Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Leanne Wood backs progressive alliance to combat Westminster's austerity-driven consensus


In a speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) think-tank on Monday, the leader of Plaid Cymru leader called for the establishment of a new “progressive alliance” in Britain to combat the austerity-driven consensus of the three main London-based parties.

Leanne Wood was rightly critical of the Coalition, as well as the Labour Party which has stated that it would stick to spending plans of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

She argued that a “rainbow alliance for a rebalanced, reindustrialised future” was needed to challenge the political establishment that had failed Wales and large parts of England.

Leanne also mentioned Mebyon Kernow and Cornwall on a number of occasions.

Some quotes of interest are as follows:

“Where you are born has as big an influence on your future life prospects as who you are born to. In this inaptly named United Kingdom, the spatial and the social are inter-twined. Geography has as much influence as class. For those who argue that the north-south divide is an over-simplification I would agree to this extent.
“The compass points of poverty in Britain are marked not just by north but by west too.  The line of disadvantage lies between the South-East of England and the rest, although there are, of course, pockets of acute hidden poverty in almost all communities in all parts of Britain.”

”We would like to see a proper regional policy within the union that would provide clear benefits for the regions and nations. We are less vocal on how England’s governance should be arranged – with the exception of supporting Cornwall's right to self-determination – we believe that what happens in England is a matter for people in England.”

”In Plaid Cymru, we often refer to the London Parties. This piece of political short-hand is of course, by no means a political attack on Londoners. Many of them are victims of the same centripetal politics as we are in Wales.

”Reference to the London parties is an attack on a political system that has enshrined the City of London and spiralling, make-believe property prices at the core of economic policy. For over a century the City of London has given priority to international trade over local lending and investment. This has been reflected in the mindset of our politicians, and in their policies – in investment flows and the allocation of resources. Even where the City of London has supported infrastructure investment it has focused on the needs of London and the South East of England.”

“But, if, like us, you are interested in the balancing of Britain now, this would be a good way to go and would be and a step towards what a previous Leader of Plaid Cymru used to call a Brittanic confederation. It’s what we might call today a new Commonwealth of Britain.

“My party – The Party of Wales – would love to work with an Alliance of progressive forces from all parts of England, as well as those in Cornwall with whom we already have a loose alliance.”

 “In 2010 it was Plaid Cymru (and the SNP) who led the calls for a rainbow alliance of progressives which would have stopped the coalition between the Tories and the Lib Dems. A broad network in England, united behind a core set of progressive values could well include the Greens and other environmentalists. It could include the trade union movement, many in the churches and other faith organisations, the new People’s Assembly movement, our sister party Mebyon Kernow in Cornwall, refugees from Labour and the Lib Dems and, yes, refugees from Respect and the SWP, too.
“The potential for an English left-leaning alliance is enormous – and absolutely critical, for without it, the political void in England will be filled only by the knee-jerk reactionaries of UKIP and their ilk.” 

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