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Opinion

Robin Millar’s ‘New Conservative’ agenda would be a disaster for Bangor Aberconwy

06 Jul 2023 4 minute read
Robin Millar picture by Richard Townsend (CC BY 3.0).

Catrin Wager, Plaid Cymru Parliamentary Candidate for Arfon

On Monday, a new political pressure group launched in Westminster, causing a bit of a flurry in political circles. Calling themselves the ‘New Conservatives’, this group of 25 MPs stand firmly to the right of the political barometer, aiming to put pressure on Sunak on issues such as immigration, law and order and what they perceive as the threat of ‘woke’ ideals. Among this cabal sits Robin Millar, current MP for Aberconwy, and Conservative candidate for the new Bangor Aberconwy seat.

The New Conservatives launched with a rallying cry – to get tough on immigration, echoing Rishi’s promise to ‘Stop the Boats’. But these guys want to take it further. And they claim to have a plan. Most striking of the New Conservatives 12-point plan, is the call to scrap Health and Care Visas for migrant workers, ignoring the reason that visa is offered in the first place – the desperate need to fill health and care vacancies.

The New Conservatives claim that scrapping this will cut the numbers of new visas issued by 117,000. But let’s flip that claim on its head. Could cutting the Health and Care Visa therefore lead to 117,00 fewer health and care workers?

You don’t have to be in need of care yourself to know that the care industry is in crisis. Local authorities and the private sector are actively trying to recruit new staff, with Cyngor Gwynedd’s aptly named ‘SOS Daretocare’ campaign suggesting the true depth of the problem. As Christina McAnea, general secretary of UNISON stated, the UK Government has “done nothing to solve the growing crisis in care.  Now a group of its MPs want ministers to make things a whole lot worse.”

Across Wales it is anticipated an extra 20,000 care workers need to be recruited by 2030 to meet the growing demands of an ageing population. The population of the current constituency of Aberconwy is older than the national average, with around 34.9% of residents aged over 60, compared to a UK average of 24.3%. Surprising therefore that the MP of this constituency would call for a reduction in a workforce that is already chronically understaffed. Diolch Mr Millar.

Own goal

Another own goal in this in terms of Mr Millar’s new potential seat, is the call the New Conservatives have made for UK university places to be restricted to only the ‘brightest’ students. Now I’m in no position to comment on the academic capabilities of international students in Bangor (and I don’t want to either), neither do I have insight into the business model of Bangor University. But it is reported that 1 in 5 students at UK universities now come from overseas, and that the significant fees these students pay (between £10,000-£38,000 a year) are a fundamental income stream for UK universities.

Given that in some areas of Bangor over 20% of the population was born outside of the UK, much higher than the Gwynedd average, it wouldn’t be incongruous to assume that Bangor has its fair share of international students. Neither is it too much of a leap of the imagination to assume that international students provide a valuable income stream for Bangor University, as well as contributing to the wider local economy as international students tend to do. What effect would Mr Millar’s 12-point plan have on Bangor University? And what effect would it have on Bangor itself? A city where a wonderful mix of internationalism and distinct Welsh character make it truly special.

Disastrous

Education, health and social care are amongst the biggest employers in the area.  And with the health and social care sector already facing staffing shortages, and the majority of UK universities facing financial difficulties due to the disastrous effects of Brexit, the impact of the New Conservatives 12-Point Plan on Bangor Aberconwy would be disastrous.

So, I’m left perplexed as to why Millar would align himself to the New Conservatives. Is it an attempt to win the hearts and minds of this vast new area? If so, it demonstrates a distinct lack of awareness of the major economic drivers in the Western part of the seat, and the demographics needs of the current Aberconwy constituency.

I’m left wondering if this plan is based on nothing more than pure xenophobia, and fear mongering. If so, for the sake our residents, and our communities, I sincerely hope the good people of Bangor Aberconwy see this plan for what it is, and say ‘Dim Diolch’ to Mr Millar, and his band of cronies.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

I share your sentiment…

Although I’m a LSR voter I will canvas for you…

Last edited 9 months ago by Mab Meirion
Rob
Rob
9 months ago

Talk about going against the interests of your own constituents for the sake of your narrow minded British nationalism (yet they have the nerve to attack Welsh nationalism as narrow minded). So much for the rational choice theory. As Bill Clinton once said ‘Its the economy stupid’

MandiA
MandiA
9 months ago

Millar is a director of Conservative Union Research Ltd based at the HoC who look out for ways to strengthen the union of the UK nations, so quite an easy target for Plaid. I remember very well the way people in Bangor responded when a student about to sit her final exams in engineering was threatened with deportation. Thousands signed a petition, the University, Church and many others combined to protect her. Can’t see any of them voting for Mr Millar.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
9 months ago

New Conservative seems to me increasingly to suggest something more sinister than your average Tory. Recently the American political commentator Robert Reich came out and called those on the far-right in America ‘fascists’, for whatever small degree of difference there may be between them and full blown fascists, they serve as an encouragement to fascists. Thus far the New Conservatives seem to display a slightly larger degree of difference from their US counterparts, but nonetheless they fan the flames and encourage and enbolden the fascists among us. For those who hesitate, consider the actions of Home Secretary Braverman, with her… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by Padi Phillips
hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

People on here should be guided by your reluctance to use the F word. Far too often it’s become the default for those too lazy to construct a logical rational response. Oh and Ms Wager does a smashing job of dismantling Mr Millar’s crude ideas. Have found myself not agreeing much with her in the past but this was bang on the money.

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
9 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

b******s l

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

He is in cahoots with that Sarah Atherton, the Wrecsam Tory MP…

The Fat Shanks’ effect…

It presents in various ways, but it has done as much to harm the nations of the UK as Covid…

Cameron, Osborne and Brexit held us down and Fat Shanks got his mates to give us a good kicking while he laughed and partied at our expense…

Curse Tablet anyone…

Last edited 9 months ago by Mab Meirion
Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
9 months ago

Another Tory who can’t read the room who is part of a racist group within a party that was not racist enough for them. He sits as an MP in a country which denounces racism and demonstrates that in the way that it votes. He is only there because of the 2019 second Break-it referendum which was billed as a General Election and now his group are pushing the hate button as their only hope of survival. I sincerely hope the voters of the new Bangor Aberconwy constituency remember what his band of brigands has done to their lives whilst… Read more »

MandiA
MandiA
9 months ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Millar only has a small majority of 2,034. His predecessor Guto Bebb had just over 3000. Hywel also suffered with tiny majorities. All Plaid has to do is to get out its vote, it takes legwork and well-constructed arguments, hopefully under Rhun perfectly achievable. You have to focus on the goal of getting the Tories out of Wales and put internal squabbles aside for another day.

Mawkernewek
Mawkernewek
9 months ago

There isn’t anything new about the New Conservatives, they are only channeling the ghost of Enoch Powell, whose views weren’t new then.

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
9 months ago

Fascism by another name!

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
9 months ago

On reading the article again, I picked up on the word ‘brightest’. The definition of this word in this context is being exorbitantly rich combined with the irrelevance of between the ears abilities. Look where having Etons’ ‘brightest’ has got us.

Erisian
Erisian
9 months ago

They are trying to borrow the US Republican playbook.
They have nothing to offer the UK and less than nothing for Wales.
Follow the money.

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
9 months ago

Progressive Alliance please! From a Llanrwst resident.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
9 months ago

This is not just an attack on international students. If there is a call to limit UK university places to just the “brightest” students, what do you think this means for Welsh students?? Wales is among the poorest “regions” of the UK. Even some of the “brightest” students in Wales won’t make the grade given the educational standards in Wales compared to England and the level of competition involved with more privileged students from over the border. If Universities cannot recoup the income lost from international students, they will rake it in elsewhere, meaning that privileged students will benefit at… Read more »

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