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Rolling back the years

Betsan Powys | 15:17 UK time, Tuesday, 12 April 2011

It was a potent mix.

Cast your mind back to the last Assembly election in 2007. On the one hand there were those huge posters on lorries, driven relentlessly from one end of Wales to the other, declaring that now was the time to "kick Labour into touch." On the other hand the 7 for 07, policies designed to make Plaid Cymru stick in the voters' minds and persuade them that if they were fed up with Labour - and the polls suggested they were - then Plaid could be trusted in government.

In 2011?

This morning Plaid launched their manifesto pledging a blueprint that is "bold, workable, affordable and transformational". In other words their message is: Labour lack ambition for Wales and if you give them the chance to govern alone, simply because you're fed up with the Westminster coalition - and the polls suggest you are - then all Labour are capable of doing is managing Wales towards further decline.

On the other hand, they say, Plaid are thinking all the time about what can be done to improve 'Our Government, Our Economy, Our People and Our Environment". I won't list their policy pledges here. You can read their manifesto in full and to save you the bother, 'independence' is dealt with pretty swiftly on p.16.

Unfortunately for Plaid it turns out they misspelled the word "illiteracy" in Welsh in their press release and were wrong to attribute their key slogan and manifesto title, "Ambition is Critical" to Dylan Thomas. It was, in fact, penned by a retired social worker.

Who knew that the editor-cum-poet sitting in our morning meetings every day knew so much. Accuracy ... key and all that.

"Let's just see what Labour come up with" said one Plaid source this morning. The inference? Let's just see what that alleged dearth of ambition looks like on paper.

What Labour have come up with so far is an accusation that Plaid are "becoming a tad obsessional" with their former partners in government and this: "Actually, Plaid's manifesto contains many ideas that we broadly welcome, indeed who wouldn't support the idea that we want more jobs, quicker broadband and more effective healthcare".

By the way if you just can't get enough politics these days and fancy rolling back the years not just to 2007 but to 1999 - what were the parties promising back then, how do Alun, Dafydd, Rod and Mike differ from Carwyn, Ieuan, Nick and Kirsty - then take a look at 99 Rewind .

Tomorrow, it's the Lib Dems' turn to launch their manifesto. No sign of an advance copy yet - but then presumably it's being proof read by a professor of literature as we speak.


  • Comment number 1.

    Could have been worse, on the Quoting Dylan Thomas front I mean. What about;

    "Land of my fathers. My fathers can keep it"?

  • Comment number 2.

    Was it really Betsan who wrote of the Lib Dem manifesto ...

    "... but then presumably it's being proof read by a professor of literature as we speak."

    ......... meowwwww

  • Comment number 3.

    Now that Gordon Brown has admitted making mistakes that at least in part laid the foundations of the current economic shambles, can I assume that the BBC will politely question his party's denial of all responsibility for the mess we are in?

    Obviously, shy away if Leighton growls at you on Good Morning Wales.

  • Comment number 4.

    Accusation has 2 'c's.

    The moral high ground is a treacherous place.

  • Comment number 5.

    2. John Tyler wrote:

    "... but then presumably it's being proof read by a professor of literature as we speak."

    ......... meowwwww”

    I think that was a comment on the Plaid Cymru manifesto, not the Lib Dems one?
    I also think that “......... meowwwww” is just a little bit sexist.

  • Comment number 6.

    If you care to read Betsan's final paragraph Glyndo, I think you will find she is bemoaning the wait to receive the Lib Dem manifesto.

    ... relating to "meowwwww", cats are, like all mammals, of both genders, unless there is a serious sense of humour failure when a "straw-cat" becomes evident, get over it Glyndo, both genders use the "meowwwww" when a "miffed" reporter is detected ...........

  • Comment number 7.

    5. Glyndo "I think that was a comment on the Plaid Cymru manifesto, not the Lib Dems one?
    I also think that “......... meowwwww” is just a little bit sexist"

    How tedious and predictable and "anal" this sort of comment is!

  • Comment number 8.

    My, the Plaid manifesto must be boring if this is all you guys can go on about.

  • Comment number 9.

    The Plaid manifesto records a long list of aspirations. Fine as it goes. I suspect the other parties will also record a list of aspirations.

    What I as a voter require are the details of the means to meet these aspirational ends.

    I hope in the forthcoming interviews and reporting of the political parties policies there is some rigour to ensure that we are informed of their detailed intended actions to meet the warm aspirations.

    I personally am not bothered who penned "ambition is critical", even though it does not advertise Plaid's competence or attention to detail, I am concerned to be informed on what detailed actions the new Welsh Assembly Government will take to support economic growth, employment and the development of the country's infrastructure.

    I look forward to hard information on these topics in future.

  • Comment number 10.

    Oh …dear….. Oh dear ……Oh dear ... I have just viewed Betsan’s program on the election from Glyndwr University in Wrexham. On the panel were representatives from the four main parties. Oh dear ... the quality of debate was extremely low. I was totally embarrassed with all the speakers. School pupils would be much better than any one of the panel. What's wrong with us? If this is the standard of debate in our new Assembly then …. God help us.
    Literacy …… teach them to speak some common sense first!!!

  • Comment number 11.


    maybe you should read PC's manifesto before making the accusation that they list aspirations without explaining how they intend to achieve them? Just an idea...

  • Comment number 12.

    10. Just listened to radio programme from Wrexham and all four "speakers" were very poor,but particularly the PC/Labour people who seem to have forgotten that they were in power in Bay for past years.the fundamental problem is that in having a Wales own body its politicians seem to think that the rest of the world is'nt moving ahead faster than we are,and are allways in a "catch up" mode,which as we know from rugby is'nt really where you wish to be. The presenter Jason Mohammed is perpetually referring to "cuts" emanating from central government in London,however public expenditure as whole is set to increase in future years,and of which we still receive proportionally more than anybody,except the Scots. I listened to a CEO of major company who explained that any major "restructing" should be done in part of economic cycle when profits were high and people optimistic,well we in wales have been in that position from year 2000,and what happened ZILCH,except for funding "pet projects" of welsh nation building exercise. Put 10 top business people in charge,and with powers to put this right,with no restrictions and whole welsh economy and way of life could be changed in 6 months. The way we are going is that there are too many "sacred cows", and no fundamental changes will ever be put in place,until "subsidies" end from London as the english tell us to "sling our hooks".

  • Comment number 13.

    Number 11, alleges I have not read the Plaid manifesto.

    Let me just chose a selection of Plaid aspirations without detailed actions.

    "Plaid's Build 4 Wales Company will invest in hospitals, schools, housing and transport and create up to 50.000 new jobs across Wales."

    What is the legal basis of this company?
    Who will invest in it, what form will the dividends take for the investors?
    How will the hospitals, schools, housing and transport projects be chosen? Will these be over and above the usual allocation of capital resources by central and local government? Will the Company's resources be available to private developers ie for housing projects?
    When will the first investments by this Company be made?
    Which reputable economists have verified the creation of 50,000 new jobs across Wales in the lifetime of the next Assembly.

    "Plaids Small Business Bonus will not only provide a new £90 million small business loans scheme but will ensure continued tax relief to help develop our town centres and small businesses."

    Where is this £90 million coming from? Who will be entitled to apply for loans, what size of loan will be available? Will the loans provide working capital? Which businesses in town centres and small businesses outside town centres will be entitled to tax relief, where will this money come from?

    "Plaid will support 30,000 apprenticeships and will boost the skills and employability of young people across Wales"

    How many apprenticeships does the Welsh Assembly Government presently support? How much do these proposals cost, where is the money comig from? How will private companies and public sector organisations access support for apprenticeships? What specific skills will be prioritised?

    I am sure other readers also have a list of questions maybe some Plaid candidates can blog the answers?

  • Comment number 14.

    Alun Thomas at No 10 is dead right, the programme was dreadful. Not just the politicians, but I’m sorry to say, the whole production and presentation. Why is it that whenever BBC Wales does an election or a referendum we have the same old set up with four politicians sitting behind a desk facing an audience sitting on tiered seating and a presenter standing in no man’s land. We’ve seen it so many times before and we know by now that it’s deadly boring, that’s why we switch off.

    Betsan, your department needs a shake up.

  • Comment number 15.

    #12 I agree there is something slightly odd about a party that wants independence also complaining that the Welsh grant isn't big enough. And all politicians make a bit too much of the shortfall in the block grant. The Holtham Commission found it was £300-400 million a year, which is 2-3 per cent of the block grant, not around 20 per cent as you'ld imagine from all the fuss. It will get worse though, owing to the Barnett squeeze, unless the system is fixed at some point. Meanwhile let's get our facts right. It isn't true that Wales receives more per head than anyone except Scotland. London and Northern Ireland both get much higher levels of spending per head than Wales. Arguably Northern Ireland needs it on the basis of demographics and poverty but London and Scotland get too much. There's no chance this anomaly will be fixed so we have to tend our garden and get more prosperous by our own efforts.

    But if you think of all the businessmen who have been imported into the UK government, you'll notice that 90 per cent of them have been failures as Ministers so I don't think a government of businessmen is the solution. More politicians with experience of business though would be a very good thing.

  • Comment number 16.

    Post 9 is spot on. Having read the manifesto it is laudable in what PC wants to achieve yet ambiguous on how it will go about it. You would not think we were in a financial crisis with all the money they pledge to spend but with regard to cuts or balancing the books it is all the fault of those nasty English! This manifesto is systematic of all what is wrong with ALL the political parties we have to put up with - aspirational (fine) but deliberately vague on the practicality (not fine).

    No educational league tables but performance reports instead - what a joke.

    "we don't want to be the subject of EU handouts but as we are the equivalent of Albania we'll grab what we can with a new Eurpean office" - no shame then.

    House prices are far too high on this island and have been forced up through speculation - "we will do what we can to reinforce these high prices by intervening in the market for those that currently cannot afford a house", my apologies if I misquoted their actual statement.

    Finally the "build for Wales company" - how many jobs is it promising this week from god knows where the funds are coming from. iis Mr Delorean still interested in making cars? Maybe those folk at Rover who took the money and ran could be enticed back with a few quid. Sorry didn't realise there would be all these green jobs - I suggest the unemployed could be made to cycle on exercise bikes to feed the National grid rather than give landowners even more subsidy to turn acres in to giant solar panels (it would help with the obesity targets too)

    Happy days.

  • Comment number 17.

    For Plaid Cymru, read Labour Party, read Conservative Party, read Liberal Democrats ....

    As Alexis de Tocqueville wrote (Democracy in America) during the first half of the 19th century of America ...

    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."

    ... here in Wales our politicians have applied the model with gusto, the politics of Wales bribe the electorate with money it doesn't have, each party equally complicit in "de Tocqueville" prediction, so, what next for Wales ...

    ... breaking news, Professor Teresa Rees ( ) said the different rates for a university education across the UK were "barking", by the same token you might apply her findings to the NHS. Some find devolution in its current form to be "barking" ......

  • Comment number 18.

    A manifesto for victims.

    If England would give us more money our problems would be solved.
    If England didn't have a better health service ours would be able to perform better
    If England didn't squander money on education thenWelsh education would be better.

    The victim mentality of Plaid is clear. What is less clear is why they refuse to take responsibilty for their failures over the last four years when they have shared power!

  • Comment number 19.

    @ #13, paul luckock wrote:

    "Number 11, alleges I have not read the Plaid manifesto.

    Let me just chose a selection of Plaid aspirations without detailed actions.

    "Plaid's Build 4 Wales Company will invest in hospitals, schools, housing and transport and create up to 50.000 new jobs across Wales.""

    You've just quoted one sentence from many paragraphs where the manifesto explains how PC intend to achieve this. Granted, they don't go into the level of detail you seem to expect, but then what manifesto would? I do think that PC's manifesto is too much like an advertising brochure, with too many pictures and not enough detail for those that are interested, but that's a symptom of modern British politics. In my opinion, it's a shame that PC didn't buck the trend. However, it's just plain wrong of you to say that PC listed aspirations without explaining how they intended to achieve them, and if you did read the manifesto, then that dishonesty is deliberate: shame on you.

    Posts 15 and 16 berate PC for expecting fair funding from the political entities of which Wales is a member (the UK and the EU). I really don't get this argument. Wales is a part of the UK and of the EU now, whatever PC's long term aspirations may be. Wales is also poor, now. What is the point of being a member of a political entity which exists in part to redistribute wealth among its members unless Wales accept those subsidies which are available? PC's long term aspirations are for Wales to leave the UK (so not require the subsidies) and to be a prosperous member of the EU (so not require the subsidies) but NOW, those subisides are available, and if Wales don't make use of them, then richer countries will.

  • Comment number 20.

    Arifach I agree with you that on one level plainly if the money is there then take it however subsidy is just another word for speculation and when "regeneration" forces unrealistic models on an economy then you get an inflated system which eventually breaks down for example the Eire situation where for years billions were pumped into their economy from the EU. It may be that you decide to hell with the consequences lets pretend everything is OK for a few years and make hay when the sun shines just like the Celtic tiger mirage, but future generations will most certainly pay for such folly. My worry is that those who think least about the long term are the one with most to gain - politicians with their eyes fixed solely on the next election day.

  • Comment number 21.

    Re 20

    I think your description of how things went wrong in Ireland is a tad inaccurate. You state that the Republic of Ireland's problems arose from the fact that "billions were pumped into their economy from the EU". Well, that money was largely spent very wisely on infrastructure - roads and IT; it was how the economy was then allowed to spiral out of control - the same kind of greed that affected most of the rest of the world - that caused the crisis.

  • Comment number 22.

    sorry Fodafydd you cannot buy a road off the shelf from Tescos,you spend the money on the labour and materials which in turn creates demand for that sector fuelling inflationary pressures in all other areas as land,wages and prices play catch up with the one that is suddenly laying the golden eggs. I travelled around Eire at the time and road after road had the big "Financed by the EU" advert alongside them. Internal demand did not bring about these projects just a desperation to spend other countries money given freely by the Eu as a bribe to sweeten the peoples commitment to the grand project which is one federal sate. - the pump breaks down eventually though and whats left cannot sustain the inflated economy around it.

  • Comment number 23.

    Re 22

    And I'm sorry, mr beige, but your answer is a load of nonsense. What you're saying here is just a case against any kind of investment by anyone, anyhwere at any time. Are you seriously saying that there was no 'internal demand' for better roads and IT infrastructure in Ireland?

    And then you explain your animosity by showing yourself to be another right wing anti-European.


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