Empowering the people of Wales will never be possible with a Welsh Government that is itself weak and subordinate. Our ambition is to see a stronger, more successful Wales – and to act on that ambition - is one of the defining features of our politics.
We understand that no one cares more about the success of Wales than the people who live here. We know that we, the people of Wales, are more than capable of taking decisions for ourselves which are in the best interests of our communities. Decision making shouldn’t stop at Cardiff Bay. We also believe in empowering our communities to take more decisions themselves.
The idea of a Welsh democracy for this party is part and parcel of our foundational philosophy. The language we have used at different times in our history – Home Rule or Self-Government, Dominion Status or independence in the EU – has changed as the context around us has changed. But it’s possible to discern certain consistent principles which remain the bedrock of our vision for Wales:
- we believe Wales must take responsibility for its own future
- we believe in a new partnership between the nations and regions of these islands which recognises that there are some areas where we should govern ourselves and others – by choice or by the nature of the area in question – where it is necessary to cooperate
- we see Wales as part of the family of European nations
- we believe that the Welsh people have an inalienable right to self-determination.
- we recognise our inter-dependency at a global scale and reject a narrow, insular approach to the world’s problems
- we declare everyone who lives in Wales, whatever their language, the colour of their skin, their religion, their roots, their gender or sexual orientation, as a full and equal citizen of Wales.
Our long-term aim is for Wales to become an independent nation in its own right. However, we believe that there are some powers that need to be devolved as a matter of urgency. Some of these are as follows:
- Devolution of corporation tax and VAT
- An increase in the amount we are allowed to borrow from £1bn to £5bn
- The devolution of justice powers and policing
- Welfare powers to curtail the “deep, tragic and ideological cuts” of this Tory Government
- Devolution of broadcasting to the Senedd so that we can develop a broadcasting sector made by the people of Wales, for the people of Wales, and accountable to the people of Wales.
We have established an expert Independence Commission whose role is to recommend the steps we will need to take to achieve independence for Wales in the coming decade.
The greatest obstacle to Welsh independence is the charge that we simply cannot afford it, that a country as rich as Wales in natural resources and in the skills and imagination of her people, is somehow too poor to be independent.
Fundamentally, the reason why there is such a large gap between the taxes we raise in Wales, and the money we spend on benefits and public services, is the way our economy has been mismanaged by successive centralised London governments. We need independence precisely in order to change that. In the meantime, we need to demonstrate that, even with the limited powers that the present devolution settlement offers us, we can begin to close the fiscal gap.
The Independence Commission will address the legitimate questions people have about how an independent Wales would work, on issues such as currency, borders, the UK national debt, and pensions.
The Commission will draw up a Written Constitution for an independent Wales and oversee the production of a Self-Determination Bill. This will be the paving legislation that an incoming Plaid Cymru Government will bring forward, aimed at preparing for the referendum on Welsh independence that will take place before the end of the next decade.
The legislation enacted by this Bill will enable the Plaid Cymru government to engage with as wide a cross-section of people and interests as possible. It will include the creation of a new organization with a full-time secretariat, to oversee the process leading to the referendum. A series of Citizens’ Assemblies will inform the people of Wales on the wide-ranging issues and questions that the prospect of independence raises.
The Brexit crisis has demonstrated that Westminster is broken, and the people of Wales are paying the price. We are best served by our own National Parliament – the Senedd which is more inclusive and more representative than Westminster.
Plaid Cymru is committed to overhauling the Westminster voting system, getting rid of First-Past-the-Post and turning it into a parliament elected under the Single Transferable Vote proportional system, in which all votes count equally.
Plaid Cymru supports reform of the House of Lords so that it becomes a directly elected upper chamber representing the regions of England, and so long as they remain part of the UK state, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
We will lead efforts to extend the right to vote to sixteen and seventeen-year-olds for Westminster elections, and we will campaign to give EU citizens and all those with permanent residency the right to vote in all elections.
Westminster’s faults are fundamental. The confrontational architecture of the chamber encourages antagonism and distrust between political parties. We will cancel plans for the £5bn restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster. Instead of building a replica of a parliament that has seen barely any reform since the Nineteenth Century, we will campaign to move the Parliament out of London, in order to build a chamber that encourages civilized debate and which holds enough seats for all 650 MPs. We will also support abolishing the archaic and inefficient voting procedure in Westminster whereby MPs walk through lobbies for hours. Instead, we will support electronic voting, freeing up time for MPs to represent their constituents.
Currently, nearly one in five MPs has regular paid work outside parliament. We will lead efforts to strengthen the MPs’ code of conduct, to include an upper limit of extra earnings pegged at no more than half of their regular salary.
Currently, there are 17 Assembly Members and seven Welsh MPs who employ members of their own families at the public’s expense. Whether in the Senedd or Westminster, Plaid Cymru politicians will not employ family members.
We will put the interests of the people of Wales above political rivalries and discourage language that incites hatred or encourages disrespect. We commit to upholding a level of respect and professionalism between colleagues in Westminster.
The Welsh Language in Westminster
Twenty-six years after the Welsh Language Act, Welsh speakers are still at a disadvantage when it comes to Westminster. Welsh speakers have a right to correspond with all Ministers and access all government and parliament services through the medium of Welsh. MPs should have the right to speak Welsh in the House of Commons chamber so that all their constituents can feel represented.