Can Plaid Cymru replicate the SNP’s success?

As Leanne Wood launches the party's manifesto, a former leader says Labour still looks like a better alternative for many Welsh voters


A hung parliament would provide Wales with an ‘unprecedented opportunity’, according to Plaid Cymru.

Launching the party’s manifesto this morning, party leader Leanne Wood called for a permanent end to end to austerity and for a rebalancing of the economy.

Speaking in the marginal seat of Arfon, which Plaid took in 2010 with a majority over Labour of just under 1,500 votes, Ms Wood declared:

“People in Wales are rightly sceptical of the rhetoric of the establishment parties. The four Westminster leaders offer us nothing more than further swingeing cuts to our public services and no commitment to securing an economic recovery for all.

“But this election provides Wales with an unprecedented opportunity. There will very likely be another hung parliament in May and the direction of the next government could come down to how strong a presence Plaid Cymru secures in Parliament at the election.

“The people of Wales can have faith in us. If Plaid Cymru holds the balance of power, we’ll rebalance power and wealth throughout the UK.  Away from the financial sector in the City of London and to communities such as those in Wales who need investment.”

She continued:

“We will fight for Wales every day and secure equality for our country with the other nations of the UK so we have the tools and the resources to unleash Wales’ economic potential and work towards world-class public services.”

Among the key policies outlined in Plaid Cymru’s manifesto are:

  • Securing the same powers for the Welsh Assembly and government as those enjoyed by the Scottish Parliament and government, through the devolution of further powers in areas such as policing; the legal system; broadcasting and the running of the train network as well as greater financial freedoms.
  • Introducing a new ‘Economic Fairness Bill’ to ensure any future UK government ‘would have to always assess the impact upon Wales of its economic plans before they’re put in place.’
  • Increasing the minimum wage to the same level as the living wage, whilst banning ‘exploitative zero hours contracts.’
  • Introducing a 50p tax rate for those earning over £150,000 a year whilst raising the personal allowance threshold at which National Insurance Contributions are paid, ‘with the aim of making this the same threshold for paying income tax, over the term of the parliament.’
  • Training and recruiting 1,000 additional doctors to work in the Welsh NHS.
  • Supporting, in principle, free higher education as exists in Scotland.
  • Halting the role out of Universal Credit subject to a comprehensive review and securing an ‘independent review on the use of benefit sanctions to ensure a humane and effective social security system.’
  • Opposing ‘the wasteful and unnecessary replacement of Trident’ as well as any attempts to locate the nuclear deterrent in Wales.
  • In the event of a referendum on EU membership, the UK should only be able to withdraw if all parts of the UK support such a move.
  • Supporting the re-nationalisation of the railway system.

The manifesto launch comes a day after the latest Welsh Political Barometer suggested that Plaid are not on course to make any further gains on top of the three seats that they held in 2010.

The launch was overshadowed by comments by the party’s former leader, Lord Elis-Thomas, who has concluded that Welsh voters still are not convinced by Plaid in the way that Scottish voters are by the SNP.

Noting that the party needed to show itself to be a credible alternative to Labour, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

“I have no issue with the decision of the Welsh people to vote for the Labour Party, because they clearly haven’t been convinced that we are a better alternative.

“In Scotland the SNP have convinced them, it seems to me from the polls, and therefore that’s our responsibility, we have to have a better election than we’ve ever had before.”

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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