Welsh elections: Labour, Plaid Cymru and Lib Dems’ key policies

A rundown of the key manifesto points for three major parties

The Senedd elections are less than a month away, and will be held in Wales on 6 May 2021.

This election will decide who will form the Welsh government, which deals with running many areas of people’s daily lives such as schools, transport and hospitals. 60 members will be elected to the Senedd Cymru – the Welsh Parliament – and this year will mark the sixth election since the Senedd was established in 1999.

The Senedd (formerly the National Assembly for Wales) elections are being held on the same day as the UK local elections and Scottish Parliament elections. As a result of the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020, this will be the first election that 16 and 17 years olds and legally resident foreign nationals will be allowed to vote in Wales.

Five parties had Members of the Senedd (MSs) elected at the last elections in 2016 – Welsh Labour, the Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the Welsh Liberal Democrats. Independents currently have six seats.

There are now seven political parties represented in the Senedd. Two further parties gained MSs who were elected for, and moved from, other parties. Abolish the Welsh Assembly gained two members who had been elected for UKIP in 2016 and Propel (previously the Welsh Nation Party) gained a member who had been elected for Plaid Cymru.

The current First Minister is Mark Drakeford, of Welsh Labour but while Labour was the largest party at the last election with 29 seats, the party didn’t win enough seats to govern without help from some opposing parties. They are supported by MS Kirsty Williams from the Lib Dems and Lord Elis-Thomas, a former Senedd politician from Plaid Cymru.

So who is standing in the 2021 elections for Welsh Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems are what are their key manifesto points?

Welsh Labour

The Welsh Labour Party has announced a number of key pledges under six major focus areas in its bid to win a sixth consecutive term in the Senedd elections 2021.

These key pledges are

  • Health: A Covid Recovery catch-up programme for the NHS and schools. Plus a new medical school in North Wales.
  • Education: A Young Persons’ Guarantee. The Party has pledged an offer of work, education or training for all under-25s.
  • Economy: The introduction of the Real Living Wage for all social care staff.
  • Environment: A greener future – the abolition of single-use plastics and the creation of a National Forest for Wales.
  • Community: Safer communities – the jobs of 500 police community support officers safeguarded and a further 100 employed.
  • Jobs: Creating thousands of jobs in a low-carbon house building revolution.

Speaking via a livestream in March, Mr Drakeford said the party is “setting out a platform to move Wales forward into the future with confidence and hope”.

“To build a brighter, fairer and more equal Wales for future generations. The Tories won’t build that future,” he added.

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru launched its manifesto on Tuesday (7 April), with a vision promising to transform Wales by 2030. The leader of the party is Adam Price.

A key point is its promise to hold an independence referendum, although Plaid would need to the largest party after the Senedd elections for that to happen.

Other points include the promise that, by 2030, the Welsh economy will be locally owned and pay high wages, people will live longer, fitter lives in a healthier society and racism, misogyny and other forms of discrimination and intolerance will be eradicated.

Some other key pledges from different focus areas are:

  • Health: Providing 6,000 extra healthcare professionals 4,000 nurses, planning for the recovery of health and social care services after Covid, delivering new diagnostic centres for cancer and other conditions, providing free personal care for the elderly, and a minimum wage of £10 an hour for care workers.
  • Education: Free school meals for all children in families receiving Universal Credit, 30 hours a week of free childcare for all children of 24 months and older, employ 4,500 extra teachers and specialist support staff in schools across Wales by the end of the party’s first term, lower maximum tuition fee chargeable to Welsh domiciled students at Welsh universities to £7,500, and a lifelong learning entitlement for retraining worth £5,000 for everyone over 25.
  • Economy: A £6bn ‘green economy stimulus’ to create 60,000 new jobs, a £35 per child per week top up for families living below the poverty line, a Youth Job Guarantee for 16-24-year-olds, and increasing role of Development Bank of Wales and supporting a Community Bank to help domestically-owned businesses grow.
  • Transport: Free bus travel for 16-24-year-olds, halve the proportion of car journeys by 2030 by investing in public transport, walking and cycling, and new west coast rail line and a Valleys CrossRail.
  • Environment: Pledge to reduce carbon emissions in Wales to net-zero levels by 2035, a Nature Act with statutory targets to restore biodiversity by 2050, providing quality and safe green space within a five-minute walk of all households, banning non-essential single-use plastics in 2021, ensuring no waste goes to landfill and ending waste incineration by 2030.
  • Housing: End rough sleeping forever through housing policy, building 50,000 new homes over five years, 30,000 of which would be council or social housing.

Plaid also wants to introduce a Welsh Language Education Act so every child can be fluent in Welsh. In the arts space, it wants to open a National Gallery of Contemporary Art outside of Cardiff and help the arts sector out of the pandemic by setting up a Welsh Freelancers Fund.

Welsh Lib Dems

Jane Dodds is the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrat Party.

The Lib Dems have also set out their manifesto in a long document. Here are the key points:

  • Environment: Spend £1bn a year to tackle the climate crisis
  • Housing: Build 30,000 new properties for social housing
  • Economy: Invest £500 million in high streets, towns and city centres. Carry out a trial of Universal Basic Income across Wales. Freeze business rates for five years and replace them with a fairer system.
  • Education: Universal, free, part-time childcare from age nine months until school age. Expanding before and after-school childcare.

Speaking at the launch event, Ms Dodds said: “The past year has been tough, life as we know it has changed, but I know Wales is a resilient country and we have the chance to build a better future for our children and our children’s children.

“We will secure our economic recovery, an environmental recovery and a recovery for our mental health services.”

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