Wednesday 16 July 2008

Swansea Hustings

I was away last week, and missed the party's hustings meeting held in Carmarthen to select our list of candidates for the European elections. So last night, it was down to Swansea to see the candidates put through their paces - and of course, to vote.

Under our rules we give no protection or preference to incumbents, who have to go through the same process as aspiring candidates. It is, however, inevitable that the experience of doing the job for a period will influence their knowledge and understanding of what is, or isn't, possible. The standard of questioning was high, with some big issues being raised. It was almost unfair to expect the candidates to respond to some of the issues in such a short time.

Most encouraging, for me, was the way in which the question of globalisation was aired by one questioner. This is one of those issues which goes to the heart of what makes Plaid different from the other parties. The others tell us that globalisation is inevitable, and we have to fall in with the trend and accept it. I've never been convinced by this. On the contrary, I think we need to be re-localising the economy, processing raw materials and using goods closer to the point of production as far as possible.

Globalisation is sold as benefiting the developing nations, but it seems to me that the only people who really benefit are the multinational companies. Replacing manufacturing jobs in Wales with sweatshops and child labour in the developing nations doesn't look to me like a particularly good deal for either side. The only aspect of globalisation which is remotely encouraging is the way in which it spurs like-minded groups across the world to come together to oppose it.


Unknown said...

The cost in terms of manpower and fuel to convey goods from one side of the world to another with ships carrying Welsh lamb and New Zealand lamb passing each other in opposite directions is surely phenomenal. If food were produced and consumed locally and countries became more self-sufficient, and if people acquired the habit of buying local produce, it would make a lot more sense.
This functions well in Cyprus where local food tends to be consumed in season and less is imported from distant locations.

John Dixon said...

Would that life were quite as simple as that. On the specific example you quote, the total carbon cost of producing and shipping agricultural produce from New Zealand to Wales is actually less than the total carbon cost of producing and eating our own, because of the differences in farming methods between the two countries. It's a classic example of where what appears to be obvious may not be so.

That doesn't mean that I retract anything I said in the original post. It just means that the whole question of reducing our environmental impact is a good deal more complex than might at first appear.

Unknown said...

It appears from what you say that Wales should adopt New Zealand farming methods...