Sunday 21 February 2010

Differing opinions

Plaid had a really good two days at our Spring Conference in Cardiff yesterday and Friday. Last year was the first time that we extended the event to two days and ran a whole series of debates outside the main hall. It worked well last year, and even better this year.

The biggest problem for many of us was deciding which debates to attend - with two or even three running in parallel, as well as training events for candidates and activists, it was impossible for anyone to be everywhere.

The biggest clash, for me, was between a session on creating wealth in Wales with Ieuan Wyn and Eurfyl and a parallel session on fair funding where Gerry Holtham gave some pretty forthright views on taxation policy. Sadly, the result was that I missed the comments by Gerry Holtham which Tom Bodden reported on his blog.

Glyn Davies seems to think that we will all be regretting inviting Gerry and / or Tom as a result. On the contrary - the only thing I regret is missing the session. I think it's a good thing to have some alternative voices at this type of debate (perhaps we'll even invite Glyn one day!). It's a good thing to have our views and policies robustly challenged; I've never been afraid of a debate, and nor should Plaid be.

We've seen in recent weeks that different economists, or groups of economists, have very different views as to how far and how fast the budget deficit needs to be cut. Similarly, there are a range of different views, even amongst the experts, on taxation policy. Clearly, Gerry Holtham doesn't agree with Plaid's position on that issue! It doesn't mean that his views are 'right', any more than those of any other experts in the field. But they deserve a hearing - and they got one.

It's actually a sign of Plaid's growing confdence and maturity that we are willing to invite outsiders into our conference to present alternative views, and that we're prepared to listen to them and debate with them. It's certainly better than having the whole thing so carefully choreographed that it becomes boring.


Unknown said...

Can you imagine a Labour Conference with guest speakers invited who have different views from those of the party?

Dave Edwards said...

Tony Blair was usually invited!

John Dixon said...


Good answer!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed attending the conference and hearing Plaid challenged. It is a clear sign of the intellectual maturity of the party that they were welcomed with respect and genuine willingness to debate ideas.

The party can only gain for indulging in intellectually rigourous debates.