The voice of Wales

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

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

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.

 

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