Plaid Cymru published their election manifesto on 22 November setting out their vision for Wales. The full manifesto can be viewed here:

As each person will have different priorities in this election, the aim here is not to summarise every policy. Instead, below are four areas of interest based on four good questions to ask when reading a manifesto: 

  • What are the headlines? 
  • What long-standing ideas are applied to new problems? 
  • What new issues is the party discussing? 
  • What unanswered questions remain? 

What are the headlines?

Plaid Cymru has long campaigned for a People’s Vote to end the Brexit crisis, to safeguard Wales’s place in Europe”

Arguably one of the most important issues for many people this election is the question of the European Union. Despite Wales voting to leave in the 2016 referendum by 52.5%, Plaid has set out reasons why they believe it would be better for Wales to be within the EU. The manifesto tends to focus on exclusively Welsh-related reasons for remaining in the EU, with a primary focus on farming communities, manufacturing and citizens’ rights. 

For example, the manifesto largely focusses on the economic result that leaving the European Union would have, citing the fact that 200,000 Welsh jobs rely on trade with Europe being frictionless”. The manifesto also outlines large manufacturing companies active in Wales that have announced job losses. Plaid largely blames Brexit for large companies deciding not to invest further in Wales. 

The other key area for Wales and its EU membership is the agricultural sector. In Wales, more than half of a farmer’s income comes from the direct payments received through the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding any potential tariffs that might be applied post-Brexit. Plaid want to avoid this by remaining in the European Union. 

The manifesto also lays out five key priorities for Wales:

  1. Welsh Green Jobs Revolution
  2. Caring for Everyone
  3. A Fair Deal for Families
  4. Action on Housing
  5. Combating Crime

Old news

The manifesto makes reference to Welsh Independence saying, Wales should become an independent member of the European Union”. The time frame for this is by 2030 or before then if circumstances allow”. Further to Welsh independence, the manifesto also sets out plans to increase devolved powers to Wales including financial powers, along withjustice, economic development, welfare and culture policies which are currently reserved to Westminster. The party also advocates for broadcasting powers to be passed to the Senedd, ensuring that Welsh media is produced in Wales. 

Plaid Cymru continue to oppose Trident and argue replacing it would be a waste of at least £205 billion”. They advocate scrapping Trident and investing the money saved in public services and infrastructure. 

The party also continues to call for a National Commission on reforming drug law”. Although the party does not explicitly call for the decriminalisation of some drugs it does give the example of Portugal which has decriminalised cannabis. Referring to the United Kingdom’s current drug policy (which it describes as hardline”) the manifesto says that it criminalises those people who may use drugs medically or recreationally but who do no harm to others”. 

New ideas

Plaid Cymru have outlined several environmental job creation policies, as part of their Welsh Green Jobs Revolution’. Many of these policies Plaid have been advocating for some time but this is the first time some of these policies have been included in a manifesto. Some of their proposals include:

  • Tidal Lagoons for Swansea Bay, Cardiff and Colwyn bay;
  • A new Swansea Bay and Western Valleys metro system;
  • Electrification of the South Wales Valley lines; and 
  • Transport for Wales establishing a publicly owned regional bus company

The manifesto also outlines a £5 billion Greener Homes program to improve the energy efficiency of housing in Wales, which they hope will lead to reducing fuel poverty. 

The manifesto also pledges to use technology to turn the NHS in Wales paperless by making main patient records fully electronic within the next period of government, and having an app for booking appointments. The party believes that this will make the NHS greener and also improve the efficiency of the service. 

What unanswered questions remain?

As you would expect for a political party that only fields candidates in Wales, the manifesto tends to focus on Wales in particular. There are a lot of questions concerning how Plaid Cymru would seek to implement much of their manifesto, and whether they would have the willingness to roll out some of their proposals and vision to the whole of the United Kingdom. A lot of the numbers and figures given in the manifesto exclusively relate to Wales, so there is no financial projection for how much these policies would cost if they were implemented across the whole of the United Kingdom. 

Throughout the manifesto there are references to issues and problems where Welsh Independence is alluded to as being the solution. For example, the manifesto blames the way the economy has been mismanaged by successive centralised London governments” and states We need independence precisely in order to change that”. These sweeping statements are made without outlining how an independent Wales will automatically result in positive economic growth and a stronger economic stability. 

Finally there have been questions raised regarding why Plaid Cymru would want Wales to leave the United Kingdom to form an independent country and then join the European Union, adopting laws and policies not solely made in Wales. Plaid has also not clarified exactly how Wales would be considered for EU membership given its population and size.