Plaid Cymru the Party of Wales Manifesto


Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales Manifesto 2001

The Main Themes of the election of 2001
Introduction by Ieuan Wyn Jones President Plaid Cymru The Party of Wales

The people of Wales have a clear choice in this coming election.

Since the last Westminster election in 1997 the political landscape has changed radically following the introduction of devolution in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. And there is no doubt that the most significant political change in Wales over this period has been the growth of the Party of Wales, which has had an opportunity to play a more prominent part in the life of our nation than ever in its history. As well as operating as the main opposition in the National Assembly, we control three local councils, have an important presence on councils throughout Wales, and hold two of the five European seats in Wales.

As we strengthen our position in the political mainstream, it has become increasingly evident to the people of Wales that we are the party to stand up for their interests, and for the interests of Wales at several different tiers of government. The clear message in this election is that we, and we alone, are the party to stand up for their interests at the Westminster Parliament too.

There are two principal themes that are central to our election campaign - the need for a fairer economic and social policy on the one hand, and for adequate powers for Wales on the other.

The new millennium has started at a time that is exciting in many ways for Wales.

Obtaining a measure of devolution through the establishment of the National Assembly was an important step forward for us as a nation, realising the aspiration of generations of our compatriots. Hand in hand with this political evolution the general growth in awareness of Welshness has continued, and this vitality is evident in many aspects of our cultural life.

Yet, the growth in our sense of identity and self-confidence as a nation is not reflected in the economic condition of Wales. In fact our country has suffered deeply in the wake of the policies of the last 20 years and more.

The enormous damage done to the economy of Wales during the 18 years of Tory governments that were forced on the people of Wales is evident to all. What is disappointing to many is that New Labour has pursued similar policies since the historic victory of 1997.

Recent blows suffered by manufacturing, steel in particular, demonstrate the savage effects of the Blair-Brown policy agenda on our economy and communities.

The centre-right mindset in favour of low public expenditure which currently dominates politics in Britain has led to the fact that Britain is the most unequal state in Europe.

This inequality is evident geographically as well as socially. Since Wales is a poor region compared with the whole of the United Kingdom, policies that favour the rich have dealt us a particularly heavy blow.

Along with the inequality in wealth, low public spending has led to a serious deterioration in our public services, and the state of our health service is a deplorable for a developed country.

Challenging this centre-right mindset in British politics is central for any party wishing to improve the lives of the people of Wales. In addition to being a core element of our most important values as a nation, fighting for a fairer society is an essential part of protecting our interests.

A key demand in this election campaign will be for reform in the way Wales is funded.

In view of our deteriorating economy, our poor health record and the higher than average proportion of elderly in our population, we need a system which gives more consideration to the needs of Wales instead of the Barnett formula which decides the budget of the National Assembly. We call also for the implementation of economic and monetary policies which will enable Wales to achieve its economic potential.

Our great task as a party will be to take forward the devolution process. Plaid Cymru sees the establishment of the National Assembly as the beginning of a process of taking increasing responsibility for our own fate. But it has become increasingly evident over the last two years that there are fundamental weaknesses in the current constitutional arrangements. The lack of clarity concerning the powers of the Assembly has seriously hampered its operation.

Legislative powers are a must - and as soon as possible - to enable it to function properly. To this end, the Party of Wales will introduce a bill to give Wales a legislative parliament similar to that of Scotland.

We are also determined to see Wales having a greater voice in Europe. Far reaching changes will occur over the coming years, and how the European Union evolves is of the greatest import to Wales.

In a rapidly shrinking world, in which globalisation consistently erodes the nation-state's traditional power, we see the increasing trend towards unity in Europe as an opportunity, not a threat. However, we must continue to press for reforms in the institutions of the European Union which will make it more democratic, and which will permit a greater voice for Wales and small nations and regions throughout Europe. The Party of Wales has a unique contribution to offer in this election. We are the only party to be able to guarantee complete loyalty to Wales. At the same time, our economic and social message is relevant to the whole of Britain, as is our call for more global co-operation and for a foreign policy that seeks to create a fairer and more peaceful world.

This then is the political agenda we shall be pushing over the next parliamentary term, and Party of Wales Members of Parliament will collaborate with other members of similar intent towards realising different aspects of it.

This manifesto offers an ambitious vision together with practical plans and policies, identifying us as a party which, while aiming high, has its feet firmly on the ground.

We invite all who have the welfare of Wales at heart to join with us in the task of ensuring justice and a confident national future for our country.

IEUAN WYN JONES

President Plaid Cymru The Party of Wales


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