Wednesday 23 June 2010

Jill is right

Yesterday's Western Mail carried a lengthy piece about an attack by Labour AM Alun Davies on Jill Evans, and backed it up with an editorial comment saying that Plaid Cymru's senior figures need to get a grip. The implication is that Jill is somehow out of line with the rest of the party, because she's saying something different from the Welsh Government, and therefore needs to be silenced.

That's a complete non-sequitur – not least because Plaid policy is not made by the Government or the party's ministers in that government, a point that I have made many times before. It is made by the party's membership, and doesn't change as a result of a statement by one or more government ministers.

Plaid Cymru has committed to an energy policy based entirely on renewables, and ending the use of fossil fuels and nuclear power. That is an aim which is entirely achievable, and the Welsh Government recently adopted an energy strategy which basically takes the same line.

One thing is absolutely clear – building new fossil fuel power stations is not a way of reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Even if we accept (and I'm far from convinced) that there is a short term need for gas whilst we make the transition, a CCGT of the type being constructed at Pembroke is not the most sensible way forward.

A series of smaller CHP schemes would make much more efficient use of the gas, extracting more useable energy from the fuel, thereby reducing the emissions cost of each unit of energy. It would also avoid the extremely damaging disposal of vast amounts of waste heat into the Haven with the discharge of cooling water.

So, the position taken by Jill is entirely in accordance with both the policy of Plaid Cymru and the energy strategy of the Welsh Government. The only basis for the wildly exaggerated claim that this represents some sort of split is that there was, apparently, a statement by the Welsh Government sometime last year welcoming the granting of planning consent. I have to admit that I missed that one – or else I'd have disagreed at the time.

It does highlight two concerns which I've highlighted previously. The first is about government strategy, and the second is about the way in which our elected representatives respond to government strategy.

When the government produced its energy strategy, I questioned whether and to what extent it was going to be more than a paper exercise, and whether the government were going to follow through. Welcoming developments which go directly against the declared strategy does not augur well.

On the other point - and this was an issue which came up in several hustings meetings during the recent election campaign - we are not going to reduce human impact on the planet's climate if individual elected representatives sign up to a strategy or policy and then want to make exceptions every time such an exception might bring about a few jobs. That is, ultimately, a recipe for carrying on as we are, not for change.

It isn't that jobs are not important to the economy; of course they are. But where Alun Davies - and any other AM or MP who wants to make exceptions 'for the sake of jobs' - are completely misguided is in assuming that jobs depend on ignoring the strategy. They do not - there are more jobs, and a more sustainable economy, available by following the strategy than by ignoring it.

If Plaid Cymru needs to get a grip at all, it's on those who choose to ignore party policy, not on those who follow it.


Anonymous said...

Well said John.

Anonymous said...

Good rebuttal John, the articles you mention were the usual spiteful anti Plaid Cymru rhetoric from Shipton.

Not only is his usual Labour bias on show, but they really highlight his
problem with women a sentiment that other journalists in the Western Mail share.

Anonymous said...

Labour's attacks show who they really fear at the next Assembly election - Plaid.
Why the Western Mail seems to take the Labour line all the time is very odd.

Alun said...

Excellent and important points John

Bonheddwr said...

Ardderchog John. Pam ddim anfon hwn fel llythyr at y Western Mail hefyd?

Pelagius said...

I agree with John & Jill. But what this Labour/Western Mail fluff highlights is the constant need for Plaid - at all levels - to present the party's positive message all the time.

On energy, we already produce a surplus. The new infrastructure is to supply England. If we created our own green energy industry, we'd create many more jobs here. Plaid must come out fighting on this and not get sucked into the Anglo-British narrative.

John Dixon said...


Mae hyn yn llawer rhy hir i fod yn llythyr yn y WM. Ond anfonais i lythyr byrrach echdoe.