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Opinion

Labour’s spending plans – just like the Tories’ – represent a real and imminent threat to Welsh public services

21 Jun 2024 4 minute read
Rhun ap Iorwerth

Rhun ap Iorwerth, leader of Plaid Cymru

Between Brexit lies on buses and Downing Street parties during lockdown, it is little wonder that trust in politics is at an all-time low.

That’s why honesty is so critical in this General Election campaign, and that’s why Labour and the Tories’ conspiracy of silence on public sector cuts is so deeply disappointing.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that whoever seizes the keys to Number 10 in two weeks’ time, at least £18 billion of cuts are coming down the line.

With Labour wedded to austerity masquerading as a cautious approach, it appears that the most vulnerable in society will yet again be at the mercy of decisions taken in Westminster having already endured 14 years of Tory rule.

Fiscal straitjacket

The SNP warned this week that Labour’s decision to don the Tories’ fiscal straitjacket would amount to £1.45 billion of cuts to Scotland’s public services.

Based on our population share, the equivalent cut to Wales’s public services implied by Labour’s spending plans is a staggering £935 million.

Figures like this are difficult to comprehend so it’s worth examining some equivalent spending. A third of Wales’s total annual schools budget, the annual salaries of more than 25,000 nurses, funding for ten years’ worth of universal free primary school meals, almost the entire level of Welsh NHS spending on mental health, or more than twice the annual revenue funding for the entire Economy portfolio.

Imminent threat

Labour’s spending plans – just like the Tories’ – represent a real and imminent threat to Welsh public services, yet anyone offering a fair challenge to their manifesto is dismissed as promoting ‘fantasy economics’.

In reality, both Westminster parties’ austerity pledges represent nightmare economics for millions of families throughout the UK already struggling with the cost of living.

This is compounded by their refusal to even entertain the notion of rejoining the European single market and customs union, despite a report published earlier this year indicating that the UK economy is almost £140 billion smaller because of Brexit.

Plaid Cymru believed then as we believe now that Wales’s interests are best served by having the closest possible ties with the world’s largest trading bloc.

There are 13 mentions of poverty in Labour’s manifesto, yet seemingly not one policy devised to alleviate a problem which continues to cripple far too many communities.

Not even a commitment to scrap the pernicious two-child benefit cap which the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned this week will hit another 670,000 children throughout the UK by 2029.

Hope

The spectre of an end to 14 years of Tory rule should inspire at least some hope in people longing for a fairer future, but that is regrettably not the case. By prioritising caution over compassion, Labour is promising more of the same and threatening to wipe almost a billion pounds from the Welsh budget in the process.

This is no time for ambition in half measures. It was Labour’s own Aneurin Bevan who said that people who stand in the middle of the road get run over.

The challenges are too great and the stakes are too high for a change of government to represent little more than a change of furniture in Downing Street.

We in Plaid Cymru know that this is not as good as it gets for Wales. That is why we are offering real change at this election.

Not a nudge along Westminster’s sliding scale of austerity, but bold strides to bring about the economic, structural and social transformation required to build a fairer, more ambitious nation.

However much Labour in Wales profess to be passionate about tackling poverty, the patronising attitude of the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales this week has proved that any efforts by Vaughan Gething, particularly after his donations scandal, to influence party HQ in London get lost somewhere along the M4.

Only a vote for Plaid Cymru on 4th July will ensure that there are voices in Westminster determined to ensure that Wales and its most vulnerable citizens are not ignored.


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Linda Jones
Linda Jones
24 days ago

Agree its impossible to see much difference between Labour policies and those of the tories. Both adhere to monetarist economics, sucking wealth up to the already rich and further impoverishing the poor. We need change. We need a kinder more compassionate politics that works for the many. Tackling inequality should be the first priority.
Only Plaid can do this

Frank
Frank
24 days ago

It doesn’t matter which party is in government in Westminster it will still keep Cymru underfunded, poor and wanting. That way, when England is performing badly, they can always say: “But look at Wales. We, here in England, are not as underachieving as them.” Sunak has recently used the Welsh NHS as an example of how poorly it is run compared to England’s NHS. Yes Mr. Sunak, even though the Welsh NHS is run by the Senedd it is the government in Westminster that is underfunding the Welsh budget. On top of that we are treating more and more incomers… Read more »

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
24 days ago

Interesting and worrying issues have been raised in this article. There is however something missing. In its vague and fanciful plans for the economy and associated spending, Labour has been quiet about one very significant spending announcement. In his desperate desire to placate England’s right wing, empire mentality, Starmer has undertaken not only to maintain the UK’s so-called nuclear capability, but in addition, to build four more nuclear submarines. The numbers involved are astronomical. CND estimate that to replace the existing nuclear submarines and the de-commissioning of the existing submarines plus associated work will be in the region of £100billion.… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
24 days ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Entirely agree with this. What’s more, Labour give us a deafening silence on the matter of the economic model they have settled upon for the UK. It’s the same old neoliberal, core-periphery model that has crucified Wales for decades … “b-b-b-but redistribution” they say. Then stop insisting on holding Welsh sovereignty at Westminster where it is utterly drowned then.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
24 days ago

Jo Stevens did ‘Welsh Labour’ no favours but she may have done the rest of us a service…True Colours…Cindy’s birthday tomorrow….

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
24 days ago

I completely fail to see why Labour should opt to continue with an economic policy that was deemed as ‘economic illiteracy’ in 2010 as their economic policy for 2024. Indeed, the whole failed neoliberal project, that has been known as a failed project since 2008 should be jettisoned and new economic thinking should be embraced – maybe that expounded by John McDonell in Economics for the Many. They could also take on board the advice of Gary Stevenson on how to solve the huge inequality that is tearing our society apart, namely taxing the very rich properly. As it stands,… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
24 days ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

100% Padi. Hollol siomedig. The UK bears all the hallmarks of a slide into fascism. Both parties greasing the slide.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
23 days ago

I lost all hope of ever seeing change for the better when I woke up on Friday 13th December 2019, hearing the Tories had won the general election and boris johnson was prime minister and the uk became an embarrassment! I still feel the same way five years later!

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
22 days ago

I am expecting all those seats in South Wales to all turn Green for Plaid Cymru.

Wales has no future under Labour.

Wales needs no more Labour appeasement of Conservative centralised monopolist policies.

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