The voice of Wales

Leanne Wood says people can make Wales count like never before on May the 7th

All indicators are pointing towards a parliament with no party having overall control. This presents an opportunity for people in Wales to make ourselves heard in Westminster, end austerity, and bring home the powers to develop the economically strong and socially just society we want to see here.

General Election Series

Ahead of the general election each of the six main parties were invited to contribute to Click on Wales about why they should have your vote on the 7th May. This series will run an article from one party each day up until the general election. Read all of the articles here.

In Wales, we have already experienced coalition and minority governments since the advent of devolution. The current minority Labour government in Cardiff has had to provide concessions to Plaid Cymru to pass its budgets, which meant we secured apprenticeships for young people and a science park to nurture high value jobs. As part of the One Wales Government 2007-2011, we were able to deliver significant new powers and an independent commission confirming that our nation is underfunded. At Westminster, although a formal coalition is not an attractive prospect, a vote-by-vote or issue-by-issue arrangement would mean the Party of Wales could get the best deal for Wales.

Along with the need to end austerity, one of the messages that is resonating with the people I speak with is the need for equality with Scotland. During the referendum there, the Westminster parties guaranteed to maintain the Barnett formula, locking in our funding disadvantage, as well as proclaiming we are a ‘family of nations’. If Wales was funded to the same level as Scotland this would amount to an extra £1.2bn a year for our schools, hospitals and for investment in our economy. Why should Wales be treated as a 2nd class nation whilst Scotland is offered more powers and guaranteed its funding? The Party of Wales will work to ensure that Wales gets that equality.

According to the IFS earlier this year, Labour’s plans mean cuts in excess of £1bn to the Welsh budget over the course of the next parliament. Devastating cuts already delivered from London have been made worse by Labour mismanagement of education and health and they have failed to stand up and protect Wales from Tory-led policies. More damaging Westminster austerity would affect on vital public services here.

Plaid Cymru believes that balancing the books can only occur when the economy itself is rebalanced. We have a plan to modestly increase spending so that businesses and communities have the space to prosper. By focusing on growing a balanced economy, we can increase the tax take and bring down the deficit responsibly over time.

We calculate this could result in the deficit being down to just 2 per cent of GDP by 2020.

Our plan for a 1% of UK GDP increase in infrastructure investment would amount to a £1bn share for Wales to be spent on developing our transport network and energy efficiency projects and boosting the economy. Borrowing for investment when interest rates are at historic lows makes sense, and not doing so represents a missed opportunity as it grows the economy which in turn results in greater tax receipts to help pay down the deficit.


Leanne Wood is the leader of Plaid Cymru and assembly member for South Wales Central.

21 thoughts on “The voice of Wales

  1. To be precise the independent commission confirmed that Wales was underfunded at the time that it reported. Since then public expenditure in Wales relative to that in England has risen and it is not at all clear that we are still underfunded or not at least to the same extent. Scotland is of course very overfunded relative to English regions so asking for parity with them is no longer asking for fairness it is asking for special treatment – to get more than the English give themselves, even adjusted for need. That seems a strange demand from a party that ultimately wants independence. A more defensible demand would be to remove the £4 billion overfunding the Scots get, if that were rediistributed around the UK on an equitable basis, Wales would get at least £200 million a year more. There is no identity of interest between Scotland and Wales. Plaid’s naive hero-worship of the SNP is preventing them standing up for Wales’ interests as they should. Wales can get more, fairly, only if Scotland gets less..

  2. Gerald an obvious point but well made. It is strange that this is rarely said by political parties. Are they afraid of appearing anti Scottish or anti Welsh? If the SNP gain nearly all the Scottish seats will the parties gain the courage to voice this argument?
    However the sensitivity is not only political it is also economic. A generous Barnett was a price paid for Scottish oil.

  3. “No identity of interest between Scotland and Wales.”
    An interesting observation that I am sure could be supported by historical research that extends back to the 6th century.

  4. There is another conclusion to be drawn from this. Scotland is overfunded (the SNP would disagree) despite the fact that they are, according to their own view, a wealthy nation. Wales, comparatively speaking, is a poor nation and yet receives less. Clearly the basis on which Westminster distributes funds to Scotland is not based on fairness. So why would Wales not want to base its claims on the current values that operate out of Westminster.

    However if you believe in the Union and believe Wales should have parity with English regions, then your point has some validity, though you would have to ignore the wealth produced by Wales that was sent to Westminster, leaving the people who produced that wealth in poverty. And you would also have to ignore that Wales is not funded according to need but only population size, would you not?

  5. “more than the English give themselves” ~ that’s the clue in Gerald’s comment.

    Wales is run by & for England’s benefit, if the truth be told. London & the SE has sucked Wales dry over two centuries (& not just Wales). Bear in mind that London has no resources whatsoever & yet is brimming with wealth, whilst we have to hold up our begging bowl. We even paid our share for Crossrail & the Olympics. We’re tired of Commissions, Gerald, they’ve achieved nothing significant for Wales. We don’t need any more of them. We’re getting poorer by the day. The cycle has to be broken, and Plaid Cymru is the only party that has a chance of achieving it. The other parties have not tried and it’s clear that they don’t even want to try.

    Successive Labour & Tory governments have made Wales into a dependency. Both parties deny us the powers & the funding to remedy the damage they have done to our country down the generations.

    Thankfully the British State is in its death throes, run alternately by two parties which differ only in name via a corrupt undemocratic elite system which they have no intention of reforming. It’s collapse was delayed by the two world wars. I won’t be mourning its demise when it comes.

    Wales in due course, will have to go its own way. As our slide into poverty continues, the sooner we get on with it the better.

    Good luck, Leanne & Plaid Cymru.

  6. Very well put Gerry…but this is politics and this is the very naive Welsh voting public. Plaid has never been an honest party (which is?) and it’s no surprise that they are both hypocritical and mendacious when making a pitch for votes.
    The victim status of the Welsh public has been constantly milked over the funding shortfall that you identified some years ago. Amongst Plaid supporters it is comforting to find prominent economists who will confirm that Wales is being consistently mistreated by the neighbour from hell to the East. It feeds the drive for independence and is a valuable political asset.The “threat” of fair funding has obliged Plaid to shift its ground with a new subliminal pitch…vote Plaid and get more than we deserve. As if it were voting SNP that gave Scotland such a massive over funding.

  7. Oil rich regions in the western world end up with a larger slice of the pie -real politik. Have you tried phoning Nicola and asking if she would send Scottish money direct to Wales?

  8. I,very humbly agree with the comments from Gerry Holtham as above.The continual ‘gripe’ from Leanne Wood and PC in general about underfunding is part of the narrative of the nationalists to continually portray us as ‘victims’ and develop grievance politics.Its clear from published figures that the great winners under the BF are the Scots,whilst we get a bit more than the English who ultimately fund the celtic fringe. The leader of the SNP has clearly stated that no matter how much she loves the welsh people there is no possibility of transferring some of its public wealth to the poorer welsh ‘nation’.There is clearly a section of welsh society that has ‘struggled’ through the economic downturn,however cuts,or realignments to ‘welfare’ has been needed for years to get many of the recipients to understand that WORK is not an option but a clear duty on all of us.The money we do get it is used by the Labour Party to fund a totally unreconstructed public sector,and funding for whole series of ‘quangos’ which meet the nationalist/socialist agenda of WG!!. A ‘cull’ is needed of about 80% of such quangos and money saved transferred in direct public services to clean up our roads/streets etc etc.

  9. Gerald needs to keep up with the times! The Unionist parties have “locked -in” that unfairness by vowing to keep Barnett for Scotland. Given that we could not expect them to go back on their “vow” the only game in town is parity. It is not hero worship of the SNP it is common interest.

  10. Leanne and her party are very amateurish, Wales is always going to get less public funding than Scotland because Scotland has huge remote areas and has a completely different legal system to fund. I question whether Wales is underfunded at all given it already gets more per head than most (if not all) regions of England.

    Leanne and Plaid has had far too much coverage this election but I’m not expecting a Plaid surge because it has exposed their complete lack of credibility as well as gross hypocrisy, they are a party advocating partition from the very people they’re holding out the begging bowl to !

  11. Spot on Gerry Holtham. Two wrong don’t make a right. Really hope whoever forms new government will give Wales financial parity with Scotland. By scrapping Barnett & slashing Scots block grant

  12. Funding for Wales is lower per head than Scotland, Northern Ireland and roughly the same as London. The question of funding perhaps should therefore be turned on its head: if Wales’s funding is adequate and reasonable why is it that Wales has some of the highest levels of social deprivation, poorest PISA results, issues with NHS and woeful GVA per capita measures in Europe?

    If Wales is to get into shape so that it completely pays its way by raising average income levels and thus reducing in work welfare payments then either it requires more investment or a change in Government or both.

  13. So Gerald Holtham effectively validates the latest incarnation of UKIP policy on NUTS1 Regional funding?

  14. @Tegid Roberts.Better management of existing resources??. We must have the most ‘third’ sector employees in western world,pro rata to our own wealth creating sector,and all CEO’s very well paid.We have 22 local authorities/health boards/children/old people/welsh language commissioners and all with staff and for what??.We have £80-£100 Million going into S4C and all should be reduced/abolished and savings spent on direct services,partcularly education in poorest areas and employing best teachers at high salaries but out of local authority control.

  15. My query on the Barnett is along the lines of what John Sintern (May 05 6:23pm) says:

    “Wales is always going to get less public funding than Scotland because Scotland has huge remote areas…”

    I remember hearing about the Barnett settlement about 7 years ago. I was living up in Scotland at the time, and it did not strike me unfair to Wales (and not just because I was living up there!). Scotland has half the population density of Wales and is spread throughout a land mass with some remote small isles. In this sense, I struggle to understand the parity per head argument between countries which inevitably have differences (physical, settlement patterns etc.) in their composition.

    Tegid Roberts says “Funding for Wales is lower per head than Scotland, Northern Ireland and roughly the same as London.”

    …this really surprises me – I thought that funding per head in London would be alot lower, it being a major urban wealth generator (high GVA etc.)? If London gets funding on a parity with Wales then that would seem to be a bit skewed.

  16. Wales had a good chance when the Assembly was formed to establish the basis of a thriving economy. We had every chance of building on what was then a high achieving education sector, switching some emphasis to the subjects most frequently required in a modern economy and continuing with the rigorous monitoring of pupil’s progress.
    Labour and Plaid were of the same mind on one thing however; we in Wales would not allow schools to opt out of LA control and the teacher’s unions would get their way, SATs would be abolished and league tables not tolerated.
    The result is history; expensive multiple LEA’s draining money from school budgets and teachers who found it easier to give generous Key stage assessments than struggle to raise attainment levels.
    Now Plaid wants more money. As Gerald Holtham points out Scotland has more than they deserve under a needs based distribution formula but of course our national socialist “Party of Wales” couldn’t suggest that it would be only fair to redistribute the wealth that Scotland has to the North East of England or Wales. On the other hand the economic powerhouse of Britain, the innovative and dynamic area around London, should in this strangely selective socialist political philosophy give much more of its wealth to Wales in return for the endless sneering hatred that is the backbone of Welsh nationalism.

  17. A couple of factual points/clarifications.
    Scotland’s greater landmass and population sparsity does not justify its extra funding. Sparsity is a factor in the formulae used to distribute money around England, Scotland and Wales. We took account of it in the comparative analysis. It justifies some more money but not as much as the Scots get.
    Historically Wales got lower funding per head than London and the latter has only recently come down to give us the parity referred to by Tegid Roberts. It remains to be seen whether that will persist since London is not covered by the Barnett formula.
    It may well be that Scotland’s position depends not on fairness but on brute bargaining power conferred by having an oil field and that Barnett may persist. Wales does not have an oilfield or similar bargaining power so parity is not a “game in town” either. If you think HMG are going to just give Wales an extra £1.2 billion a year out of the goodness of their hearts, I have some bad news for you about Father Christmas.

  18. Simmo: the figures I saw said £9,435 in London in comparison to £9709 for Wales. Lower but not by much in comparison to Scotland £10152 and Northern Ireland £10,876. However infrastructure spend in London is very high per capita.

  19. The ‘performance’ by Leanne Wood was first class in its ‘destruction’ of Coalition’s policies of balancing the books and that AUSTERITY was causing mass poverty.The middle classes in England watching Leanne Wood must have been convinced that the ‘whingeing’ welsh were a JOKE,and voted accordingly.There is no doubt that Plaid Cymru outside i’s small and irrelevant ‘heartland’ is causing damage to 99% of welsh people,however the growth of UKIP clearly shows there are changes taking place and welsh nationalism is dead and buried,except in BBC Wales and S4C but hopefully that will change as the TV Licence is also dead and buried.

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