Thursday 21 October 2010

It's an ill wind...

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.


Unknown said...

Freedom and self-government was never won by timidity.Nationalist political strategy should be based on singleness of purpose and unwavering determination in the cause of justice and liberty.

Anonymous said...

Plaid are hamstrung on this by the spineless position they took. This is an example of a cut they could support- albeit a long-term cut, but still, to distance themselves from Labour and be credible.

I appreciate that Plaid were better and more independent on St. Athan than any of the London-based parties, but they still had Elfyn saying exactly the same line as Labour.

At a time when they need to differentiate from Labour, Plaid's leadership (but not grassroots) were short-sighted and lacked bravery on this particular issue.

Credit to Jill Evans, Dafydd Iwan and yourself though- the only people in mainstream Welsh politics who saw it coming.

Spirit of BME said...

I can not improve on Alanindyfed fine words about the sins of timidity.
Your complaint about the elected Plaid members is on the mark as they are frightened to be anti, because they have distance themselves from the core values and Aims of the Party. (In the May manifesto the Aims, downgraded to aspiration could be found on Page 33 of 44)
This is a classic behaviour pattern of any organisation that is in decline, as they will thrash about to see what works in order to get elected - the curse of Focus Groups reinforces this drift.
The system of election for the Assembly may well (I am undecided) facilitate this "virtual party” idea where Plaid has turned into a vehicle for individuals career path and pension fund.
Plaid has become a classical political prostitute and will be what the clients want them to be. Like many "tarts with a heart" we have caught political herpes which (I am told) is painful and unpleasant, not curable, difficult to manage and needing very server treatment and abstention, if it is to be kept under control.

Unknown said...

I agree with Annom.

I personally was not against this development on moral grounds - I was against it because I just did not believe that the high number of skilled jobs promised would not go to local people - but to already qualified displaced army people, who would further Anglicise (not meant racially - but socially) this already gentrified area - and that only low paid, menial jobs would go to the locals. I know from personal experience of the area that the RAF people regarded the locals as surfs! But I was confused about Plaid's policy! I would have campaigned on it even when I disagreed with it, but it was a fudge!

Same with Nuclear Power - I believe it is necessary in Britain - but not in Wales! - Another confused situation!

And now that the Labour party are busy pickpocketing our economic policies, and claiming them as our own, what do we have left? Some serious thinking required!

Anonymous said...

"Same with Nuclear Power - I believe it is necessary in Britain - but not in Wales! - Another confused situation!

And now that the Labour party are busy pickpocketing our economic policies, and claiming them as our own, what do we have left? Some serious thinking required!"

Exactly. For British needs St. Athan makes sense. Britain is a pretend-power and an imperialist state.

For Welsh needs, St. Athan did not make sense. The only rationale would be supporting it on the basis of jobs. But the jobs picture was blatantly a sham as numerous bloggers and investigative journalists (no journalists in Wales though) pointed out.