Annibyniaeth yw’r ateb i Gymru, meddai Liz Saville Roberts

Cyhoeddwyd yr erthygl hon yn ‘The National’ 26/06/2022


Liz Saville Roberts MP: Wales can do better than banking on England

With two humiliating defeats and the resignation of Tory party chair – it’s clear that Boris Johnson is a dead man walking. But with a weak opposition to the Tories in Westminster we can’t bank on England voting for the best of a bad bunch as the answer to Wales’ problems. 

Shackled by constant civil war, including the lingering threat of punishing Labour frontbenchers for standing in solidarity with striking rail workers, Kier Starmer lacks a credible vision for anything, least of all for Wales.

Rather than extend the hand of cooperation like his Senedd colleagues have done, adopting key Plaid Cymru policies such as free school meals for all primary children, the modernisation of our political institutions, and devolving the Crown Estate, Labour in Westminster continue to snipe, bark and chase their own tails. 

Six years on from a botched and damaging Brexit and two years on from becoming Labour’s leader, the Welsh and UK public have little idea what, if anything, Starmer and his team stand for.

This means that Boris Johnson – a serial rule-breaker who is besmirching the British State’s already crumbling institutions with the stain of corruption – continues to linger.

Wounded, perhaps fatally, by this week’s by-elections, Johnson’s government is doing everything it can to keep its unsustainable electoral coalition of Tory in-groups together.

This selfish swirling mess of politics, motivated by pure self-preservation, threatens lasting and very real damage. What makes it even more dangerous is that Labour allows it to happen. 

Take Brexit, which the Office for Budget Responsibility thinks will cause twice as much long-term economic damage than Covid and costs £40 billion of lost tax revenues annually.

Rather than address the economic damage, Labour instead tries to out-Brexit the Tory party by speaking against freedom of movement and censoring Welsh Labour MPs for daring to advocate the sensible solution of rejoining the Single Market. 

If not Brexit, what about Labour’s rejection of its responsibility to workers with its leadership’s less than enthusiastic support for the RMT Union? While no doubt the union’s disassociation from Labour can’t have helped, it is remarkable that the current leader of the Labour party is threatening to sack Shadow Cabinet over their presence on the picket line. 

And finally, how should we understand Labour’s shameful silence on Rwanda? Rather than be honest and talk about the moral vacuum at the heart of this cruel policy, the Labour leader has instead focused on the economic cost of deportations.

With the Government now threatening to walk away from a Court which was collectively established to address the horrors of Nazism and rebuild Europe, we have had nothing but a silent response from Keir Starmer. 

Labour have to do better. My fear is that they won’t. 

This is a genuine fear. Plaid Cymru can – when it is in the interests of Wales and common issues like climate change and Europe – work with Labour and others to secure the best possible future. 

Indeed, Plaid Cymru have shown that by working with the Labour Welsh Government, we can strengthen Welsh political institutions and tackle the cost-of-living crisis with measures like universal free school meals. That is, of course, if Labour Senedd members resist the lobbying of the more devolution-sceptic wing of the party in Westminster.

In the near future, Wales with the rest of the UK will be asked to go to the polls for the next Westminster election. Again, Labour will push that hollow trope – ‘its either us or the Tories’. This is simply untrue – and worse – dangerous for Wales. 

As it stands, there is dangerously very little in terms of ideas, vision or strategy that separates the declining Tories and the stale, visionless London Labour party.

A vote for Labour would not repair the economic damage of Brexit – the mountain of red tape for our small businesses, loss of export markets and labour – or the shame of deportations. It certainly would do nothing for the cost-of-living and climate crises. 

Plaid Cymru is in reality the only real opposition to the Tories in Wales. Independence is the only long-term solutions to our problems.

With support for independence at 32 per cent according to a new YouGov / ITV Wales poll last week, Wales is awake to the possibility of change. We in Wales are at the same level of support as Scotland when they started their first independence referendum. 

We don’t have to choose the best of a bad bunch in Westminster. We can achieve a better future, and in the meantime build the institutions to deliver it.