Wales

Wales at risk of 'disappearing politically', says Plaid AM

Adam Price
Image caption Adam Price is AM for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr after serving the same area as an MP between 2001 and 2010

Nationalism and creating "a green dam to protect Wales" is the only way to stop the country disappearing politically, a Plaid Cymru AM claimed.

Adam Price said voting Labour "hasn't worked" and left the nation "defenceless".

Prime minister Theresa May hopes the June 8 General Election can give the Conservatives a large majority.

A spokesman said Plaid "does not speak for Wales". Labour said voting Plaid will "hand victory to the Tories".

Wales' Liberal Democrat leader Mark Williams said opposition parties need to "work together" against a Conservative government.

UKIP's Welsh leader Neil Hamilton said his was the only party able to "twist the Tories around our little finger" and Plaid would be "ignored" at Westminster.

Ahead of the election, where the Conservatives are targeting a number of Welsh seats, Mr Price said the issue is whether Wales is "marginalised or magnified" on the political landscape.

"Theresa May decided to call the election while walking in Snowdonia and staying at a party member's holiday home," he said.

"There is a metaphor there. Do we want to be a second home to an English Tory party or masters in our own home?"

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales' Sunday Supplement, Mr Price said the last time there was "a Tory landslide" at an election - in 1983 - it had a huge impact on Wales' coal and steel industries.

A similar result this time, he believes, would have a devastating effect on what is left of the steel industry, agriculture, the economy and lead to Wales disappearing as a "political imperative".

'Invisible'

He added that Scotland is "respected, maybe even feared" in Westminster, while Wales "doesn't appear on the political landscape".

Asked what difference Plaid Cymru could make if it increased its number of MPs at the last election from three to six, Mr Price said all major advances in Wales have been in response to a perceived rise in nationalism.

"In the 1970s, the Welsh Development Agency, the assembly, all because Wales inserted itself on the political landscape," he added.

"We are invisible at the moment because the national movement is weaker."

He said 100 years of Labour voting has not worked for the country and it is "naked against a Tory Brexit rain" and the country now has to "fight to survive" politically.

"Building a green belt (of Plaid Cymru MPs) is what will make us stand out as a political nation, a green dam to protect Wales," he said.

"Labour is disappearing as a political force across the UK, we must now look to ourselves and create a future."

Speaking on the same programme, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Mark Williams described the prospect of the Tories winning more seats in Wales as "hugely concerning".

While he said his party could provide a better main opposition than Labour, he called on all entities "to work together where we can".

Mr Williams ruled out pacts, like the Lib-Dem and Tory coalition, saying "I have the scars (from it)".

But he said he believes in "realignment politics" and aside from the "tribalism" at election time, he wants opposition parties to work together.

A Welsh Conservatives spokesman said: "Plaid Cymru does not speak for Wales. It exists for the sole purpose of ripping Wales apart from the rest of the UK.

"An ambition, if realised, would be an unmitigated disaster for our economy and public services."

He said in "propping up" a Welsh Labour Government, it had only succeeded in "perpetuating cuts to the Welsh NHS, an underperforming education system and failing public services".

Looking ahead to the election, he said there is a choice between a "strong and stable" Tory government or a Labour-led "coalition of chaos".

'Moonshine'

Labour general election campaign chairman Wayne David said his party is the only one that is "standing up for Wales, on jobs, investment in public services and on housing".

"On every key issue facing Wales at this election, Plaid are rudderless and divided, hamstrung by their obsession with dogma over delivery," he added.

Mr David said the party had "no credible plan for infrastructure investment" and said its members had voted with UKIP and the Tories in the assembly to try and block funding for the NHS and schools.

He also accused Plaid of "unforgivably" trying to put the Tories and UKIP in government in Wales by trying to do a deal with them after the last assembly elections.

"Leanne Wood knows her party cannot win the election, and a vote for Plaid Cymru will help hand victory to the Tories," he added.

UKIP's Neil Hamilton described the notion of Plaid forming an opposition to the Tories as "ridiculous", describing Mr Price's comments as "moonshine".

"The Liberal Democrats are even more deluded. They have hitched their wagon to a dead horse, by calling for a second referendum on Brexit," he added.

"Only a vote for UKIP can ensure that Theresa May is looking over her shoulder."

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