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Plaid Cymru leader has vision of UK driving EU reform

by John Osmond | 06.12.2018

Reform should be the dominant message for any campaign for staying inside the EU, Plaid Cymru’s leader Adam Price declared in a passionate address to the European Policy Centre in Brussels last week.

The Remain campaign sent the wrong message, he argued. In 2016 the Leave vote had been powered by the longest period of declining real incomes in the “recorded economic history” of the UK  – which means going back to the early nineteenth century. People did not wish to “Remain” with that.

The Leave vote had also been motivated by opposition to spending cuts to schools, hospitals and local services. People certainly didn’t want to “Remain” with that either, Price said.

Instead the rallying call for the forthcoming referendum should be to stay in and change the EU. The UK should push for a modern “Marshall Plan” to reinvigorate our poorer communities and drive the creation of quality jobs.

“This should be the centrepiece of EU economic and social strategy,” Price said. “That would give meaning to the shared solidarity that is expressed through the Delors principle of economic and social cohesion that is at the heart of the European Union Project.”

Reform also meant renewing democracy, which he argued was even more fundamental. The increasing alienation of people from the political class, across the whole of the EU was threatening its very existence.

“Following the Second World War the building blocks of the EU were the nation states. Today we need to take more account of the smaller European nations – Catalonia, Brittany, Flanders, Sardinia, Scotland, Wales, and many more.

“We are represented in the European Parliament through our grouping, the European Free Alliance.

“The reformed Europe that I am advocating will need to give much greater emphasis to this democratic base. If it does not it will increasingly be viewed as the tool of the political elite.

“After all, it was the great Breton nationalist Yann Fouéré who in the 1960s coined the term L’Europe aux cent drapeaux (Europe of a hundred flags). That still encapsulates for us the full meaning of the European Union’s catchphrase, our unity in diversity.”

‘Democracy is not static’

Price rejected claims that a People’s Vote would be undemocratic, undermining the outcome of the vote in 2016.

“You might as well say that a forthcoming general election would undermine the result of the last one,” he said. ‘Democracy is not static. It is not a one-off event. Rather it is a process, one of continual renewal.’

Some fear that the UK has solidified into two warring camps that can’t be reconciled. The response, Price said, should be to examine the evidence. The latest opinion polls in Wales showed there had been a 10% shift from Leave to staying in the EU.

“But more tangibly, the momentum of the debate has shifted. The campaigning organisation Wales for Europe now has groups in every local authority across the country. They are campaigning on the streets every week.

“There is a growing network of activists that simply did not exist during the referendum campaign in 2016. And let us not forget, in Wales, a country of three million people, the Leave majority in 2016 was only 82,000.”

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

8 Responses to “Plaid Cymru leader has vision of UK driving EU reform”

  • Brilliant speech and a truly creative vision of the future. Corbyn should have been making this case but it has taken John Osmond to show the way forward. Well done to him. He has articulated an argument that many of us will agree wholeheartedly with.
    Cameon told us all he was going to Brussels to sort them out! He made alliances with right wing fringe Eurosceptic groups which obviously got him no where. Arrogance does not pay and his approach was boneheaded. Likewise, the donkey Farage who shamed us with his ‘You’re not laughing now’ line to the European Parliament. I truly dislike this ‘them’ and ‘us’ narrative which leads to racism and extreme nationalism. The UK belongs in the EU and should be taking a positive leading role in shaping a secure future for our continent.

  • Please, please can we have lots more politicianslikeAdam Price – poloticians with a sense of vision that can benefit everyone in the UK.

  • Apologise for confusing John Osmond with Adam Price. Mr Price is probably not a household name but he has set out an agenda that should have been promulgated by someone with a higher profile. I shall follow Mr Price much more closely in the future. I think he has spoken such good sense. That would be beyond the wit of May etc

  • Agreed, this was an excellent speech. We should certainly be in there with the other EU27, driving forward a reform agenda as Adam Price proposes. But reform at home is at least equally, and I would say even more, important. Many of the Leave voters are in disadvantaged areas of the country that have shared in little, if any, of the general growth in the UK’s overall prosperity over recent decades, and feel (probably rightly) disregarded by the relatively well-off politicians in London who govern them. These people were encouraged by irresponsible Brexiteers and news media to blame all their grievances on the EU, and due to much money being paid to the EU rather than to them. In fact virtually all their problems are home-grown, and leaving (or deciding not to leave, for that matter) the EU will make little difference to their circumstances – unless there is wholesale reform of the entire UK constitution.

    It would take a book to go through all the desirable reforms thoroughly, but here is a short list of topics:
    1. A break up of England into some 8 to 10, maybe, regions, and giving them maximum autonomy, with powers comparable to those enjoyed by Scotland. The Westminster Parliament would become a federal assembly, retaining direct responsibility over only constitutional issues, foreign affairs, defence and the economy. It would not need to be anything like its current size and should be dramatically reduced.
    2. The regions would be largely self-governing, like Scotland, and have Assemblies/Parliaments elected by a reasonably proportional system, such as the Single Transferable Vote – which Wales is intending to adopt, N. Ireland has, and Scotland uses for local authority elections. We must get away from the First Past the Post system that has led to the current mayhem in a largely 2 party Parliament, both of which have been hi-jacked by extremist factions.
    3. The English County Councils would all be merged together in their respective regions, and provide the necessary administrative facilities for each. District Councils would probably remain much as they are.
    4. The House of Lords should be radically reformed and reduced, and elected on a system different from that used for the Commons.
    5. There should be an actively pursued policy for encouraging innovation, investment and entrepreneurial activity in all the different regions of the UK, with resources positively directed to those most in need, and encouragement of population movements to those areas best able to accommodate them, so relieving the pressures on the South East in particular – not least on its water resources.

    With such a reform agenda being actively pursued, Brexit should become irrelevant, and eventually forgotten.

  • Adam Price was my MP and an excellent one. I like much of what he has to say about Brexit. However, in our great need to insist on a People’s Vote, we seem to be losing sight of some fundamentally important issues. We have to address Climate Change, the most pressing issue for the whole world. We also need desperately to equalise society and get rid of the increasing gap between haves and have-nots. Neo-Liberalism is our foe. We could go a very long way towards combatting climate change and social and economic disparity, by taxing the multi-nationals and The Rich.
    Meanwhile, let’s make sure that the disaster of Brexit does NOT happen!

  • At last someone articulated what a lot of people feel. This approach solves so many problems, Ireland, supply chains, British in Europe etc