We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Having a Pop at Plaid

October 12, 2013 7:06 PM

Plaid Cymru have been in Aberystwyth this weekend for their Conference, and have been regaling us with some of their new policy ideas.

The economy features quite a bit, it is an important strand of their policy making, along with jobs for young people. They seem to have forgotten that they held the economic development portfolio for four years until 2012 and did precious little with it, but let's not let little things get in the way shall we?

They also seem to have overlooked the fact that the economy and youth jobs are a major priority when they negotiated with the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Welsh Labour Government on the budget over the past few weeks. Whilst we remained consistent in driving forward our education priority via the Pupil Deprivation Grant Plaid didn't see it necessary to try and build on the apprenticeship scheme they wanted set up last year, the outcome of which is unclear.

Health is also important to the party who are trying to convince themselves and anyone who can be bothered to listen that they can form the next Welsh Government. Well as I said, let's not let little things get in the way shall we?

One of their seemingly more bizarre proposals, hot off the back of a brown envelope it would seem, is to charge a tax on sugary drinks. Leader Leanne Wood said

"We must change consumption patterns if we are to stop the obesity epidemic as well as boost resources for healthcare. So, the Welsh Government I will lead will introduce a sugary drink levy of up to 20p per litre. We will employ 1,000 more doctors with the monies raised, bringing Wales up to the UK average and reducing the need to take services further away from people. This is Plaid Cymru's alternative to hospital centralisation."

Now whist the health benefits of such a tax may have some merit there are some very obvious flaws, not the least of which is that currently the Welsh government has no power to impose any such tax. However, let's not let little things get in the way….

The figures just do not add up at all. As reported by Wales Online there is some dispute about how much would be needed to pay for 1000 extra doctors, and consumption would have to rise dramatically to bring in the funds necessary. This would surely negate the purpose of a tax on unhealthy drinks? Would Plaid be actively encouraging people to drink them to keep the wages coming in?

Plaid say this will prevent the need for hospital reorganisation but this is pure pie in the sky politics. When everyone else in the South Wales Central region she is elected to represent was making the case for retention of services at the Royal Glamorgan Leanne was sticking firmly to the line that none of the reorganisation should happen.

What level are these 1000 extra doctors going to be at to start with? That many junior doctors wouldn't solve the problem of not being able to provide Consultant led services in every hospital. Not with-standing the fact that we keep getting told the recruitment issue is not a matter of money. Also of course provision of specialist service isn't only about the number of doctors - there is a need for equipment and training and specialist nurse support - but hey, let's not let little things get in the way shall we?

Karen Roberts

Campaign Manager RCT Welsh Liberal Democrats