15/03/2012 Dragon's Eye


15/03/2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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offered this advice. Obviously every political party has discrete

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

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mainstream policy, and some with their individual aspirations. Any

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leader has to bridge these different strands within the party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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of people here support Wales leaving the United Kingdom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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polls supported. But what is encouraging about recent polls is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What happened in 1999 was interesting, and it shows that

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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programme. Official figures from the European

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Commission have confirmed what Dragon's Eye exclusively revealed

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

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comparison to the rest of Europe despite receiving billions of

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

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

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

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responsible for European Programmes. I asked him whether he was

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disappointed with the latest figures. I think everybody wants

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

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

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

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

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

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been this morning doing was working with different people, planning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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valleys will be disproportionately hit. The important thing to

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

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

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

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

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the global recession hit. Those figures that we are discussing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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what the European commissioner said when they gave evidence, they

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described the actions of the Welsh government as being exemplary.

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how can decline be exemplary? are talking about the investments

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

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I meet European Commission and Council ministers fairly regularly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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other parts of the European Union and create prospects for everybody

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

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

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Cardiff Business School and Owain Davies who runs a manufacturing

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business in Carmarthenshire and is a council member of the business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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European funding, and you could question the effectiveness of the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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where the funding should be administered. So instead of

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

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

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

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business and large business needs to be working with private or

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

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

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

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

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disillusioned with the process and amount of money wasted rather than

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

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

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everything has been filtered through so the private sector can

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ashamed. What can government to? Government is bureaucratic,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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all organisations, so private organisations large and small,

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

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

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

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

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

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Linking these things together, unfortunately, you have seen

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different organisations going off at different tantrums, and we need

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the whole picture combined and getting the private sector involved

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

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future, but for the time being, thank you.

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

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

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

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

:20:29.:20:32.

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

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

:20:35.:20:38.

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

:20:38.:20:45.

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

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

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

:20:53.:20:58.

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

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Welsh government said they might consider stepping in to help out

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

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

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started with the decision they wanted to close these factories,

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

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

:21:24.:21:27.

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

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

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

:21:37.:21:43.

finding more work for Remploy factories. Tomorrow, the council

:21:43.:21:47.

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

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councils are looking to give support to Remploy factories in

:21:53.:21:58.

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

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a number of opportunities within the Welsh public sector, the

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

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

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

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

:22:19.:22:21.

others from major social enterprises like registered social

:22:21.:22:27.

landlords who believe there is a future for Remploy factories.

:22:27.:22:32.

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

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

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

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basis in Wales and reserve contracts for Remploy factories.

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

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Remploy factories to encourage businesses and public sector bodies

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to procure work from those factories. Of course, Remploy

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

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closed many Remploy factories including the swan neck Cardiff.

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

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

:23:30.:23:36.

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

:23:36.:23:39.

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

:23:39.:23:44.

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

:23:44.:23:54.
:23:54.:23:54.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:24:33.:24:43.
:24:43.:24:43.

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

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

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Other than this enterprise, opportunities for former Remploy

:24:52.:24:58.

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

:24:58.:25:04.

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

:25:04.:25:09.

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

:25:09.:25:13.

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

:25:13.:25:17.

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

:25:17.:25:23.

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

:25:23.:25:31.

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

:25:31.:25:38.

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

:25:38.:25:43.

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

:25:43.:25:48.

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

:25:48.:25:52.

reintroducing somebody to a new environment and supporting them

:25:52.:25:56.

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

:25:56.:26:02.

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

:26:02.:26:07.

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

:26:07.:26:11.

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

:26:11.:26:15.

factories. Whether or not new contracts can make them viable

:26:15.:26:18.

remains to be seen. Vaughan Roderick is our Welsh

:26:18.:26:25.

Affairs Editor. Leanne Wood, the new leader for

:26:25.:26:31.

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

:26:31.:26:35.

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

:26:35.:26:40.

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

:26:40.:26:45.

people said that grassroots members were fairly conservative. That

:26:46.:26:55.
:26:56.:26:56.

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

:26:56.:27:00.

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

:27:00.:27:04.

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

:27:04.:27:10.

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

:27:10.:27:17.

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

:27:17.:27:21.

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

:27:21.:27:25.

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

:27:25.:27:30.

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

:27:30.:27:34.

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

:27:34.:27:38.

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

:27:38.:27:44.

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

:27:44.:27:47.

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

:27:47.:27:52.

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

:27:52.:27:57.

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

:27:57.:28:02.

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

:28:02.:28:06.

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

:28:06.:28:10.

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

:28:10.:28:14.

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

:28:14.:28:19.

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

:28:19.:28:25.

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

:28:25.:28:29.

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

:28:29.:28:34.

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

:28:34.:28:39.

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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