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Nova Cambria: What is behind the launch of Wales’ latest think tank?

21 Mar 2019 4 minute read
Nova Cambria

Rhys David, Chair of Nova Cambria

The launch of Nova Cambria, as an independent but Plaid-leaning think-tank ahead of the party’s Spring conference in Bangor this weekend, gives out important signals.

First, it is an indication that Plaid Cymru is serious about developing new mechanisms to develop a programme for government.

Secondly, it is a demonstration that the party is keen to engage with a broad range of views and to be outward looking in developing new policies.

And thirdly it is a statement of intent that Plaid wants to be in government following the 2021 elections. As the Western Mail (11 March) commented:

“Plaid Cymru’s announcement that it is launching an arms-length think tank and a new journal is evidence that the party leadership is taking seriously the aim of winning power at the next Senedd election in 2021.”

In a separate initiative, Plaid Cymru has established an Economic Policy Group, under the chairmanship of is Economics Adviser, Eurfyl ap Gwilym, which includes experts who are not members of the party. This is another demonstration that Plaid is serious about engaging with views that may be outside its comfort zone.

In turn, this should enhance Plaid’s credibility as an alternative party of government.

At a time when the Tories and Labour are splitting into warring factions over Brexit, Plaid is demonstrating unity and a confidence about opening itself up to new ideas, new influences, and new members. It is an essential process in demonstrating through action that it is truly the party of the whole of Wales.

Mind the gap

Some examples of Nova Cambria’s overarching approach can be viewed on our website Undoubtedly, the Welsh economy is our foremost priority. This will be the major challenge for an incoming Plaid Cymru government in 2021.

Without substantial improvements to our economic performance, we will be unable to fulfil our ambitions for employment, health and education and tackling the scourge of poverty in many of our communities.

Key themes we are aiming to address include:

  • Infrastructure – laying the foundations for a flourishing economy.
  • Shared prosperity – developing the economy for every corner of Wales.
  • Global Wales – selling Wales to the world and bringing the world to Wales.
  • The Digital Economy – making Wales a digital destination.
  • Wales Means Business – making Wales a competitive place to do business.

In developing new thinking around these themes we will address the following fundamental problems of the Welsh economy:

  1. The productivity gap: a function of low investment and low skills.
  2. The ownership gap: the relative absence of Welsh-owned firms and institutions.
  3. The infrastructure gap: the result of years of under-investment.
  4. The age gap: the effects of the Brain Drain on our long-term prospects.

Undoubtedly, the main problem facing our economy is persistently low levels of productivity which, in turn, are reflected in low Gross Value Added (GVA) per capita and low earnings. Productivity in Wales is approximately 80 per cent of the UK level which in turn is about 80 per cent of the level across the Group of Seven (G7) advanced countries.

Productivity is vitally important because it is the principal determinant of pay levels and job sustainability. In addition, we have the highest relative poverty rates in the United Kingdom, with nearly 200,000 children – that’s approaching one in three – living in poverty. Our goal, therefore, should be to develop an economic plan that will help generate and then share prosperity throughout Wales.

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