Labour and Plaid Cymru’s flawed ideas threaten Wales’ economic recovery post-pandemic, a Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister has warned.
Last night, it emerged the Welsh Labour Government were in talks with Plaid Cymru over a potential co-operation agreement in the Senedd.
A statement from the two parties said they are looking at where they can work together "exploring ways of building a more equal, just and democratic nation for all", despite the two being directly responsible for years of financial failure.
At yesterday’s First Minister’s Questions in the Senedd, the leaders of the two parties – Mark Drakeford and Adam Price – exchanged thoughts over – what would be, if introduced - financially disastrous policies, such as the Universal Basic Income and a four-day-working week.
Commenting, the Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Finance, Peter Fox MS, said:
“The prospect of yet another deal between Labour and Plaid Cymru is a real threat to Wales’ economic recovery post-pandemic.
“Just as Wales tries to bounce back post-pandemic, we see ill-thought ideas, such as cutting working hours and funding millionaires, being banded around by Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru. We need real answers to Wales’ problems, not flawed ideas.
“People in Wales would be right to worry about where this will end up if they’re starting with UBI and a four-day week, they want to see an economy fit for the 21st century, whereas Labour and Plaid clearly want to drag us back to the 1970s.
“Welsh families, workers and businesses need proper support, not fantasy economics – and they certainly don’t need another Labour-Plaid agreement, which has only served to hold back the Welsh economy over the past two decades.”
A transcript of the exchange between Adam Price and Mark Drakeford can be found below:
Adam Price MS:
'The solutions to Wales's problems will never come from Westminster' is, for many us, a foundational truth of Welsh democracy. That's true of the problems that are unique to Wales, but also of the global problems to which Wales is not immune, but which we can make, possibly, our own unique contribution to solving. In that context, it's inspiring to see the momentum growing behind exciting, pioneering ideas like the universal basic income pilot. We in Plaid Cymru welcome the embrace of a new policy experimentalism at the heart of Government, and in that spirit, can I ask: would you be prepared to actively consider extending this to a four-day-working-week pilot that could be run in parallel to that and the UBI? And do you accept, First Minister, if these radical experiments in Welsh social innovation succeed at the pilot stage, then the necessary next step will be identifying those reserved powers in employment, taxation and welfare, which we'll need to fully implement across the country? Wales needs its pilots, but don't we also need a new map and a new shared sense of where we may be heading?
Mark Drakeford MS:
Well, I agree with two important things in what the leader of Plaid Cymru has said, Llywydd. First of all, I absolutely agree that one of the huge advantages of devolution is that it allows for experimentation; that it allows for policy ideas to be tried out, for radical ideas to be given a practical opportunity to demonstrate what they can achieve. And I definitely want this term and this Government to be part of that living laboratory of devolution, as it was referred to, wasn't it, by Bill Clinton in the American context. And I agree as well that the current settlement is far too full of ragged edges, and frankly inexplicable anomalies. How is it that Wales has responsibility for bus services, for train services, for active travel, but it explicitly in the Government of Wales Act said that we have no responsibility for hovercraft services? Now, who was it in Whitewall who thought that of all the things that we could be in charge of in Wales, we expressly could not be trusted to be in charge of hovercrafts? And that is just one example. The last Act that set out the reserved-powers model is shot through with anomalies of that sort. Indeed, the Welsh Government produced a draft Bill that would have produced a much more coherent line between reserved and devolved responsibilities. So, I agree very much with what the leader of Plaid Cymru said: that that is a debate that nobody sensible could regard as concluded.