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We reject Labour’s hollow vision for Wales

As the Starmer regime parachutes in disconnected candidates and offers little more than hot air, Plaid Cymru is mounting a real challenge to the decades of decay and decline forced on us by Westminster, writes LUKE FLETCHER MS

IT has been just over a fortnight since we witnessed Rishi Sunak slogging through a downpour to declare a general election.

After a less-than-inspiring speech about his government’s achievements and election promises, Sunak returned to No 10 looking like he’d just lost a fight with a garden hose.

By the reckoning of the Establishment consensus, this will likely be the soggy end to a sorry Tory saga.

The Tories have had one of the worst starts to a political campaign in recent memory — this election seems almost impossible for Labour to fumble. Yet recent weeks have illuminated some of the serious cracks in Labour’s hegemonic influence in Wales.

Indeed, while Sunak glanced skyward to see nothing but pouring rain as he announced the general election in Downing Street, here in Wales, our skies were soon dotted with Labour hopefuls parachuting in from party HQ.

Labour’s decision to impose candidates in Cardiff West and Swansea West, candidates with little to no connection to the areas in which they’re standing, is nothing short of a blatant show of disregard for local party members and Welsh voters.

This is to say nothing of Keir Starmer’s main offer for Wales and Britain more broadly, which appears to be hot air and bland delirium. Starved of relevant ideas and with no genuine distinction to be drawn between the substance of Labour and Tory policies, Labour’s pitch hinges on their more competent administration of a failing state.

Over the past two years, Citizens Advice Cymru has provided more assistance with energy debt and crisis support than at any other time in the past five years.

And what are Starmer’s plans for energy? We’re not too sure. Not even he seems to know.

Much has been made in recent weeks of Great British Energy since it was announced. During his dire televised debate with Sunak earlier this week, Starmer claimed that this would be a publicly owned company that would generate energy, just several days after getting on the radio and saying that it would be an investment vehicle.

Suffice it to say, scratch the surface and what you get is …  nothing. This is far from what people want and, dare I say, need. We need the state to intervene at the generation, transmission and retail end of the energy market for the benefit of us all. It’s no secret that at every level, profit is maximised and extracted. This is a basic utility, necessary for everyone in their everyday lives, and companies are making a mint on it.

One of Starmer’s claims is that GB Energy will somehow finance offshore wind developments in Wales, the dividends of which will, presumably, fill British coffers.

Plaid Cymru believes that we should cut out the middleman here and seek full powers over the crown estate and the Welsh grid, firm in our view that Wales should have its own sovereign wealth fund, using the profits taken from offshore wind to redistribute and invest in communities across Wales.

Whatever the result of this election, socialism is off the table for the foreseeable future. Starmer’s overhaul of the party looks set to outlast whatever result comes on July 4.

His internal campaign of deselection and purging of left-wing candidates and politicians is both a symptom of — and a distraction from — the total vacuousness of his party’s offer to Wales and Britain. There is nothing behind the rhetoric, nothing to back up the spin. The viability of left-wing accommodation within the Parliamentary Labour Party rests on an article of faith.

Closer to home, the election campaign that Labour is running in Wales is chock-full of wilful misrepresentations that blur the lines when it comes to devolution and the Labour Party’s active role in the problems we face in Wales.

In perhaps one of the more bizarre examples of this, we saw the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services posing with placards, upon which were promises to “modernise the NHS,” as if to relieve herself and her party of responsibility for their part in running that institution in Wales for a quarter of a century.

Then, we have Labour’s “six steps for Wales,” where each step is more vapid and cumbersome than the last. The steps, which include delivering economic stability, cutting NHS waiting times and recruiting teachers, are areas which, yes, need serious attention and structural solutions.

However, these are areas in which it is currently failing, and while a portion of the blame can be laid at Westminster’s door, Welsh Labour won’t rock the boat and fight for the powers we need to engage in a genuine transformation of our economy, our health service, social care, and our education system.

There is, however, an alternative.

While the two main London parties duke it out in a pantomime slap-fight, Plaid Cymru has been getting out and campaigning in the communities we aim to represent.

Our goal is to prove that in Wales, there is a refreshing alternative to the same old Westminster politics and a genuine offer that puts the interests of Wales and its many diverse communities first.

From the conversations I have had since the general election was announced, it’s clear that people are ready for something different.

In Plaid Cymru, people will have candidates rooted in their communities: strong local champions who’ll be Wales’s voice in Westminster — not Westminster’s voice in Wales.

Under Labour’s watch, Wales is declining — but it doesn’t have to be this way. Plaid Cymru is dedicated to long-term, strategic planning, rather than the reactive approach that leaves us at Westminster’s whim.

We’re committed to fighting for a fair funding settlement for Wales — a cause ignored by Conservatives and dismissed by Labour.

Whether it’s farmers, steelworkers, small business owners or unpaid carers, learners, and our elderly, Plaid Cymru will always demand the best for the people of Wales.

Luke Fletcher is MS for South Wales West and the Plaid Cymru economy spokesperson. Follow him on Twitter @FletcherPlaid.

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