Tweet I can’t say that I’m particularly unhappy that the Defence Academy at St Athan has fallen victim to the cuts. It’s been a difficult issue for many of us from the outset – not least because Plaid’s Parliamentary Group and the Assembly Government both signed up to support for the proposal before the rest of the party had any opportunity whatsoever to discuss it. It left those of us who would have been natural and instinctive opponents of the scheme in considerable difficulty.
It was a symptom of an increasing degree of timidity and caution in the party, particularly amongst elected members keen not to be seen as being anti-British, anti-military, or anti-jobs. Opposing the academy was not necessarily any of those things of course, but there has, of late, been an excessive willingness to compromise rather than make the difficult arguments.
And the Labour Party in particular were only too happy to look for opportunities to accuse Plaid of all of those things, even though there were many members and supporters of the Labour Party who shared the doubts about the scheme.
Of course we want jobs, and it’s nonsense for anyone to argue that we don’t. But there’s nothing at all wrong with arguing that we want jobs which don’t come complete with incumbents (and their dependants to compete for any new jobs). Neither is there anything wrong with arguing that we want to be selective about the type of jobs we want to see. Indeed, there’s no point at all in pretending that we have a strategy for building the Welsh economy around ‘green’ jobs if we then welcome any and every project which takes us in the opposite direction.
It’s also worth noting that, for all the hype in the Welsh media about the thousands of jobs that the scheme would bring to Wales, no-one was particularly keen to talk about the thousands of jobs correspondingly destroyed at existing bases. It’s an aspect of the ‘job creation’ industry which has long worried me – moving jobs from one part of the world to another doesn’t ‘create’ jobs at all; in fact it often reduces the total.
There is an issue, of course, around the fact that Wales receives a significantly smaller share of defence expenditure than either England or Scotland; but it’s a mistake to see that in isolation. I don’t want to have our exact percentage of spending under each and every heading; I only want our fair share of the total. I’d be more than happy to forgo our ‘fair’ share of defence expenditure, if we got correspondingly more under another heading – such as research funding, for instance.
And that’s the real issue – we simply don’t get our fair share. It’s a campaigning point for a nationalist, of course – but the real solution is to take control of our own taxation revenue and decide for ourselves how to spend it. I’d bet we’d never choose a Defence Academy.
End of the three-country consensus? - What's Michael Gove's letter to the Education Ministers of Wales and Northern Ireland all about? In a sense, you could argue it's about - well, stating t...
1 hour ago