It appears that BlogMenai has accepted that I did not cherry-pick polls to support my hypothesis as he originally claimed. Significantly he has also rowed back from his claim that certain polls show that Labour would be able to form a coalition government with just Plaid and the SNP without any need for the Lib Dems - this he now says is just "one possibility". True, anything is possible - but that does not mean that it is probable. And this was exactly the point I was making in my original post. Plaid's Ynys Môn candidate, Dylan Rees, wrote in a letter to the Daily Post that in the event of a hung parliament "Plaid Cymru will have an even more influential role to play" - in other words he presents it as a certainty, i.e. if there's a hung parliament Plaid will definitely be more influential and will definitely bring home the bacon, therefore vote for us. My post attempted to demonstrate that Rees's comments are deceptive because the probability of Plaid's support being essential to either a Conservative or Labour led coalition government are statistically remote. I don't want to repeat the whole thing here so please do read the original here, which I stand by.
The "Get Out Of Jail Free" card
BlogMenai goes on to say that I am wrong to suggest that Labour and Plaid Cymru have failed Anglesey despite them having been politically responsible for the Island for almost a quarter of a century. Don't those nasty Tories deserve a portion of the blame as they were in power from 1979-97 he asks?
This, as we know, is Labour and Plaid Cymru's all purpose "Get Out Of Jail Free" card as neither party are able to accept that Wales has any economic problems that weren't caused by the the last Tory government. Here's Labour's Albert Owen giving a demonstration par excellence on how to play the card on the Politics Show last month:
Politics Show Interviewer: I think everyone I've spoken to [in Anglesey] has said that jobs and regeneration are the two huge issues. We've had a Labour government for 13 years, is it your fault? Is it Tony Blair's fault that Anglesey is suffering?
Albert Owen: No, I came into politics in the 80s when it was a damn sight worse than it is now, we have to be honest about that. There was mass unemployment and mass depopulation in the 80s and 90s. Its certainly a lot better now.
See how it works? Playing the Get Out Of Jail Free card simultaneously allows the user to claim the moral high ground whilst at the same time abdicating himself of any responsibility whatsoever. Nuthin' to do with me, Guv - it was those nasty Tories.
Well, sorry, but after more than 13 years that particular "Get Out Of Jail Free" card has expired. In fact on Anglesey its arguable how relevant it ever was. The 80s and 90s were undoubtedly tough but almost all of Anglesey's main employers survived and have only begun closing over the past couple of years:
- Anglesey Aluminium started smelting in 1971 and continued production all the way through the 80s and 90s, only closing with a loss of 400 jobs in September 2009
- The Wylfa Nuclear Powerstation was also commissioned in 1971, carried on through the 80s and 90s and is now only months away from being decommissioned
- The Octel chemical plant in Amlwch began production in 1953 and continued through the 80s and 90s (under various different names) until it closed in 2005
- The Eaton Electric plant in Holyhead opened in 1960 under the name Midland Electric Manufacturing Company, it operated all through the 80s and 90s and only closed in December 2009 with a loss of 250 jobs
- The Peboc Eastman chemical plant in Llangefni was established in 1970, continued production all through the 80s and 90s, and only closed its doors in 2008 with a loss of 100 jobs
- Anglesey is an island of farmers, yet the economic contribution of agriculture in North Wales (including Anglesey) has declined by a staggering 67 per cent during the period 1997-2007, compared to an overall UK decline of just 7 per cent. You only need to compare a visit to the Morgan Evans livestock auctions in the 80s or 90s with one now to see how things have declined
- This decimation of agriculture on Anglesey has directly affected the abattoir and meat-packaging plant in Gaerwen (now called Welsh Country Foods and part of the Vion Group) which began operating back in 1980s and continued throughout that decade and the 1990s; it has only begun downsizing this year with a loss of 200 jobs; the chicken processing plant in Llangefni, commonly known as 'Chuckies' and owned by the same company was established even earlier and also continued production throughout the 80s and 90s, until it lost a whole shift (140 jobs) last year
Whereas in the 80s and 90s these companies or industries were able to retrench during the hard times and then take on more employees when the economy recovered - that isn't going to happen this time as they are gone and its unclear where any new jobs are going to come from when the economy eventually recovers. That must tell us something about the current business environment and the policies which have been implemented from Westminster and Cardiff for the past 13 years. Plus when you are officially the poorest place in the UK things by definition can't have been any worse - or at least have not improved. As much as Labour and Plaid want to wriggle out of accepting any responsibility for this - they cannot.
Plaid's Ieuan Wyn Jones has been either MP or AM for Anglesey for 23 years (!) and yet amazingly BlogMenai actually portrays his lack of results as a virtue. He says I'm advocating the "pork barrel" politics characteristic of Ireland or the US whereby elected representatives compete to bring large-scale projects (the so called "pork") back to their constituencies. Therefore according to BlogMenai's warped logic we should actually be praising Ieuan's integrity for having brought nothing back to the Island he's represented for 23 years...
...The alternative reason could of course just be that Ieuan Wyn Jones is not up to the job.