WHY PLAID CYMRU?

20/03/2014

People ask from time to time, ‘What is Plaid Cymru for?’ More often than not, it’s ‘staunchly Welsh’ people who ask the question. In the Assembly on Tuesday evening – with hardly anyone listening or taking any notice, we had some answers to the question.

It was a long session as we tried, after three sittings and hundreds of amendments, to put the Social Services and Welfare (Wales) Bill to bed. It was a mammoth, untidy Bill. But Plaid Cymru was able, through perseverance, to secure crucial mprovements.

Firstly, after an energetic campaign, Lindsay Whittle managed to give young people in care the opportunity to stay with their families until the age of 21 rather than leaving them at the mercy of the state when they reach 18. This is a big and important step for vulnerable young people.

Secondly, Elin Jones secured an amendment that would force authorities to consider the Welsh language when providing services. It’s a shame that this is necessary, but at least it’s another weapon for service users.

Finally, Jocelyn Davies was able to ensure that carers get enough time when visiting clients to complete their tasks properly. This was not perfect as a condition but an improvement on the present situation.

Another amendment from Jocelyn failed to put an end to zero hours contracts for carers. These are the contracts that tie carers to carer companies without a guarantee of any working hours at all, leading to low wages, unfairness and bitterness among the workers. The Labour Party – yes, the Labour Party – joined forces with the Tories to reject the amendment. And not one trade union has contacted Jocelyn to support her amendment although Milliband and the TUC have ranted against the practice regularly in the press.

That’s Plaid Cymru doing the spadework, supporting the rights of Welsh speakers, supporting fair conditions for workers and protecting service standards. And that’s the party on Gwynedd Council that last week scrapped the two lower rates of workers’ wages. And that’s the party to which I’m proud to belong.