We need a new model that turns the Welsh economy into an economy for Wales
Adam Price MS writes for the Sunday Times on the need for a practical plan of action that Wales currently lacks
This article was published in the Sunday Times 05/03/2023
These are dark days. A time of multiplying crisis. Crisis after crisis.
Energy bills are soaring, but workers’ wages are falling.
People are struggling to put food on the table.
Our businesses have been left without support.
And things are only going to get worse.
That is the reality of Sunak’s Britain.
Over a decade of Tory cuts have battered the UK economy - with Wales the hardest hit.
In the latest economic figures Wales – the country with the highest child poverty – saw the greatest slump in GDP of any UK nation, and the biggest fall in employment.
For those that put their faith in the job-creating power of Brexit tell that to the seven hundred workers at Two Sisters in Ynys Mon.
Labour, of course, offer no real alternative. Keir Starmer’s Tory-lite policies and his bold pro-Union imagery shows that Wales is nothing but an afterthought to him.
From a stubborn commitment to a destructive Brexit, to undermining devolution - there is little difference between red and blue these days.
Plaid Cymru is the only that has both the solutions and the vision to transform our economy.
So, what kind of economic alternative could we and should we demand?
We must start by rejecting a foolish, failed hard Brexit by re-joining the Single Market and the Customs Union. Keir Starmer knows that to be the best option – but, just like Boris Johnson or Rishi Sunak, he says not what he believes to be true but what he believes to be popular.
Secondly, we should insist the Bank of England sets interest rates in a way that stimulates not kills economic recovery and rewrite its remit so that it serves every part of all four nations not just the capital of one.
And the third big change is the biggest of all.
We must move from an economy that simply reproduces inequality to one that removes it.
I and Plaid Cymru believe that the only way to truly achieve this new economy is through independence.
And independence will mean we can build up our nation, our infrastructure, our public services, and the lives of our people. In a nation transformed by fair, sensible, progressive policies. That means an independent Wales will be able to make the essentials of life like transport and housing accessible and affordable; and for health, care and childcare, universal and free.
But while we remain trapped in this un-united kingdom, this is the message we’ve always sent to Westminster and will be sending to whoever forms the next Westminster Government: Give us the tools so we can begin the work of transforming the Welsh economy.
That starts with a fairer funding settlement.
And if Labour is still committed to HS2, then it can commit to the £5 billion of extra investment that Wales is owed, and to the hundreds of millions in equivalent European funding that the Tories promised but failed to deliver. It’s only Plaid Cymru MPs and Plaid Cymru votes throughout Wales that will force the next Prime Minister to give Wales the deal that we deserve.
We also need full ownership over our natural resources - including the Crown Estate.
Wales has incredible potential to drive the green revolution of the modern economy and an investment-led green growth, a Welsh Green Revolution has the capacity to transform the Welsh economy.
By 2030 according to the National Grid, Wales, already an electricity exporter to the rest of the UK, may increase that more than fifteen-fold, primarily through offshore wind in the Celtic Sea and in what is soon to be renamed the Celtic Channel. Up to 35 terrawatts of power from Wales to England. And that’s even before we harness tidal lagoons and the growing power of the Welsh hydrogen cluster.
But the question is this, is that power to be extracted from us for someone else’s benefit or developed by us for our own. Cofiwch Tryweryn. Cofiwch Aberfan. A Chofiwch Llangyndeyrn fel buddugoliaeth hefyd. (Remember Tryweryn. Remember Aberfan. And Remember Llangyndeyrn as a victory too). We are done with being exploited for someone else’s gain.
We want to grasp the generational opportunity of the green industrial revolution. We can revive, re-energise and re-industrialise, providing thousands of decent jobs and cheap electricity.
Give us in Wales the power to lead that investment drive and pay for it through borrowing. £15 billion over ten years could give us our own Welsh National Grid, connecting homes and business with clean, reliable, affordable power so we don’t simply act as someone else’s battery pack.
Innovation at the leading edge, fairness at the foundations, education as an engine of opportunity – Wales needs to advance on all these fronts. We can be a high-skilled, high-wage, high-productivity economy if we invest in the potential of a Welsh Green Deal
We need a new model that turns the Welsh economy into an economy For Wales. That works for Wales. That works for every part of Wales. That works for everyone in Wales and helps us create the kind of society that matters to us.
That is the kind of overarching vision, roadmap and practical plan of action that Wales currently lacks.