Or is it..? The truth is that this is yet another policy issue where Ieuan Wyn Jones has been unable to lead his party to the direct detriment of the constituency he represents:
- Despite Ieuan Wyn Jones apparently being in favour of nuclear power (in Anglesey anyway), Plaid Cymru is steadfastly against any nuclear installations in Wales.
- Despite RAF Valley being one of the last remaining large employers on Anglesey, Ieuan Wyn Jones declined to slap down or even respond to Plaid MP Elfyn Llwyd's calls to ban the RAF from conducting low-flying training in Snowdonia -- the very raison d'etre of RAF Valley.
Has there ever been such a weak party leader?
Furthermore, in his speech to conference yesterday, Ieuan Wyn Jones made the following bold claims:
"Managing Wales may be what other parties are about, but for Plaid putting up with things as they are, just doesn't feel right ... I didn't come into politics to manage Wales. I came into politics because I wanted to change Wales, and change Wales for the better"
Its just as well he doesn't want to "manage" Wales because, as we have just seen, he can't even effectively manage his own party.
Secondly, with regards to Ieuan's claim to want "to change Wales, and change Wales for the better", I invite all readers to examine his record here on Anglesey - a constituency he has represented as either MP or AM for the past 25 years:
- Anglesey is the poorest sub-region in the United Kingdom with the lowest Gross Value Added (GVA) per head in the United Kingdom. At £10,998 per head, Anglesey’s GVA is just 55.1 per cent of the UK’s average. 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 under 25 years of IWJ.
- Anglesey is poorer than some of the poorest parts of rural Poland according to the 2009 OECD Factbook.
- Data for full-time employees show that average earnings in Anglesey were approx. £396 per week in 2007, compared with £415 per week in Wales and £456 per week in the UK. It should be noted that gross average earnings on the Island were distorted by wages paid to employees at Wylfa and Anglesey Aluminium, which are substantially higher than other wages in the area.
- However we don't have to worry about Anglesey Aluminium distorting average earnings on the Island anymore because it was forced to close in 2009 wiping out at least 450 direct jobs and an estimated further 240 jobs through indirect and induced effects.
- In addition Anglesey has also lost Octel in Amlwch, Eaton Electric in Holyhead (240 jobs), Peboc in Llangefni (100 jobs), Menai Electrical in Gaerwen (50 jobs), Readileads (35 jobs) and Vion/Welsh Country Foods has restructured in Llangefni and Gaerwen (191 jobs). These are on top of the countless other jobs lost at small businesses throughout the Island which aren’t reported in the local press.
- In fact, according to research by the University of Wales, since 2001 there has been a decrease of 2,100 jobs in private sector employment on Anglesey and the proportion of those employed in the private sector has decreased from 74 per cent to 67 per cent.
- Anglesey is currently suffering from an employment ‘triple whammy’, with the lowest level of employment coupled with the highest rates of job-seekers claimants and economic inactivity in North Wales.
- Remarkably farming in North Wales has fared even worse than business. During the period 1997 to 2007, the economic contribution of agriculture to the North Wales and Anglesey economy fell by a staggering 67 per cent compared to an overall UK decline of just 7 per cent.
- On top of all this, Anglesey County Council is poorly managed, riven with infighting, and planning on raising Council Tax by 15% over three years.
Now you may say that it is unfair to blame IWJ for all of this - and you'd be right. As Anglesey residents, the best we can say for him is that he has made exactly zero difference whatsoever to the constituency he has represented for the past quarter of a century. "Putting up with things as they are" is actually exactly what he has done here on Ynys Môn -- hardly a record to inspire confidence in his ability to transform Wales for the better.