A vision for ambition: why fairness has to be both economic and social
Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth to spell out vision for economic and social prosperity for Wales
Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth MS will this week spell out his vision for economic and social prosperity for Wales during a lecture hosted by the Wales Governance Centre in Cardiff, demanding a much higher level of ambition for Wales to deliver a fairer future for our nation.
Reflecting on twenty-five years of devolution, Rhun ap Iorwerth is expected to say:
“Whilst culturally a new sense of nationhood has developed and there’s been a growing political understanding of the powers that reside in Wales – especially after our Covid experience - there remains a persistent underperformance on many metrics, including, crucially, economic underperformance, a 25-year Achilles heel which requires addressing and strengthening.
“If we fail in this endeavour, we will fail in our mission to secure a fairer, more ambitious Wales. Fairness and ambition are not mutually exclusive - on the contrary - they are intrinsically linked. Believing in the redistribution of wealth and a supportive state while simultaneously advocating for successful enterprise is not an either/or. Both have people at their heart, and the people of Wales are our greatest asset.”
Speaking of how “fairness and ambition” lie at the core of his political mission for Wales, the Plaid Cymru Leader will say:
“Prescribing a label to my politics has never been a motivation of mine. What drives me is getting Wales moving and working better, where background is no impediment to success, where ill health is not defined by postcode and where I see no arbitrary boundaries to what we can achieve both as individuals and collectively, as communities and as a nation.
“Setting a high bar in terms of ambition for Wales is vital if we’re to build a fairer society.
“And those two words – fairness and ambition – really are intertwined in my political thinking. Creating a fair society should be an ambition for all of us. Collectively. And we shouldn’t rest until we can look around our communities and see that no one is being left behind. But ambition in its wider sense is something I want Wales to embrace. A go-getting Wales, with an ambition to succeed. Not to tread water or get by. But to prosper. And to do so precisely because it’s for the common good, using that prosperity to further entrench the fairness we seek.
Mr ap Iorwerth will set out a series of proposals designed to boost economic growth and productivity, including setting new targets for the economy, legislating on fair funding for Wales and within Wales, and granting the Senedd more flexibility over taxation.
Speaking about Wales’s historic underfunding, Rhun ap Iorwerth will say:
“By enshrining into law an Economic Fairness (Wales) Bill we would rebalance the wealth of the UK, ensuring that Wales gets what it’s owed and critically what it needs in public investment.
“It would take us away from the hypocrisy of the argument that most parts of the United Kingdom must live under the iron fist of fiscal responsibility while others benefit from the trappings of more spending as a pre-election sweetener.
“Without fairness at the heart of economic decision-making, Wales will always be hindered in its desire to be the ambitious and prosperous nation it strives to be.
“Had an Economic Fairness Bill underpinned by an independent arms-length arbitration body been on the statute book, the statistical rollcall of shame which highlights Wales’s underfunding would look very different.
“Between 2001 and 2029 – the Welsh Government estimates that Wales will have lost out to the tune of between £2.9bn and £8bn of rail investment alone. It further calculates that the Levelling Up Fund and Shared Prosperity Fund leaves us over a billion pounds worse off.
“These are significant numbers. And losing that kind of investment makes a big difference.”