Only a ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ mantra can change Labour-Tory group-think that this is as good as it gets for Wales - Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price
Adam Price writes for The Sunday Times ahead of the elections on 6 of May.
This has been an election campaign like no other in a year like no other.
A campaign of contradictions, much like the Covid crisis itself. A socially distanced campaign, but a social one, nonetheless.
Travelling the length and breadth of Wales over the past weeks I have been in awe of the collective Welsh effort over the past 14 months.
Faced with a pandemic unrivalled in its scale and unmatched in its trail of tragedy, our people have pulled together – proving once again that our greatest asset is one another.
The heart-warming and heart-breaking have moved as one. I have met families who have lost loved ones, people whose jobs no longer exist, and young people scared about their future prospects.
Twenty years since Wales voted for its own parliament, the promise of a devolution dividend has been blunted by poor delivery.
For many years, relatively low unemployment figures have hidden one of Wales’s worst economic problems – poverty pay. Welsh workers are still earning roughly £50 less per week than their counterparts in England and Scotland.
Settling for second best is to wave the white flag and seal the fate of future generations yet to even enter the world of work.
Only a ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ mantra can change Labour-Tory group-think that this is as good as it gets for Wales.
A Plaid Cymru government would place a relentless focus on job-creation – well-paid, high-skilled jobs which balance the needs of our economy and environment and ensure that work really does pay.
During our first term, a Plaid government would create up to 60,000 jobs in public services, energy, infrastructure and beyond.
As part of this, our plans to train and recruit 6,000 extra NHS staff – 1,000 doctors, 4,000 nurses and 1,000 allied health professionals – would get to grips with the two biggest challenges facing our nation, rebuilding our economy and health service.
We need more teachers too. Not to just to address the pupil-teacher ratio so that every young person gets the attention they deserve, but also so that every need is met with the right support.
In its first term, a Plaid government would work to recruit 4,500 extra teachers and specialist support staff, helping to raise standards in our schools which have been left languishing at the bottom of the league tables under Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Unlike the London parties, Plaid Cymru refuses to believe that the Welsh economy is inherently inferior.
There is no problem we cannot solve for ourselves with the right levers and the right leadership.
Decarbonisation for a greener economy, innovation for a smarter economy, and stronger procurement practices so that Welsh companies benefit from Welsh contracts all form part of Plaid’s transformational economic plan.
With the economic consequences of Covid hitting young people particularly hard, Plaid Cymru will introduce a guaranteed job or training for everyone aged 16-24 to break down the barriers to meaningful employment.
67,000 families across Wales are on housing waiting lists so Plaid Cymru will deliver 50,000 public homes in line with our belief that safe and secure accommodation is a basic right for all.
The number of people in Wales claiming Universal Credit increased by a staggering 87.7% between February 2020 and March 2021 so a Plaid government would offer a lifelong learning entitlement for retraining worth £5,000 for everyone over 25 years old.
Whilst Labour’s legacy is one of problems, the promise of a Plaid government is one of solutions and never walking by on the other side.
Having swallowed the Westminster line that Wales is too small, too poor, and too stupid to stand on its own two feet, repeated polls tell us that Welsh public opinion is rapidly outgrowing Labour’s stifling self-esteem.
It is this lack of confidence which means that our nation has never been allowed to realise its economic potential.
It is the reason why thousands of people are trapped in poverty pay and why global corporations and their bravado-filled boardroom pitches have been backed before homegrown businesses.
It is the reason why a change of government is now not just desirable but essential.
We know that momentum is the most powerful thing in politics. A Plaid Cymru government would represent and reflect that growing sense of self-assurance among our people which will be the key to delivering social justice and economic success.
Too many people have been left behind for too long. Covid has exposed low pay, the lack of opportunity and absence of hope.
New leadership and fresh ideas will set us on a different path.
Extra doctors, nurses, and teachers for resilient public services. A fairer, greener economy with a promise of work for our young and new skills for all.
Jobs, jobs and more jobs – closer to home - for our people not corporations.
When the resolve of community spirit and energy of original thinking come together – there is nothing we cannot achieve.
Others have walked by on the other side but by voting for Wales on May 6th we can face the future together.