15/03/2012 Dragon's Eye


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Plaid has a new leader. What are the challenges she faces in shaping


the future of the party? This is they were distracted by the


Cheltenham Festival. Nevertheless, the Wood campaign ran a clever race


which saw her romp home this afternoon. We'll hear from her in a


moment, but first Brian Meechan has been looking at the challenges the


It was hardly a photo-finish in the three-horse race for the Plaid


leadership. Leanne Wood has held a centre-left seat for the party


since 2003. In that time, she has built a reputation as a tireless


campaigner on a range of issues. Plaid Cymru members will get the


first into their new leader in action when they meet for the


conference at the end of this month. One former Plaid Cymru leader


offered this advice. Obviously every political party has discrete


elements within it. Some agree wholeheartedly with the party's


mainstream policy, and some with their individual aspirations. Any


leader has to bridge these different strands within the party


to make everyone feel they are part of a team and to ensure that they


maximise the delivery of what is best for Wales. There is also


advice from Plaid Cymru's Caernarfon stronghold. We need to


create a new political hinterland, to represent the party in all parts


of Wales and reach out to people in Wales and get them feeling that we


now have a party we can relate to and a party who we can feel part of


and who want to represent our best interests. That is a huge challenge.


John Paul stood for plied -- Plaid in 2001. He left the party after


falling out of his leadership and is now running his own business


after retiring from his job as an economics lecturer. There are two


issues here. The party has suffered from very poor leadership, and it


doesn't know why it exists any more. Whether you agree with Plaid Cymru


or not, any organisation has an objective and a purpose, and there


is no question in my mind that Plaid Cymru has lost its way. And


that is as a consequence of a very poor leadership. Plaid Cymru lost


this constituency in the last election to Labour. The new leader


will have to address the poor electoral form. One of the reasons


we lost from Netley is because people were afraid. That was the


only message people could hear, they were so frightened of the


Tories, and we lost our votes. We want to say to people here and


right across the valleys, come with us, we have an exciting journey our


country, and we can build the economy that we need and build a


fairer for society. But Leanne Wood doesn't have time to market card


for the race with the council elections in May. It has come a


little early for the new leader to make their mark, but on the other


hand, it is an opportunity to perhaps have a springboard and


ensure that the party does perform well. That is going to be a


challenge, we know, but there is an opportunity there to reach out and


for people to recognise that we are the party who can represent them in


their community and in counties and protect services. The SNP's success


in cost Scotland has led some to say that independence has been seen


as a handicap for too long. A recent poll suggests that only 7%


of people here support Wales leaving the United Kingdom.


Independence is what most people think of Plaid as a party for, but


our message is really about the economy and jobs. Some of us


believe that independence is a way to achieve that. But that is how we


need to achieve that - hour mission is to improve the quality of life


for Wales. When Plaid Cymru rallies here at the end of March, the party


will have to assent that they are led by someone with a clear idea of


where they are going. With May's council elections in sight, there


won't be long. Brian Meechan reporting. Let's


speak to the winner now. Leanne Wood joins us from Cardiff Bay.


Congratulations. Thank you very much. I guess top of your in-tray


at the moment must be reversing the decline that Plaid Cymru has seen


since the first assembly elections. How will you do that? And think we


need to take some time to build up the case for a new type of economy


for Wales, and I think that we can pull together all the best talent


within the party, talent from outside the party, to put together


a strong plan to turn around the world economy. That has got to be


Plaid Cymru's priority now. Far too many people are suffering from the


economic recession. People are concerned about lack of jobs, youth


unemployment and so on, and people's financial situations are


very difficult. So I think that I would like to ensure that everybody


comes together in the party now and works on putting together this


long-term economic plan. He said in your acceptance speech that you're


going to make the case for a real independence. Isn't that what Plaid


Cymru has been doing since it was formed in 1925? What we do now that


is so different? I would argue that we haven't put the case for


independence as yet, and that is why such small numbers of people in


polls supported. But what is encouraging about recent polls is


that two-thirds of people now want to see the financial levers


devolved to Wales so that we can sort out our economic problems. So


there is a huge task to do in turning around our economy. Figures


out this week show that West Wales and the valleys is in decline.


what can you offer in terms of practical policies to give people


jobs? That is what people are most concerned about at the moment. What


you have to offer them? Viewers can log-on to my website to and they


will find there a raft... What are the concrete policies? There is a


raft Of concrete policies on that website for creating jobs, for


example in the green energy sector. If we had a plan to retrofit homes


for energy efficiency, we could create jobs that way. What we need


in Wales is the equivalent of a 1930s style at USA New Deal.


Austerity isn't working in any country in Europe, and it certainly


isn't working for Wales. Our situation is dire and getting worse.


So at a time when the country is almost skinned, you are saying,


let's spend more money? I am, yes. In the 1930s, during the Depression


and the United States, there wasn't cash around there either, but a job


creation plan was proposed, and that is what turned the situation


around, and that is what we have to do in Wales. The latest GDP figures


that came out this week, we can say the GDP may not be the same measure


of -- the best measure, but they were very worrying figures. Despite


billions of pounds of aid, the Welsh economy is continuing to


decline. We have to sort that out, and that will be my priority as


leader of Plaid Cymru. You say that you want to target the valleys, but


Plaid Cymru need to pick up votes in the South Wales valleys, but


surely they had a chance back in 1999 when you got a member in


Rhondda, but the voters turned back to Labour. What will change now?


What happened in 1999 was interesting, and it shows that


Plaid Cymru can make gains in areas that we don't hold them. There are


areas where Plaid Cymru needs to get representation, and they think


this is where our message on the economy and to build up our local


communities is one that can reach out, and I have got a message for


people in Wales today - join with us. Join Plaid Cymru today to help


us build your community, help us build our economy and a stronger


Wales. Go online to the Plaid Cymru website and joined tonight! Very


quickly if we can, in terms of ruling out a coalition with the


Conservatives, as you have done, in terms of aiming for Labour's vote,


as you have just done, when are you ever going to get into government?


We have to have ambition for Plaid Cymru in the same way as we have to


have ambition for Wales. I want to see Plaid Cymru become the biggest


party in the National Assembly, and under my leadership, we will be


working towards that aim. Leanne Wood, thank you very much for


joining us. We'll have more on Leanne Woods' victory when our


Welsh Affairs Editor, Vaughan Roderick, joins me later in the


programme. Official figures from the European


Commission have confirmed what Dragon's Eye exclusively revealed


last October - huge parts of Wales are continuing to get poorer in


comparison to the rest of Europe despite receiving billions of


pounds of aid aimed at boosting their economies. The latest figures


show that the measure of economic productivity, GDP, has dropped to


68.4% of the European average. Alun Davies is the Welsh Minister


responsible for European Programmes. I asked him whether he was


disappointed with the latest figures. I think everybody wants


Wales to succeed. I represent a constituency in the valleys, I was


born and brought up in that region. I want to see economic growth


creating prosperity there and across the whole of Wales. We all


recognise where we are today, and we are not surprised by where we


are but disappointed. What we need to do now is move forward. What has


been this morning doing was working with different people, planning


ahead to look at what we can do to invest in economic growth in Wales


between now and 2020. But what has gone wrong? The trend is very


disappointing. 79% of GDP in the Nineties has gone down to 68% now.


What has happened? We are broadly trending along with other parts of


the United Kingdom and the European Union. There is nothing surprising


in these figures. We have just been through an economic storm. It is


not surprising that a fragile economy such as West Wales and the


valleys will be disproportionately hit. The important thing to


recognise is that when you look at these figures, we were in steep


decline as an economy into the 1990s and up to the turn of the


century. We have arrested the decline at the moment, and what we


need... To the decline here is carrying on, and had started before


the global recession hit. Those figures that we are discussing


today are from 20th nine, -- 2009. If you look at the story of the


last decade, you will see that West Wales and the valleys, the Welsh


economy, was broadly following you -- UK and European trains. You can


see some indicators that we were narrowing that gap. Most people in


my constituency don't worry about GP, but they do worry about


household income. With respect... With respect, the European


Commission looks at GDP. The funding has arrived by GDP. �6


billion of money in total since the year 2000, and things are getting


worse. That has to be a problem somewhere, and if we don't accept


there is a problem, where will the answer come from? If you look at


what the European commissioner said when they gave evidence, they


described the actions of the Welsh government as being exemplary.


how can decline be exemplary? are talking about the investments


we have been making, and that is what the European Commission said.


I meet European Commission and Council ministers fairly regularly.


What we are seeing is investment in As somebody who was born and


brought up here, we have seen a relative decline from the 1920s


until the end of the century. What we are trying to do his arrest that


decline. That is the point, it is not happening. That is the problem.


If you measure output figures, and if you look at what those figures


are measuring, they are not measuring wealth but output, you


will see that we are broadly tracking with other parts of the


European Union. What we need to do is invest so that we can outstrip


other parts of the European Union and create prospects for everybody


in this can true. Thank you very much. Now, how structural funds


have been spent in Wales and the valleys with Andrew Crawley of


Cardiff Business School and Owain Davies who runs a manufacturing


business in Carmarthenshire and is a council member of the business


body, CBI Wales. And Drew, looking at these rather depressing set of


figures, what would you say has gone wrong? It is difficult to put


up the full tat one body -- it is difficult but the fault on one body.


GDP per head, the measure the European uses, does not count the


value added element within any of these transfers, is that if you


work in Cardiff, your GDP is not counted in the area where you live.


So that has to be put in these figures. The over all performance


has been disappointing, saying that. We have received two tranches of


European funding, and you could question the effectiveness of the


policies put in place to help spend those. You could question the


procedures that we have, how you actually apply for these funds, a


have been effective. Can you give us an example of the kind of thing


that has gone wrong? Quarters a concrete example of something that


ought to have been improving? -- can you give us? Some of the


capital projects, the way in which the funds are administered is very


strict, so you have to spend it with in particular areas. There is


a lack of co-ordination between bodies at the start of programmes


over organising where the funds will be spent. They run for a long


period of time so all these bodies must come together to co-ordinate


where the funding should be administered. So instead of


applying for small pots of cash, you are applying for large projects.


There were few and far between. There were some examples in higher


education, but there were not any links with businesses. Small


business and large business needs to be working with private or


organisations. You have done a bit of work looking at how businesses,


the private sector, interacts with European funding. What has been


your experience? The private sector has not interacted far enough. I


have been involved with the process from the early stages. I am


disillusioned with the process and amount of money wasted rather than


spend on delivery. We have been reluctant to engage because it is


bureaucratic. The Welsh government has missed a trick by making sure


everything has been filtered through so the private sector can


deliver. The private sector and the business sector can improve the


economy. The public sector cannot. The way to deliver and improve his


to make sure that Wales is a place to do business. What business


people want is a nice environment with good infrastructure. I do not


necessarily mean rails and road, but people with the right skills


and education, and opportunity for businesses to invest in Wales. That


is not there and we have missed a trick. And to be entitled to


another third tranche is a disgrace and we Ashford -- we should be


ashamed. What can government to? Government is bureaucratic,


European government. What could they do? What we need to do is to


insure the people in the decision- making process understand what our


roles and guides. What we are getting too hung up about is the


rules that Brussels imposes. We need to look at the needs of Wales


and find a process to get money out of Europe to deliver on the needs,


not worry we have got �1.5 billion to spend and where we should spend


it on. That is the cart before the horse. We have got to make sure


needs are evaluated and then the funds are put in place to improve


and deliver a. You seem to be nodding in agreement. Is that


roughly what you are thinking? Does it need to be flexible? Flexibility


is tough, but it is possible. I think it is about pulling together


all organisations, so private organisations large and small,


communicating with the government what their needs are now. We will


qualify for a third tranche. We can question that, but we now need to


say that we need to use this in a more effective way. It is about


getting keep people's voices. Large organisations and small businesses


need to tell us what they need to make economy working better.


Linking these things together, unfortunately, you have seen


different organisations going off at different tantrums, and we need


the whole picture combined and getting the private sector involved


is keen. I imagine we will be coming back to this of -- in the


future, but for the time being, thank you.


What next for Remploy workers? Last week, we reported that nearly 300


employees found out their jobs were at risk, after the UK government


pulled the funding from seven of the nine factories located here.


It's a difficult time, as you can imagine, but Dragon's Eye has


learnt that the Welsh Government is hoping to secure new contracts to


make the factories more viable. But will this be enough to save them?


I've been finding out what else there is out there for people with


disabilities looking for work. It has been a tough few weeks for


these Remploy workers. Last week came the announcement none of them


wanted to hear that their factory was going to close with nearly 300


jobs at risk. They took their plight to the Senedd after the


Welsh government said they might consider stepping in to help out


but after the UK Government refused to give the Welsh government the


share of the money, that is now more difficult. I think they have


started with the decision they wanted to close these factories,


and to reduce the subsidy, and I don't think they understand what is


going on in these factors. The UK Government says they will talk to


anybody who wants to help out with the Remploy factories and to


millions of pounds will be available. The big question now is,


what next? The Welsh government told us today they are hopeful of


finding more work for Remploy factories. Tomorrow, the council


will be signing a contract in the 4th Remploy factory and other


councils are looking to give support to Remploy factories in


their areas and North Wales in Wrexham, that is the case. We have


a number of opportunities within the Welsh public sector, the


Assembly government has been able to award contracts as well. We have


got to continue to do what we can to make sure there is a supply of


work to these factories and I am pleased with the expressions of


interest we have had, some from people in the private sector,


others from major social enterprises like registered social


landlords who believe there is a future for Remploy factories.


Despite what has been done, does there need to be more of a push


from the public sector in Wales to put business Remploy's way? There


is more we can do. We can co- ordinate procurement on a national


basis in Wales and reserve contracts for Remploy factories.


However, it is easier if we know there is a continuing life for the


Remploy factories to encourage businesses and public sector bodies


to procure work from those factories. Of course, Remploy


workers have seen this before in 2007. The Labour UK government


closed many Remploy factories including the swan neck Cardiff.


The experiences of those workers might hold a clue as to what is


going to happen. Steve Watts was one of the luckier ones to lose his


job. A line manager with Remploy, he found some work, but nothing


permanent, so he took redundancy and has ploughed his money into a


new company. Tomorrow, he will sign a lease on this new workshop.


cannot wait to go. Hopefully, we will help people. We are hoping


eventually we will be able to be on the scale of Remploy and be able to


employ 90 people. Those things take their time. I am glad to help the


people of Remploy. There are places that are going to be geared up to


help them. His brother will work part-time at the new company. He


will a pulsed and the cycle furniture. The game will be to


employ as many former Remploy workers as possible. I will come in


and help as much as I can. And if I don't feel well, a day, a couple of


weeks, months, there will be no pressure. As long as you are OK,


they can wait. Since Remploy finished, there has been nothing.


Other than this enterprise, opportunities for former Remploy


workers are few and far between. The climate at the moment is


challenging. What we are finding is that the number of applications per


vacancy has increased, you know, significantly over the last few


years, which makes it even more challenging with somebody -- for


somebody with a disability to axe the his employment. Zoe is at


school and is looking for work. She is doing work experience here to


beef up her CV. Why do you have a job? Because it gets me out of the


house. She enjoys her job but those that are about to lose their jobs


at PGG Tour say they prefer not to work in mainstream employment.


and I would say the main thing. -- the same thing. It is about


reintroducing somebody to a new environment and supporting them


because what we wouldn't do is help them find the right job and leave


them. We provide support so we can do intensive job culture to help


them get used to the job. Whether or not mainstream jobs can be found


for these Remploy workers, many would prefer to remain in their


factories. Whether or not new contracts can make them viable


remains to be seen. Vaughan Roderick is our Welsh


Affairs Editor. Leanne Wood, the new leader for


Plaid. How much of a break with the past is it? A major break. It


demolishes a few myths about Plaid members. A lot of people said it


would never elect a leader that was not fluent in Welsh. A lot of


people said that grassroots members were fairly conservative. That


doesn't seem to be the case. I think there are a lot of people in


rural Wales that are left wing. It shatters a few myths about Plaid


but it is a big change for an open left-wing candidate to be elected


party leader. Looking at how the other parties will react, she can


expect a lot more scrutiny as a leader. That's right. Although she


has been at the Assembly affair while, she doesn't look that


certain on her feet. The other parties will try to test it in the


chamber. Now, it is very easy for the Conservatives and the Lib Dems


because what they will do is paint her as a politician who is out of


the mainstream, a politician that is on the far left. More difficult


for Labour. They will have a new wins job because they will not want


to be seen to be attacking Leanne Wood from the right. That would go


down badly with their constituents. The other parties will put the heat


on her within the next done few weeks. She will have a torrid time


because they sense their weakness is their. They have seen a steady


decline since the Assembly. What will she have to do in order to


turn that around? Are what is interesting is the fact that she


won the leadership so easily is what she is not that great in the


chamber, she is very good at retell politics. She is good at face-to-


face politics. She is good at meeting people. It may well be that


the tactic for Plaid will be not to bother about what goes on in


Cardiff Bay, but to get their leader out there campaigning. That


Join Felicity Evans as she takes a fresh look at politics through the Dragon's Eye.

Whether it is your local council, the National Assembly, Westminster or Europe, Dragon's Eye will be probing, scrutinising and shedding light on our democratic institutions.

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