Thursday, November 29, 2018


Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price today publishes an anthology of notable writings which can be seen as a ‘manifesto’ for Welsh independence.
Wales – The First and Final Colony by Adam Price, published this week by Y Lolfa, is a collection of writings by the politician and Plaid Cymru leader on the politics, history and culture of Wales. In it, Adam offers his ideas for securing a brighter future for Wales.

Adam Price was born to a working class family in a council house in Carmarthenshire the son of Rufus, a miner and Welsh champion boxer, and Angela, who moved to Wales from Worcester.

At 31 years old, he was elected an MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr in 2001 and within a year he was uncovering dodgy dealings between Tony Blair and international steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal. Shortly after, he led a campaign to impeach Mr Blair following the invasion of Iraq – eventually leading to the Chilcot Inquiry.

However, in 2010 he stood down from Parliament and headed to the Kennedy School of Government in Harvard, before taking up a role in an innovation foundation.

He returned to frontline Welsh politics in 2016 when he was elected as an Assembly Member in his home patch of Carmarthen before subsequently becoming leader of Plaid Cymru on 28 September 2018.

Speaking ahead of the book’s publication Adam Price said, 

“I grew up in the shadow of the miners’ struggle of 1984. A struggle which shaped the politics I retain today. 

From council house to House of Commons and from Harvard to Cardiff is not a well-trodden path, but I now face the biggest challenge of my political career – leading the Welsh national movement. But mine and Plaid Cymru’s message to the Welsh people must be simple: Yes Wales Can. 

As the first openly gay man to lead this party and indeed any party in Wales, I am a modern, inclusive leader for a modern, inclusive Wales.

I am confident that we can compose a new future for a new Wales. Labour will not be its author. And nor will it be written for us in the marbled halls of Whitehall and Westminster. It will be written in the streets and shops, the pubs and rugby clubs, the homes and hearts of our nation.

Some may shrug off our hope as blind optimism. I say to you that a successful, independent Wales is not a far-off, unachievable aspiration. It is a firm, near-term, realisable goal.”

Monday, November 26, 2018


Simply making Newport a convenient place to get to other places from it or to quickly pass by is a no brainier and does little to deal with the underlying problems that Newport faces when it comes to retail and commercial activity within the city centre and the lack of easily accessible public transport in and around the city. For whatever reason it is relative easy to come to the conclusion that Newport barely figures in the collective mind of the Welsh Government. 

Relatively recent developments have done little to counter this train of thought - 20 years ago the geographical SE of our country was for most purposes pretty the former county of Gwent - with or without Caerphilly. Now the SE for a variety of purposes includes Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and RCT. This relatively low key change in regional geographical emphasis slipped by almost unnoticed but has done Newport few favours. 

Whereas 20 years ago long term thinkers were concerned about the Severn side agenda now we face the consequences - social, economic and political of the Cardiff capital city Region.. twenty years ago  our SE had one University (the University of Newport) the new SE at one point had  4 universities with Cardiff, Cardiff Metropolitan and University of Glamorgan lumped in together. 

That development combined with UWN management publically falling out with the then Labour in Wales Minister of Education meant that when up against it there would be no cavalry riding to the rescue. All those years that UWN had spent expensively wining and dining Labour in Newport and their cronies counted for nothing - all UWN got rather than support was the sound of silence. Post merger the continued visible run down of Newport City Centre campus does not provide a stable base upon which to build any knowledge and IT focused knowledge quarter. 

Transport wise our home city has missed out on the benefits of the reopening of the Ebbw Vale line to passenger traffic. Newport ceased to be (to a degree) the default initial destination for most travellers as trains run direct to Cardiff. The almost certainly deliberate decision to have trains running direct to Cardiff from Ebbw Vale (which was always the plan) but no slower hourly service to Newport significantly tweaked our regions transport geography. 

Media wise it's much the same, Newport - our country's third largest urban area barely features on our own national media - it was not until fairly recently that Newport (in Gwent) began to appear on the BBC Wales weather map. Football wise things are much the same -  Wrecsam football club gets far more media coverage on BBC Wales than Newport County ever does and this is despite the fact Newport has been in higher division for six years. 

The costly (in many ways) proposed M4 Relief road won't solve Newport and South Gwent traffic problems or cut firm on the short local journeys we have to make because of the lack of an alternative reliable method of public transport. The proposed metro, which could take significant steps towards developing some long overdue integrated public transport infrastructure appears to be more concerns with ferrying people and and out of Cardiff, rather than tackling even indirectly some of the underlying issues affecting Newport. 

We quite simply have to do better than that. What's needed - apart from railway stations at Celtic Lakes, Caerleon / Ponthir, Magor and Llanwern (with adequate, safe and secure park and ride, and other facilities) is an interested system of public transport (with rail, light rail, trams and buses) that stretches north to Cwmbran, east to Magor / Caldicot and Chepstow and West to central and eastern Cardiff providing us with easily accessible realistic alternatives to using our cars. 

Along with a decent easily accessible integrated public transport system - the norm in more than a few paces - we also need to look at creating a level playing field for our local small businesses. The Friars Walk in Newport has been a welcome exception to the last thirty five years, where across the south east, we have seen the commercial hearts of many of our communities (including Newport) seriously damaged (if not ripped out in some cases) as a result of a combination of aggressive policies pursued by the larger retail chains and exceptionally poor decision-making on the part of local government and central government indifference.

When combined with the rapid growth of unsustainable, ill-thought out and more than questionable out of town and edge of town retail developments which leave next to no place for the smaller local businesses and retailers and deprive consumers of real choice. When you factor in parking charges, business rates and the effect of the closure of high street banks and post offices in many of our communities and you begin to see why many of our smaller businesses and local shopping centres are up against it.

We need to focus on creating the right conditions for our local small businesses (and our communities) to not just survive, but to thrive and grow in Newport and across the SE. They are a vital part of the local economy, for as well as trading with us the consumers and customers, they also trade with each other - so the community gets twice the benefit. Money spent by and in local businesses spends on average three times longer in the local economy than that spent with chain stores which is instantly lost to the local economy which in times of recession our communities can ill afford - this are some the reasons why we need to change Newport and change Wales.  

Sunday, November 11, 2018


Plaid Cymru calls for improved veterans’ care on Armistice Day centenary

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster Leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP, has said that Welsh veterans are being let down by both the Welsh and Westminster governments.  

In September Plaid Cymru uncovered statistics that showed that across the UK 66,000 veterans are either homeless, in the justice system or suffering with mental health conditions. The information obtained through a combination of parliamentary questions and research from military charities and academic research shows that former armed forces personnel are being let down by the Westminster Government, and are disproportionately represented compared to the general public, in homelessness, mental health and justice system statistics.

Ms Saville Roberts has also campaigned for residential veterans’ care to be made available in Wales. There is currently no residential treatment facilities for veterans in Wales. The only easily accessible facility, Audley Court in Shropshire announced at the end of 2017 that it would stop offering residential treatments.

The Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP has called on the Welsh Government to “put its money where its mouth is” and fund residential treatment facilities for veterans, which are shown to have profound benefits for treating mental health issues and helping veterans live fruitful lives following military service.

Liz Saville Roberts, who will be representing Plaid Cymru at the Cenotaph in London today, said:

“Today we remember the sacrifices made by so many in order for us to be here today. Their legacy will never be lost to history and their sacrifice should never be underestimated.

“It is not just words that best honours their memory – we need actions too. Action so that their fellow servicemen and women are today treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

“It is shocking that in twenty first century Britain 66,000 veterans are either homeless, in the justice system or suffering with mental health conditions. We may not forget those that gave their lives, but for today’s suffering veterans it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind.  

“With no residential care facilities for veterans in Wales, and the last facility within reasonable distance across the border closing, the Welsh Government needs to put its money where its mouth is and invest in the services that make a difference to veterans lives.  

“Fundamentally, Welsh veterans are being let down by governments in Cardiff and London.”


  • The information provided by Plaid Cymru suggests that some 10,000 veterans are either in prison, on parole or under the supervision of the probation service; around 50,000 are suffering with mental health conditions and a further 6,000 are homeless.

Thursday, November 8, 2018


This Sunday will be the 11th November, at 11am it will be one hundred years to the moment when the Great War - at least on the Western Front came to an end - with the armistice. There are no more living veterans from the First World War, yet people will pause to publically and privately remember the veterans and survivors of more historic and more recent conflicts and particularly those who never came back. 

In Flanders field...
The 947,023 military casualties (with 744,702 of them from these islands) between 1914 and 1918 (by way of comparison with the 264,000 military dead from 1939 - 1945) should still shock us even now.  My family like far too many others in Wales (and elsewhere on these islands) had relatives who served and survived and also relatives who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars and other conflicts. 

My lost relatives (and their missing descendants) have been playing on my mind over the last few years - one of my maternal grandmother’s lost two brothers in the First World War and its aftermath. Her elder brother was a regular soldier, who wrote home and told them not to allow his younger brother to join up and to come out to France. It was too late the younger brother had already joined up was killed in action in 1918 and buried near Amiens. My paternal great grandfather (and my grandfather) both served in the First World War and survived but came back as changed men (as did many).

Coming from a relatively large extended close family, I grew up with a generation of older relatives a number of whom had seen active service in the second world war in the Navy, Army, Air Force and the merchant navy. They like many from those generations rarely talked about their actual experiences of the war, and then perhaps save only occasionally to those whom they had served with, who would have understood, because they had survived similar experiences. Younger relatives have also served in more recent more modern conflicts around the world. 

As I have said previously I have absolutely no problem remembering those who lost their lives and the courage, comradeship and their endurance of those who served in the First World War and other more modern conflicts (and not necessarily those who served in the armed forces). What I have no time whatsoever is rose tinted sentimental nostalgic flag waving foot-tapping pap. As has been said elsewhere, soldiers don’t go into conflict aiming to die - not for the politicians, for patriotism or even us - but they often can end up dying with their friends and comrades with whom they served. 

The first world war was the first conflict when real concerted efforts were made to remember and record all of those who had fallen - particularly because of the decision (taken for a variety of reasons) not to bring the fallen home for burial. One consequence is that far too many literally still lie in corners of foreign fields, are names on war memorials, faded photographs, faded memories or too many literally have no grave at all. 

Speaking of another bloody conflict, US President Abraham Lincoln rightly noted at Gettysburg the fallen had given their last full measure of devotion. And that what we do or say does not really matter in comparison with what the fallen (and those who survived) had done. It may be more true today that the world will little note the current crop of political leader’s lyrical offerings on conflict (recent or older) or long remember them. 

What we should never forget what the former soldiers and veterans did and what they went through. We should not just cherish their memory but should ensure that after their military service they remain fully honoured as is the military covenant. Never again should it be found that dead heroes are cheaper to honour  than live ones. 

Monday, November 5, 2018


Last weekend saw the annual commemoration of the Chartists in Newport and across the South East. The Chartists struggle for the vote (and equal rights) was a long one, culminating initially with the Newport Rising in on 4th November 1839. The Chartist commemorations in Newport continue to go from strength to strength - with a combination of public events, marches, concerts, street theatre and an academic conference. 

The commemoration will hopefully continue to grow and develop as I t makes a real and positive contribution to Newport. We should continue to remember the Chartists here in Newport and within a wider context within Wales, the UK and Europe as part of the struggle for democracy and equal rights which is ongoing snd remains relevant  today as our democracy continues to evolve. 

1839 rather than 2018
The well organised and well attended events of the last weekend, fully supported by Newport City Council, contracts starkly with the underhand destruction of the popular Chartist mural, off John Frost Square (in Newport) on Thursday 3rd October 2013 which robbed many Newport residents of part of their personal and cultural history. 

I (personally, and no doubt many others) have fond memories of walking past the mural as children (in may case with my grandmother) and being fascinated by it. Now its gone, merely a memory, reduced to rubble on the (relative) quiet by the Labour Party in Newport, which was anxious to avoid embarrassing scenes as a demo to protest the destruction of the then proposed of the mural was in the offing.

The wining pathetic excuses bleated by Labour in Newport and their persistent refusal to engage and find a way to save the mural just about sums up the way the town of Newport has been treated over the years. Few people are against development or redevelopment but it needs to be sustainable and sympathetic to the needs of the city. The failure to work with local indigenous small businesses in and around Newport is a reality that has done great economic damage to the local economy and weakened our economy.

Gone but not forgotten
Friars Walk was welcomed, but, its struggling and it seems to have sucked the commercial live out of other parts of the town. We have to do something different, the new shopping centre, has promised much but the jurying still out on whether it will deliver much of lasting benefit, in a similar manner to the Kingsway Shopping Centre (back in the 1970's). 

Any shopping development should contain retail opportunities for small local businesses as money spent in local businesses circulates three times as long as money spent in 'UK national chains. Simply filling the development with chains means that what local money is spent will get hoovered up and vanished out of town as rapidly as possible. 

Various attempts to develop or redevelop Newport over the years, largely via the questionable vehicle of Newport Unlimited (more like 'Newport limited') have failed to deliver lasting economic growth. Local council cuts which continue to undermine local services have not helped, but, neither has a complete lack of vision and the contempt which has been demonstrated for the cities inhabitants today over the years.

If we are serious about redevelopment in Newport - then something needs to be done about the longtime empty near derelict Westgate Hotel in the heart of Newport. The former objective of the Chartists should be resurrected and redeveloped as a world class Chartists heritage centre - for both visitors to our city and the also for the rest of us.

Keywords: The Newport Rising, The Chartists,