A pig in a poke

During the campaign for the Westminster election in May, the Tories promised that they would deliver £12bn of welfare cuts ... but refused point-blank to tell us what, exactly, they were going to cut. Of course nobody doubted that they could make this level of cuts, but if they'd been specific about what they were going to cut, a lot of people might have had second thoughts about voting for them.

Yesterday, Plaid Cymru took a leaf directly out of that Tory book. They made a promise that, if elected next May, they would generate all Wales' electricity from renewable sources within 20 years ... but refused point-blank to tell us how they intended to do it.


     BBC report | Wales Online report

As with the Tories and their welfare cuts, nobody doubts that Wales can produce more electricity from renewable sources than we consume. Although, to be precise, this isn't the same as saying that all Wales' electricity would come from renewables, but is probably what Plaid would have said if they'd thought more clearly about it. That in itself should give people a good idea of how seriously Plaid have thought this through.

But, to make that point more forcibly, we need to ask why Plaid only intend to produce this "route map" after they've been elected. What new information will be available next summer that isn't available right now? It's not as if there is some "secret" information that will only be available to Plaid Cymru if they form the next government.

In short, this policy announcement, as it stands, is nothing more than a confidence trick.


So what are Plaid Cymru playing at?

As I see it, there are two factors at play.

The first is blunt, but honest. There is no way that Plaid Cymru have a hope in hell of forming the next government of Wales. Plaid Cymru might, if they're very lucky, win one or two more seats next May, but (especially with the rise of UKIP) it is actually far more likely that they will lose one or two seats. In other words, they're pretty sure that they will never be called upon to deliver this "route map". It's the luxury of being in opposition.

The second is that if they were clear about how they intended to achieve it, they think (wrongly, in my opinion) they would alienate people and therefore stand even less chance of winning any new seats. However they formulate the renewable energy generating mix, it will mean many more wind farms and/or solar parks and/or tidal lagoons in Wales ... and will also mean new grid connexions to link these to the gird. Remember that only about 10% of our electricity is currently generated from renewables. We have a very long way to go.

From my time as a Plaid Cymru insider, I know that the party is all over the place when it comes to energy. Their policies in this area are hopelessly contradictory, and no-one is strong enough to unite the various factions and narrow interest groups within the leadership.

So, as it stands, this announcement should be, and will be, seen as nothing more than a joke. If Plaid Cymru want to be taken seriously, the answer is simple. Produce this "route map" now—before the election, not after it—and, if it's any good, they might be pleasantly surprised at how many people vote for Plaid because of it.

That's the way honest politics is meant to work. Only a party of charlatans could expect the public to buy a pig in a poke.

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Anonymous said...

You haven't taken your expulsion from the party very well have you?

MH said...

As I said at the time, telling the truth is more important than Plaid Cymru will ever be ... and if you don't like it, tough.

You need to learn how to be an open and honest party if you want to win power. Why not start with this?

Anonymous said...

How is this compatible with Plaid's support for Wylfa B?

MH said...

Wylfa B simply isn't compatible with 100% of Wales' power coming from renewables, 23:07. Taken at face value, saying that all Wales' electricity will be from renewables means that all non-renewable generation will have to be shut down.

But the other question is whether Plaid actually does support Wylfa B. At conference after conference Plaid has voted repeatedly against any new nuclear power in Wales. The problem is that Plaid's weak leadership are afraid to say this in public because they have been cowed by a few narrow interest groups who hold power in the National Executive, and a few prominent figures in the party have tried to propagate the lie that Wylfa B is an exception. Until Plaid actually deals with this problem, what they say on energy will lack credibility.

Anonymous said...

Elect us first, and THEN we'll tell you what policies you've voted for. Forget it.

WelshnotBritish said...

Will 'Trawsfynydd Newydd' be an exception too?

Hogyn o Rachub said...

I had a very similar discussion to this a couple of weeks back. Not on energy (I pretty much disagree with you on energy matters), but on Plaid Cymru's general tendency to say "This is what we'll do" without any plan to back that up. It's very, very detrimental to the party and makes them look like they're not sure what they're doing - which at the moment, they don't.

Plaid Cymru need to consider what they're going to say before saying it. They need figures, statistics, plans, strategies - even simple ones - to show to people how they're going to achieve what they say they're going to achieve. This sort of medium to long term thinking appears to me completely absent in the party.

I don't just mean that on a policy level - the party itself doesn't know where it's going to be in a few years time, or rather they don't know where they want to be. Because of that, they're going nowhere. Plaid Cymru is desperately lacking a long-term strategy, and I'm afraid it shows.

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