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Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Welsh Labour-Plaid Cymru agreement is a nationalist stitch-up

The vagaries of proportional representation mean that single party government is rarely possible. The devolved administrations of the UK were set up under a PR system principally with the aim of preventing nationalists committed to the break-up of the UK ever taking control in Scotland or Wales.

This device failed spectacularly in the former when the SNP formed a majority administration in 2011 though it is now a minority government backed by the Greens. In Wales, Labour and Plaid Cymru have negotiated a “co-operation agreement” for the next three years, though it still needs to be ratified by the nationalists at their conference this weekend.

With 30 seats in the 60-strong Senedd, Labour was one short of an overall majority but intended to govern alone. However, Mark Drakeford, the party leader, said a formal arrangement provided stability. The deal extends free meals to all primary school pupils, expands free childcare and proposes changes to council tax and social care. It also pledges ‘‘immediate and radical action” to tackle the number of second homes in Wales through the planning, property and taxation regimes.

These include a cap on the number of second and holiday homes; measures to bring more homes into common ownership; a statutory licensing scheme for holiday lets; greater powers for local authorities to charge council tax premiums and increasing taxes on second homes. The agreement is essentially the enactment of a socialist/nationalist agenda for which the Welsh people did not vote. It would be hard to imagine a programme more designed to scare investment away from the Principality and damage its growth prospects.

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