Monday, 18 January 2010

Ieuan Wyn Jones promises a free unicorn to everyone who votes Plaid

The Druid had no intention of writing two posts on Plaid Cymru in succession today - but then he saw this:

Plaid leader - and local Anglesey Swansea Denbigh boy - Ieuan wyn Jones AM will apparently unveil during a speech this evening that if Plaid win the General Election they will introduce a guaranteed state pension which would be set at the rate of the pension credit, in other words:

At present, pension credit is means-tested and has to be applied for. The lower basic state pension will rise in April to £97.65 for a single person and £132.60 for a couple. Under Plaid’s promise, all single pensioners would get the pension credit rate of £156.15 while couples would receive £202.40 – increases of just under 30% and 35% respectively.

Apparently the £20bn extra cost this would entail would be paid for through scrapping ID Cards and Trident in addition to raising taxes for everyone earning over £100K.

Sounds great - all Plaid Cymru needs to do is win 324 seats in the General Election to obtain a majority and then they can implement this election pledge. Oh, wait, Plaid only actually contests 40 seats - so on top of winning every seat in Wales they'll also need to win another 284 seats elsewhere in the country… that could prove tricky so its a good job that responsibility for Pensions has been devolved to the Welsh Assembly where Plaid Cymru is currently in a coalition government with Labour - otherwise they could never implement this election pledge. Oh, wait - that hasn't happened either.

This is politics at its most cynical. Plaid Cymru have made an election pledge to Wales' pensioners which they know they have absolutely no chance whatsoever to implement. In the business world this is called 'fraud' - as an ex-solicitor I'd have thought Ieuan Wyn Jones would know something about that. 

Rather than bribing voters with empty promises, far better that Plaid spent some time thinking about pledges they can actually deliver. For instance, although the Welsh Assembly Government does not have authority over pensions, it does have responsibilities for:

  • education
  • health
  • local government
  • transport
  • planning
  • economic development
  • social care
  • culture
  • environment
  • agriculture and rural affairs

The list includes Local Government so here's one the Druid would suggest to Ieuan Wyn for starters: how about actually implementing one of the election pledges you made as the last elections in 2007, i.e. to lift 50,000 Welsh businesses out of paying Business Rates?

Who knows - if Plaid Cymru had actually introduced that pledge back in 2007 then perhaps just some of the many businesses in Anglesey which have gone bust would still be around? 


hafod said...

Oh dear, the last two posts have revealed that Druid is "doing a Peter Rogers"... an independent in name only. If Plaid had addressed only devolved matters in a Westminster election, they would have been derided. Because they address non-devolved matters, they get the same treatment from Druid. It's a differentiation that Cameron, Brown and Clegg haven't cracked yet.
The pensions pledge is costed and achievable, which is why it's been attacked to fiercely by the big London parties.

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Hafod - I can assure you the Druid is fiercely independent, both Labour and the Torys have been (and will continue to be) heavily criticised in this blog.

You state that "if Plaid had addressed only devolved matters in a Westminster election, they would have been derided". Derided by who? Not by me - I would applaud Plaid if they proposed good policies which they had a chance to implement through the Welsh Assembly. For example, Plaid's pledge in 2007 to remove the burden of Business Rates from 50,000 business was a good, perfectly implementable policy.

Also, as I pointed out in my post: Plaid only contest the 40 seats in Wales therefore it is fairly silly to pretend that they need to address any issues outside of those which are devolved as to do so would be deceptive to voters.

Finally, as to the pensions pledge being costed - I'll have to disagree. Scrapping one-off projects like ID cards and Trident may pay for increased pensions for a very short short period, however as the national pension system in the UK operates like a large ponzi-scheme whereby people working now pay the pensions of those who are retired, it would be unsustainable in the long term. There are too few people of working age to support the increasing number of pensioners. Pensions need root and branch reform from their current ponzi-scheme nature to something like personal pension accounts. Material for a later post perhaps.

Independent enough for you?

The Druid of Anglesey said...

P.S. Hafod: if you think my post on Dylan Rees was also somehow biased - please feel free to point out anything I wrote which is incorrect.

Hen Ferchetan said...

Druid - this is a General Election to send MP's to London. They simply cannot stand on a platform of policies which they, as MP's, will have no say on (i.e. devolved ones).

The purpose of minority (in UK wide terms) parties setting out policies in manifestos for a General Election is to show the voters what they will fight for when in Westminster and, if the electorate returns a hung parliament, what those MP's will demand in return for their support.

Making promises on devolved issues in a London election would not just be bad PR and stupid but would also deprive the electorate of knowing what their prospective MP will fight for if elected.

MH said...

I'm sure people will be delighted to know that Scotland is now offering a free unicorn to everyone.

It's here.

If Scotland can have it (and a proper parliament, tax setting powers, and a few other things that are probably a little less important than a free unicorn) why can't we?