What practical difference would a Plaid Cymru MP like Mike Parker make in Ceredigion? Firstly there's the massive anti-austerity message that a Plaid Cymru win would send out, together with the increasing likelihood of having a key influence in a hung parliament alongside the SNP. But for anyone interested in policies and values, one of the best way to judge is to look at how our current Lib Dem MP has been voting at Westminster.
Below are listed some of the ways he’s been voting, as recorded on the website ‘They Work for You', where a Plaid Cymru MP would differ markedly. I must admit I’m quite shocked at some of the voting patterns.
Because some votes are complex or multi-layered, the website uses a scoring mechanism to judge on whether the MP has voted 'moderately', 'strongly' or 'very strongly' on each particular issue. These are all quotes from the website. My comments are in brackets.
Welfare and Benefits
Voted moderately for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits (Disappointing) Voted moderately for reducing housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms
(i.e. the ‘Bedroom Tax’ - very disappointing to see this) Voted strongly against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed (I'm really surprised by this)
Voted moderately for laws to promote equality and human rights
Taxation and Employment
Voted moderately against a banker’s bonus tax
Voted strongly against restricting the provision of services to private patients by the NHS.
(Thereby accepting the increasing privatisation of the health service - Plaid Cymru are committed to opposing this)
Voted very strongly for ending financial support for some 16-19 year olds in training and further education
Voted strongly for reducing central government funding of local government (And then blames local councils for cuts to services?) Voted moderately against a more proportional system for electing MPs.
(i.e. failed to back Caroline Lucas’s enlightened motion to broaden the debate on proportional representation, even though PR is supposed to be a key Lib Dem policy. The loss of this motion was then followed by the disastrous AV referendum in 2011 in which the Lib Dem’s choice was heavily defeated).
Voted moderately for greater restrictions on campaigning by third parties, such as charities, during elections.
(Generally seen as a measure aimed at restricting debate - surprising)
Voted a mixture of for and against transferring more powers to the Welsh Assembly.
Voted moderately against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament.
Voted moderately against more powers for local councils.
(Looking at the last three together, there’s not much commitment to decentralisation going on there...)
(Has proved to be hugely unpopular - Plaid will vote to abolish)
Voted moderately for requiring the mass retention of information about communications
(Basic Lib Dem tenets seem to be going out of the window here)
Voted moderately against greater regulation of gambling
Voted moderately for financial incentives for low-carbon emission electricity generation methods. (Only moderately?)
Voted moderately for measures to prevent climate change
Voted strongly against slowing the rise in rail fares
Has never voted on selling England’s state owned forests
(Shame) Voted moderately for restricting the scope of Legal Aid (Disappointing)
Voted a mixture of for and against the privatisation of Royal Mail
Voted moderately for the policies included in the 2010 Conservative-Lib Dem Agreement.
(And there lies the nub of the problem)
Put together, this list is pretty damning, and it certainly doesn't represent the wishes of the people of Ceredigion.
I don’t know which votes were whipped or how strongly (’The Tories/Nick Clegg made me do it’?) but, with the Lib Dems refusing to rule out another coalition with the Conservatives, and Plaid Cymru's Leader Leanne Woodexplicitly ruling out any co-operation with them at all, it’s clear where people of any kind of green or left persuasion should not be placing their vote on May 7th.
On the other hand, Plaid Cymru's manifesto is here. If you're interested enough in policies to get to the end of this article, it's worth checking out.