail for the NHS, co-operation is at the beating heart of the Welsh radical tradition.

When I spoke at my party’s annual conference, I referred to Plaid Cymru as a party of Welsh Co-operators. Even now in opposition, we are a party of co-opposition. Co-operating and delivering where possible, opposing, scrutinising, probing, and prompting where necessary. We do this for the sake of Wales; to put Cymru first.

Ambitious

The Co-operation Agreement is an ambitious, three-year programme and we’re only one year in.

Across the next two years, we’ll work together on a White Paper to examine the role of fair rents and a right to adequate housing. We’ll continue our work to strengthen Wales’ democracy and ensuring people across Wales are better represented – reflecting the modern Wales in which we live.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that Plaid Cymru wants to see universal free school meals in Wales. Because poverty doesn’t stop in primary school, and nor does the fact that hungry children cannot learn.

Where agreement is possible, people rightly expect political parties to work together for the benefit of the nation, and I remain committed to finding common ground for the common good and to change Wales for the better.

The progress we have already made is testament to this way of working, and I look forward to what else we can achieve.


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Rhosddu
Rhosddu
1 month ago

The co-operation agreement is unquestionably a political victory for Adam Price, because it embeds Plaid Cymru policies in Welsh Government legislation and also reduces any Welsh Tory threat to vote down pro-Wales legislation.

CJPh
CJPh
1 month ago
Reply to  Rhosddu

Plaid have drifted ever Labour-wards since the last coalition. We have many members who do not support independence for Wales, pushing what should be solely a Labour-spawned fever dream – federalism in the UK. There will be zero Plaid influence on Labour (it just formalises Labour’s pinching of Plaid ideas, ideas which I couldn’t care less for until we’re free anyway). This capitulation to a Unionist party and our blind hatred for the Tories has done their work for them, and better than they ever could; the sepeartist party is now subsumed within a unionist one. Da iawn pawb, you… Read more »

Rhods
Rhods
1 month ago

I’m extremely grateful, this cooperation, shows that we in Wales are highly civilised. Thanks to all involved

CJPh
CJPh
1 month ago
Reply to  Rhods

If high civility means political homogeneity, then I’d rather cruder politics. I think it’s called democracy. I didn’t vote Labour. The party I tasked with providing an opposition to them are now holding their hands and dancing through meadows. Democracy is oppositional, tyrannies begin as a “cooperative enterprise”. Brad arall oddi wrth ein Plaid genedlaethol. Cywilyddus. Smo chi moyn unrhywbeth ond pwer i chi eich hunain.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  CJPh

Well if you want “cruder politics” then there’s always Westminster. We have a slightly proportional representative system here and that can and has resulted in no overall majority for one party. A better PR system would almost certainly result in more co-operation and compromises amongst parties. Like what happens in most of Europe. However that requires a change in attitude towards how government operates both from our politicians and the electorate. First past the post is simple, proportional representation is more complex. It’s going to take effort to switch from easy to more difficult and a willingness to make that… Read more »

Peter Jones
Peter Jones
1 month ago

No mention of the planned destruction of the tourist industry, the increase in racism and anyone not born, bred and stays in Wales. The the reduction in wealth of residents, lack of investment, and no big businesses wanting to invest in wales. Small business owners pushed away and don’t even start on the NHS and social care failings. Well done!

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Jones

There are no mention of those things because they are a figment of your overactive imagination and your embittered far right political outlook

CJPh
CJPh
1 month ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

I don’t know if his emnity is politically motivated. The politics may follow a basic hatred for Welsh culture not rolling over and dying.

Last edited 1 month ago by CJPh
Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Jones

Since when did anti-colonialism become racism? Don’t you approve of legislation that aims to safeguard the desire of people to live and work in their own community?

Riki
Riki
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Jones

Yeah, it’s Absurd for a people to want to protect their culture and nation after several hundreds of years of Abuse! What are the Welsh thinking? Is a Yank on Holiday feeling welcomed more important than the country their visiting even existing?

Cynan again
Cynan again
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Jones

There is no destruction of the tourist industry. That is just an invention of your masters in Mordor parroted through the mouths of the Vale Tory and the other puppets. English is not a race, although recent figures show that the increase in hate crimes against various Tory scapegoats in the last year is about 20% in the last year (most of which are in England), which has increased 200% since 2016. I wonder what could have caused that. The reduction in wealth of disUK residents is entirely a result of Mordor Tory policies. Everyone knows this but you it… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Cynan again
Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
1 month ago

What Price is actually saying is this.
Being Deputy First Minister means I don’t have to win an election, I’m very comfortable in the arms of a unionist party, thank yiou.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Isn’t it that Plaid Cymru is a hostage to the pro-Unionist electorate of Cymru and that ultimately that pro-Unionist electorate limits what and how and to what degree a pro-Independence party can influence government.

It would be great to have a pro-independence government any ideas how we might tempt the electorate out of what they consider to be the comfortable arms of unionist parties

Being Deputy First Minister..” don’t you mean (in your opinion) – Acting like Deputy First Minister.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

What you are missing is that Plaid Cymru is an opposition party, the role of the opposition is to check, challenge and call to account the government. IF and I do mean IF Plaid Cymru is a separatist organisation – it isn’t by the way, its policy is federalism – then it should be campaigning on that, with commitment and clear policies. That’s not going to happen while the Deputy First Minister (for that’s what Price is) waxes lyrical about cooperation with a unionist party. Today’s HTV poll again demonstrates the irrelevance of Plaid Cymru. What is needed is a… Read more »

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

We’re no longer in a first past the post electoral system.
Adjustments by politicians and the electorate should already have been made. A consequence is that whoever leads Plaid Cymru in the Senedd will have to deal with the probability that no single party will get a workable overall majority.

A greater degree of proportional representation is on the way and harking back to a two sword lengths between government and opposition Westminster model is wishful thinking, for those who wish for such a thing.

Riki
Riki
1 month ago
Reply to  CapM

I’d start by Explaining to them how we aren’t required to follow the same rules as England or Scotland where independence is concerned! Wales isn’t legally unified with anyone.

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