Llythyr Wales on Sunday/Wales on Sunday Letter

As an avid fan of the weekly politics column by Matt Withers in the Wales on Sunday I was rather surprised at his comments in relation to Plaid’s first signature policy for the forthcoming General Election. If you follow the line of thought expressed in the article there wouldn’t be a point in Plaid announcing any policies or even contesting Welsh constituencies. Protecting our pensioners has been a cornerstone of the Welsh radical political tradition since David Lloyd George introduced a weekly benefit in 1908 with the ‘Old Pensions Act’. It’s right and proper in the face of the severe poverty faced by today’s pensioners that Plaid as the inheritors of the radical Welsh political tradition make a stand against New Labour’s failed means testing policy.

As a prospective Parliamentary candidate I am proud that our first red line for any post election negotiations in the event of a hung Parliament will be a social justice issue. With all the UK parties framing the election debate around the need to decimate public investment, we are offering something different – a policy that will improve the lives of the most vulnerable in society. Readers will not need reminding that the NHS was born at an age when the UK was bankrupt following the costs of the Second World War – when our public deficit as a percentage of GDP was nearly double what it is now , at 150% of GDP compared to today’s 80%. By voting for Plaid, the people of Wales will decide on what basis we negotiate with the London parties in the event of a hung Parliament.

Our opponents say any spending commitments are unaffordable due to the public deficit, in their lust to follow a right wing political doctrine of massacring public services. The public deficit is admittedly serious. However Japan ’s current deficit is 198% and they have no problem getting favourable borrowing rates despite losing the AAA status. The priority has to be investing to stimulate and sustain economic recovery. A policy of slashing public expenditure would remove the floorboards from beneath the economy leading to a double dip recession – effectively increasing the public deficit as tax revenue dries up. It’s a tragedy that all London parties are signed up to doing exactly that – a policy direction that will have a disproportionately negative effect on public sector reliant economies such as ours as well as destroying the services that the most vulnerable in society are reliant upon.

Our policy of uprating pensions would lead to an effective redistribution of wealth towards Wales due to our more elderly population and significantly more cash circulating in local economies. It will be paid for by ditching Trident and other regressive initiatives such as ID Cards and tax cuts for the super rich as proposed by both Labour and the Tories.

The choice at the General Election faced by the people of Wales is crystal clear. A radical policy programme proposed by Plaid with the aims of securing a fair deal for Wales and its people or the same old establishment orientated polices of the London parties.

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