Plaid Cymru - Plaid Cameron?

I've managed to catch up with the BBC's coverage of the Labour Party conference held over the weekend. It was an unpleasant job, but someone had to do it. I was rather amused to find that one of their new slogans was "Plaid Cymru - Plaid Cameron".

As I mentioned in this post on Saturday, for a party that claims the Westminster election is a straight choice between them and the Tories, Labour do seem to be rather more concerned about Plaid Cymru than they want to admit. Welsh Ramblings picked up on the same theme when commenting on Wayne David's pre-conference article on Wales Home.

So what is this new set of double standards that seems to have pervaded the Labour Party? Peter Hain has been pressing his "It's us or the Tories" mantra for some time. So things must be getting desperate if he now needs to appeal to Plaid and LibDem voters to help Labour out, mustn't they?

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The simple fact is that the Tories are going to be the largest party in the Commons after the next election. There is no real doubt about that. It is not just a matter of percentages and swings compared to the last election. One of the major things that will make a difference is that the Boundaries Commission has redrawn a number of constituencies, particularly in England, and this will help remove one of the most outrageous anomalies of the 2005 election; namely that the Tories got more votes in England than Labour did, but Labour still got 92 more English seats than the Tories.

So if the Tories won most of the English vote even in 2005, of course they're going to do even better this time round. Labour are fooling themselves by letting themselves think they'll form the next government at Westminster.

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Will it be nice to be ruled by the Tories? Of course it won't. We know that they will use the current financial crisis as a pretext for public spending cuts, and we know that they will do nothing to shift the burden of taxation from the poor to the rich.

But what makes anyone think that Labour will do anything different? Just take two examples of Labour's taxation policy during the time they have been in office. First, when the Tories said they would reduce inheritance tax, Labour's response was to reduce inheritance tax too because Gordon Brown was terrified he would lose the votes of middle England. Second, in order to try and prove he had been a great Chancellor, Gordon Brown's final flourish was to abolish the 10p starter rate of income tax in order to make better off people even better off. When he realized this was a mistake, instead of reinstating it he decided instead to reduce every standard rate tax payer's bill, which he chose to do by borrowing the money to pay for it. Thus we remain in the scandalous position of the burden of taxation being higher for the poor than it is for the rich. That's what Labour are really like.

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Now I accept that the Tories won't do as well in Wales as they will in England. But that doesn't mean that Labour have Wales' interests at heart. One simple graph from the Holtham Commsiion's report shows what they think of public spending in Wales:
 

     

This shows that when the Labour Party came to power, relative spending in Wales was at about 125% of that in England. But the differential has halved in those thirteen years. Meanwhile in Scotland, which also had higher spending levels, the relative percentage did not fall in the same way. In fact in the last six years it went up, as I mentioned here.

It doesn't take any genius to figure out why. Labour need to keep Scotland sweet because of the threat from the SNP ... but they reckoned they could get away with systematically short-changing Wales because they thought the people of Wales would always vote for them.

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The only difference between the Tories and Labour is that we all know what the Tories are like. They may be ******** but at least they're honest about the cuts they'll make. Labour are blatant hypocrites, because they say they'll protect Wales, but their track record proves that they'll do the exact opposite.

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So is a vote for Plaid a vote for Cameron? Although the Tories will win more seats than Labour, it's highly unlikely that they'll get an overall majority. So what difference will it make if the Tories are opposed by Labour MPs or LibDem or Plaid MPs? In arithmetical terms it will make no difference at all.

But it will make a difference in terms of Wales' best interests. Unlike Labour, Plaid MPs will fight for Wales because getting the best deal for Wales is our only priority. Labour and LibDem MPs will always have a potential conflict of interest between what is best for the UK and what is best for Wales. If we need an example of that, just look at the hypocrisy of Labour MPs in Wales who campaigned for local services such as Post Offices in order to make headlines in the local media, but who then voted in Westminster to close them. They had no backbone. The party whips would not tolerate dissent, and these Welsh Labour MPs just did what they were told rather than stand up for their constituents.

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Labour have long ceased to be a radical party or a party of the left. Blair reinvented Labour so that it was indistinguishable from the Tories, and Gordon Brown just carried on where he left off.

Peter Hain likes to kid himself that Labour still have a place in progressive politics. That is not only an inappropriate way to think about what the Labour Party has now become, but singularly offensive coming from a man who used the bogus Progress Peter Forum as a vehicle to conceal funds intended only for his own political advancement.

Hain, every bit as much as the party he speaks for, insults all of us who do want to see progressive politics.

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Despite the current slightly more encouraging news for Labour i don't think they'll be in government for long. Quite simply the UKIP protest vote will go to the Tories and a lot of floating voters will think, 'do I really want Gordon Brown in power for 5 more year?'

In that respect the old Labour mantra that voting Plaid was a 'wasted' vote is redundant. Plaid won't be in power in London ... but nor will Labour. A Labour MP is as much (more in my view) of a 'wasted' vote or seat as a Plaid one.

As you say, Scotland gets a better deal precisely because the SNP are stronger.

Vote Labour = wasted vote.

M

Siônnyn said...

MH - once again, first rate analysis. I hope you are involved in drafting the manifesto!

Peter Hain is so slimy, that to call him a snake would be an insult to reptiles. Elfyn Llwyd is looking more and more statesmanlike everyday. He was good - low key but effective- on question time, and was honest and open whilst Hain was devious and evasive, and lucky for Hain that Farage was there to draw the flack.

(Farage - a foreign name? French, or Belgian perhaps?)

Labour haven't been radical since Attlee. However, what is to say that being radical is a good thing if things are working? Complacency has lead the current lot to believe that they have achieved perfection, especially Welsh Labour (with a few honourable, talented but un-rewarded exceptions), and so they have become more 'conservative' - resistant to change - than the Tories.

Thatcher was Radical. Hitler was radical. Mussolini - Pinochet . . . the list of radicals goes on and on.

Blair was conservative.

Radicalism is not in itself virtuous.

Many Plaid supporters and members are not radical. Farmers are not radical. Most trades unionists are not radical. We have to make sure that Plaid speaks for them as much as it does for the unemployed.

Dafydd El did us much harm when he took over as leader, still a radical Marxist then, who would have died rather than kowtowed to the Queen of England. He does us much harm now as the slavering surf he has become.

Anyway - this is the end of therant. Plaid should stick to the middle of the road and stick to being a coalition of diverse opinion, united only in the desire to see Wales freed from its colonial Yokes.

MH said...

Rant all you want, Siônnyn, I'd be more concerned if people weren't angry.

Strange you should mention Question Time. I've just received a copy of a very eloquent letter of complaint about it which I'll put up later.

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