Thursday, March 15, 2018


There is an old saying that goes along the lines of if you stand in the same place long enough everyone will walk past you at least twice. The bearded one, during another largely pointless point scoring exchange between himself and TM in the House of Commons on Tuesday, described himself as a democratic socialist (with a silent unionist not thrown in for good measure).

The problem is that the bearded one's vision / version is neither that democratic or that socialist, at least from a Welsh or Scottish perspective, and neither is is particularly original, visionary  or new. His vision of a democratic socialist UK which does not have a place for our national interest(s) which don't feature on the centralising statist agenda, is like something out of the mid to late 1970’s.

If it were possible to remove the Scottish parliament and the as yet not fully fledged but soon to be Welsh parliament, I am sure that JC and his ilk would not hesitate for a moment. His ilk will lay down their rhetoric for Ireland, Palestine or other deserving blue water causes and pine for a centralised British republic but remain strangely silent when it comes to Wales, Scotland or England for that matter, along with displaying spectacular perhaps Islington or metropolitan centric ignorance of devolved matters outside of the M25.

Despite the beardy spin, this is the same old centralist enemy - with the same old rebranded statist solutions - which failed to deliver last time. We, in Wales, have been here before. The centralists have promised much and delivered little that was lasting, save for a faint echo or faint ghost of long departed industrial and regional development. The underlying feature of the UK has always been that of centralism, it has never really gone away despite the roll out of devolution to redress the democratic deficit in the late 1990’s.   

Post Brexit both the Conservatives and the party formerly known as New Labour will eagerly grasp the opportunity to build their vision of a new centralist union. Westminster-rule has failed to deliver for much of Wales in most of my lifetime and it appears that things are only going to get worse as Whitehall ‘Britocrats’ scramble to protect the City of London at all costs, while our manufacturers and exporters are left to wither on the wine. 

If nothing else recent developments have shown how important it is that we actively resist Westminster’s attempts to roll back devolution through the Withdrawal Bill. This also shows the importance of Plaid AM Steffan Lewis’s Continuity Bill which is vital step to ensure Westminster ride rough shod over our hard-won right to run our own affairs.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


PM must impose immediate sanctions on sale of nuclear substances to Russia – Plaid Cymru

Russia is the UK’s biggest customer of depleted uranium, Plaid Cymru has revealed, with £1.2 million worth of the weapons-grade substance sold to Russia in 2016.

The UK’s total exports of depleted uranium in 2016 was £1.3 million, 92% of which was exported to Russia.

Depleted uranium is a by-product of the production of enriched uranium, which is used as fuel in nuclear reactors and in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

Depleted uranium has a range of military uses as a high-density substance, including the manufacture of fission bombs. Its use is controversial due to concerns about potential long-term health effects, which have become apparent since its deployment for the first time in the Gulf War.

The European Parliament has repeatedly passed resolutions requesting an immediate moratorium on the further use of depleted uranium ammunition, but the UK has consistently rejected calls for a ban, maintaining that its use is legal, and that the health risks are unsubstantiated.

In 2007, the UK voted again against a United Nations General Assembly resolution to hold a debate in 2009 about the effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium.

Plaid Cymru’s Parliamentary leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP, has called on the UK Government to impose immediate sanctions on the export of nuclear substances to Russia at a time when international tensions are fraught.

Commenting, Plaid Cymru’s Parliamentary leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP, said:

“This is an astonishing revelation that amidst all the tough talk from the Prime Minister about retaliation and sanctions in response to the assassination of Sergei Skripal, Russia remains the UK’s biggest customer of dangerous, weapons-grade depleted uranium.

“A state-sponsored assassination on English soil is a very serious act of aggression to which we must respond vigorously. But the revelation that we are selling millions of pounds worth of weapons-grade nuclear substances to Russia undermines the Prime Minister’s authority on the world stage.

“I greatly fear we are entering a very dangerous phase in international relations where the post-Cold War order may quickly evaporate. There are genuine fears that the world could quickly spiral into a second Cold War as the war of rhetoric between the US, Russia and China escalates into another dangerous arms race. The least we can do is to stop fuelling it.

“The UK Government’s own guidance states that depleted uranium should only be sold to customers who meet a set of criteria, including customers who can convey the intended end-use for the substance. By the UK Government’s own admission, the Russian state is not trustworthy.

“To put the safety of our people first, Theresa May should surely impose immediate sanctions on the sale of nuclear substances to Russia.”


Statistics taken from Trade Accelerator: which we verified as a reputable source through the House of Commons Library.

March 2007, European Parliament Resolution on the harmful effects of depleted uranium:

United Nations General Assembly vote on a resolution to hold a debate in 2009 about the effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium:

Monday, March 12, 2018


Small businesses play a significant role at the heart of our communities; they create wealth and sustainable employment opportunities for local people. Profits and investments made by them tend to stay within the communities where they are based. So rather than plunder small to medium sized entrepreneurs from Bristol, we need to grow and sustain our own small business creators in Newport and across Gwent and to make our towns and cities business SME friendly.

For too many years economic development in Wales has been focused on large scale development of what can be best described a single egg solutions, which promise much and deliver significantly less, the focus should be on developing small to medium size local businesses, which are significantly less likely to up sticks and leave for perceived greener pastures and fresh applications of development grants.

This focus on attracting large-scale single source enterprises, which promise much but deliver significantly less than anticipated, is short sighted in the extreme. The LG development near Newport, was a good example of an expensive disaster / fiasco [please take your pick] which promised the usual total of 6,000 jobs - accrued significant public funding - which was committed by the then Welsh Secretary, William Hague, yet never delivered anything like a third of what was promised.

A combination of what can best be described as fantasy island economic assessments, a fatally flawed business case and a forthcoming Westminster election led to one of the spectacularly duller decisions of recent years being made, something that ended up costing us millions of pounds worth of public money. The WDA has in truth not really consistently delivered anything like long-term economic stability and much needed long-term job opportunities to our communities that it should have done.

European funding opportunities (soon to be a thing of the past) have been seriously wasted, where are the significant tangible assets, beyond some visibly badged infrastructure projects that you can literally put your hand on like improved communications (rail, road, broadband infrastructure, etc) that can bring long term benefits to our communities.

Amongst the questions that should have been asked is how much money has been scammed (and scammed may be the key word) into dubious training programmes and questionable educations programmes that fail to deliver the necessary skills that workers and potential workers need to make a decent living in the modern economy?

Back in the day the Plaid driven One Wales Government made significant efforts and attempts to think and act differently when it came to economic development and support for small to medium sized enterprises. This is the only real thing that will put wealth into our communities, and develop and sustain longer-term employment possibilities.

Attracting branch factory operations of a relative short-term duration might get some headlines but it does not help to sustain and develop our economy. We really do need to think differently and focus economic development priorities on smaller local businesses who will be rooted in our communities and offer more flexible employment opportunities.

Friars Walk in Newport is a welcome exception to the last thirty five years, when across the south east, we have seen the commercial hearts of many of our communities (including Newport) seriously damaged (if not ripped out) as a result of a combination of aggressive policies pursued by the larger retail chains and exceptionally poor decision-making on the part of local government and central government indifference.

When combined with the rapid growth of unsustainable, ill-thought out and more than questionable out of town and edge of town retail developments which leave next to no place for the smaller local businesses and retailers and deprive consumers of real choice. When you factor in parking charges, business rates and the effect of the closure of high street banks and post offices in many of our communities and you begin to see why many of our smaller businesses and local shopping centres are up against it.

Local small businesses as well as trading with us the consumers also trade with each other - so the community gets twice the benefit. Money spent by and in local businesses spends on average three times longer in the local economy than that spent with chain stores which is instantly lost to the local economy which in times of recession our communities can ill afford.

Our National Assembly needs to have the power to vary business taxes in order to help boost our businesses, as well as encourage investment in skills and the tools of their businesses and their workers. If we are going to make Wales a nation of aspiring entrepreneurs and to encourage and enable them, our communities and our economy to flourish we need to encourage the development of community owned social enterprises.

It should be pretty clear to most people that before and after the banking crash - the present financial market and its institutions have failed over recent years to supply sufficient venture capital for the SME sector in Wales. One step forward would a venture capital fund for Wales, which should be established by, but independent of the Welsh Assembly Government

Such an independent venture capital fund could raise capital and deliver investment through a co-investment model, with approved private sector partners to our SME sector, where such investment would make a real difference. More of the same old twaddle from Whitehall and Cathay’s just simply won't do at all, vastly expensive one egg, one basket schemes to generate the seemingly standard 6,000 jobs, just won't do.

What we need is fresh thinking and action from the new government - more than just talk, we need some concrete steps to encourage growth, boost manufacturing industry, support our small to medium sized enterprises and an end to the business rates and that's just to start with.  Otherwise it will just be a case of same old, same old with ill thought out public sector cuts which will do nothing to boost our communities, our economy and that’s one thing we cannot afford.

Monday, March 5, 2018


laid Cymru - The Party of Wales, in Newport has submitted its response to the NCC request for comments on its ‘Newport Summit - City Centre Master plan’ proposals, before the deadline of March 5th. 

Peter Keelan, Plaid Newport City Development Spokesperson, said:

“The current City Council proposals are too short-term, Newport’s problems are not going to be fixed’ ready for the next local elections. The Council’s current proposals are too timid and show too little ambition and lack any clear joined up thinking as well as indicating a lack of any real coherent strategy’ and or well thought out action-plan to get us out of the recession in Newport.” 

He continued:

“Our city might be seen by the unambitious as a provincial town somewhere in Britain, but for those with vision it is potentially one of the three great cities in Wales, and can act as the “gateway to Wales” for visitors to Wales. Newport should aim to be a ‘Celtic City of Culture’, to progress in the same ways as cities like Aberdeen, Cork, and Swansea. Newport is not and it should not become simply a northern western suburb of Bristol.”

Peter concluded:

“We recommend creating a visually stunning iconic 21st century axis of buildings along Usk Way, that complements our stunning architectural 19th century axis along Commercial Street, plus exploring how, and when, a major international branch of the V&A fine arts museum could open in Newport, in a signature architectural building along the River Usk and devolving of an Office of National Statistics to Wales based in Newport, to initiate, develop, and provide statistical support across all areas of National Assembly powers, plus on the Rodney Parade side of the riverfront there exists the opportunity to create an international quality ‘sports village’ facility, right in the heart of the city centre area.”