Let us harness the spirit of hope and optimism on 6th of May - Liz Saville Roberts MP
This article was originally published in The Sunday Times.
“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get the credit for doing it.”
These true words, spoken by the nineteenth century Scottish-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, ring as true today as they did then.
This evening, a nation will listen, ponder, and, ultimately, decide who should be the next First Minister of Wales. Television debates in these unprecedented times will be simpler, possibly more potent affairs as policy and principles become amplified in the silent absence of a studio audience.
We all want to see a sprinkle of stardust, but showmen who showboat only take you for a short jaunt.
Peel away their populist propaganda and you are left with little detail, no plan, and a vision so broad-brushed that it lacks any real coherence.
Tonight, three candidates for the job of First Minister go head-to-head.
If our politics is to be kinder, public debate must always be a battle of ideas not an exchange of personal attacks.
Considering the monumental challenges facing our nation in the wake of the pandemic, what Wales needs is a leader committed to transforming, not tinkering.
The ideas put forward in Plaid Cymru’s manifesto at this election possess a boldness and ingenuity which have been sorely lacking in Wales’s leadership for the past twenty years.
Only a change of that leadership will ensure that the age of managerialism and mediocrity which has been allowed to linger under consecutive Labour governments will come to an end.
Adam Price has long been recognised for putting forward innovative policy proposals with the power to reinvigorate Wales.
It is almost as if the scale of ambition is beyond the comprehension of the Westminster parties who refuse to believe that our nation can stand on its own two feet. Their tiresome charges of unaffordability and undeliverability soon turn to a mix of disappointment and dumbfoundedness upon learning that Plaid Cymru’s manifestos, election after election, are fully costed and independently verified by some of Wales’s leading economists.
Succeeding in striking that balance between aspiration and credibility is what makes Adam such an exciting prospective candidate for leading our nation.
When the current First Minister Mark Drakeford has chosen to act independently of the UK Government during the pandemic, Wales has invariably fared better.
From the community led contact tracing system in Ceredigion to the swift rollout of the vaccine nation-wide, Plaid Cymru has commended the Welsh Government when credit was due.
What we have also done is to scrutinise forensically but fairly, calling out the Labour Welsh Government for moving too slow into lockdown and too fast out of the firebreak.
A conservative Labour First Minister may seem like an oxymoron, but in Wales’s case that is precisely what we have. Too timid in challenging Westminster, too reluctant to tread too far from the UK Government’s line.
And what of the Conservative candidate?
To be respected in office, you must first prove that you respect that office.
Every utterance from the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives throughout this campaign to date has suggested that he is incapable of doing just that.
Andrew RT Davies’ recent cavalier call to end all social distancing in Wales by June with no scientific
evidence to boot, is an unsettling reminder of the reckless approach he is so willing to adopt in pursuit of political gain.
Picture it – a First Minister unwilling to put Wales first. A politician who wants power for himself, not the powers required to change things for the better. A biddable puppet for string-puller Boris.
The Conservative party may be willing to operate as the branch office of a London headquarters, but we cannot – we must not – allow our parliament to face the same fate in their hands.
‘Charm and disarm’ will only take you so far, as the UK Prime Minister has proven. A premiership which stumbles at the first sign of scrutiny will in no way meet the challenges of rebuilding Wales’s economy and public services.
With Adam Price, for the first time since 1999, Wales would have a First Minister determined to reap the devolution dividend in full – maximising the positive potential of the powers we already have and paving the way for further progress as an independent nation.
For the first time since 1999, Wales would have a leader not just prepared but utterly committed to standing up to Westminster at every turn, demanding a better deal.
In Adam’s own words, there is nothing we cannot do together as a nation.
That focus on inspiring but inclusive leadership – a sincere belief in the principle that everyone has a contribution to make in building the new Wales – is what sets him apart.
I am in no doubt that when you watch tonight’s debate on ITV you will see a leader meticulous in his attention to detail, ambitious in his vision and respectful in tone; keeping true to the words of Carnegie that a belief in the collective effort will serve us all far better than personal point-scoring.
Renewal and rejuvenation will be the watch words of the political Welsh Spring. It is that spirit of hope and optimism we can harness on May 6th and begin the work of building a Wales that works for everyone by voting for a Plaid Cymru government and for Adam Price as First Minister.