CymruX Intern and Guest Blogger, Iago ap Steffan writes:
It beggers belief that the Liberal Democrats not so long ago were accusing Plaid Cymru of failing students in regards to top-fees. They were out with their flyers around Aberystwyth, where I study, stating that Plaid was going against their word and introducing student fees. Now we all know that Plaid Cymru are still against tuition fees and believe that eduction should be free at point of need. The fees that have been introduced are for better off students, while getting rid of fees altogether for poorer students; in fact giving an extra £35million to the scheme.
What amazes me is the campaign against Plaid by the Lib Dems and insisting that they would never think about introducing top-up fees in universities. Well it very much surprised me that last weekend at the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth there were talks of ending their policy on scrapping tuition fees. Now we all know that the Lib Dems are not going to be in a position where they lead a national government, but at least we know what their true plans are. Plaid's aim is clear, we oppose tuition fees and will carry on fighting this issue right through to the end.
Not only have the Lib Dems are starting to talk about tuition fees, we also have the CBI stating that students should be paying at least £5,000 a year, while taking out commercial loans instead of the Student Loan and also scrapping grants. This would mean that those who come from poorer backgrounds will be denied university education and many others will be scared of leaving university with even greater debt. What is really insulting is the fact that most of the people who represent the CBI and Liberal Democrats didn't have to pay for their university tuition. CymruX will carry on fighting against students paying this expensive tax.
A ddylai pobl ifanc 16 oed allu pleidleisio mewn refferendwm ar annibyniaeth i’r Alban? Ar ôl i Aileen Campbell MSP yrru llyhtyr i Mike Russell sef y gweinidog sy’n gyfrifol am faterion cyfansoddiadol yn llywodraeth y wlad, fe wnaeth ddatganiad o blaid gostwng oed pleileisio ar annibynniaeth i 16 oed. Gobaith llywodraeth leiafrifol yr SNP yw cynnal refferendwm ar annibyniaeth y flwyddyn nesaf - ond fe fydd arnyn nhw angen cefnogaeth gan bleidiau eraill cyn gallu gwneud hyn.
Mae deddfwriaeth a gafodd ei basio’n gynharach eleni am alluogi pobl ifanc 16 ac 17 oed i bleidleisio mewn dau etholiad peilot ar gyfer byrddau iechyd Dumfries a Galloway a Fife.
Tynodd Aileen Campbell sylw i’r ffaith bod pobol ifanc 16 oed yn talu treth, yn gallu gwasanaethu yn y lluoedd arfog ac yn gallu priodi ac felly pam na ddylsant gael yr hawl i bleidleisio am eu dyfodol?
“They deserve the right to have their say on the future of the nation.”
Mae’r SNP yn sylweddoli pwysigrwydd gwneud yn siwr bod pobol ifanc yn ymwneud ac yn fwy na dim yn rhan o wleidyddiaeth. Mae gwleidyddiaeth yn gyffredinol yn tueddu i fod yn amherthnasol ac wedi gelyniaethu pobol ifanc. Mae’n bryd cymeryd camau cadarnhaol tuag at ail gynnwys a chysylltu pobol ifanc i’w dyfodol trwy wleidyddiaeth. Beth bynnag fydd canlyniad y refferendwm mi fydd y penderfyniad yn effeithio ar y bobol ifanc ac felly tydi hi ddim ond yn deg eu bod yn cael rhoi pleidlais.
Plaid's Conference has become a big talking point on the blogs, and we can thankfully report that Cymru X had a good conference as well. We are extremely grateful to Plaid's wonderful Chief Exec Gwenllian Lansdown and the Ty Gwynfor staff for supporting Cymru X and placing us at the heart of conference as always. Being given the opportunity to work with our leading politicians and to support their speeches is not something we take for granted.
Cymru X turnout was very strong with dozens of our members and supporters in attendance. We held a fringe meeting with Gwenllian as guest speaker, and talked about ideas of building our manifesto for the future. An animated discussion ensued in which the key issues for young people included affordable housing, public transport and the minimum wage. We will be asking our members to think about these issues, building upon the contents of our policy consultation document 'More Than Politics' (we distributed the first of these at conference and they look fab!).
We also had a stall throughout the weekend, linking up with several new young members who were visiting Plaid Conf for the first time. Another highlight was the 'Have I Got News for Plaid' social event which we co-hosted with Plaid Aberconwy. It's quickly becoming a legendary night and thanks to the participants, Cai Jones and Dyfan Powel for writing the script, and Cllr Steffan Wiliam for presenting.
Hopefully we are now armed with the ideas and enthusiasm we need to change Wales at the next election!
Cymru X has recently gone through the process of preparing a policy document, which we will distribute across Wales and hopefully start some good debate about how young people can move this country forward. In writing the document we had to research the policies of other parties. As far as we could learn, no other youth movement in Wales has a proper manifesto or set of policies, so we are breaking ground there. But of the mainstream parties that could actually wield power, the Tories are unsurprisingly still hawking a set of divisive and elitist policies at both national and UK level. Scratch the surface and there is alot we can disagree with and that we need to expose as the likelihood of a UK Tory government draws nearer. This series of blog posts will hopefully shine a light on what is lurking beneath the veneer of Tory dynamism, as well as providing a regular moment of gratitude for even the limited devolution settlement we have right now.
The Tories are all about spin and 'modernisation' at the moment, but what of the substance? What kind of beast are we facing?
Firstly, the Tories have, like sheep, supported all of the worst excesses of the New Labour administrations at Westminster. Their one good position- scrapping ID cards, is obscured by a symbiosis with New Labour over their blatant support for both the failed conquests Afghanistan and Iraq, renewing Trident at a cost of billions, privatising chunks of the welfare system, slashing the amount of money given to the devolved administrations, promoting elitist academies, foundation hospitals, and a trimmed down public sector that won't be able to help any of our vulernable people and will struggle to actually run the government.
The Tories have consistently supported a public services agenda which prioritises 'choice' as its key aim. So if you can't afford to choose which hospital to go to you can basically get stuffed under the Tory agenda. For most people in society the most important thing about health services is that they are free at the point of use. The Tory appeal is to a smaller but influential layer of people who are able to pay to go to a different hospital than their local one, to make an unpleasant choice to avoid 'dodgy' hospitals who would, under Tory plans, be penalised rather than helped if they are not meeting standards. To top it off, nutters from the fringes of the Conservative party are currently touring the USA trying to undermine the NHS, which is actually the most popular social institution in the UK and was invented by a Welshman.
With education, they want to let (direct quote from their policy site) "charities, livery companies, existing school federations, not-for-profit trusts, co-operatives and groups of parents to set up new schools in the state sector". This is simply unacceptable. How could such organisations have the structural discipline and ethos to stick to the National Curriculum? Which 'groups of parents' do you think will be able to set up new schools? Rich ones of course! Under such a system the tried-and-tested comprehensive school will be at risk of being left behind. Thank goodness for devolution- which they still won't commit to fully supporting. Do you see why?
In our next installment of 'the Vile Tory Menace' i'll look at their 'social justice' policies and what they would mean for Wales.
Brilliant, it’s conference season again! This year we’re decamping en masse up to north Wales to visit a town called Llandudno, famous for her ‘Ormes’, her pier and her donkey rides. However, from September 10-12 2009, the focus will be less on our four-legged friends and (slightly) more on the eminent politicians and members of Plaid Cymru, who ride into town ready for three days of workshops, speeches, motions, networking, fringes - and let’s face it, a bloody good night out!
CymruX will be present and correct with a stall, speakers on motions (although there’s still time to get involved, let us know if you’d like some help) and of course, our exciting fringe event
Fringe Event - Annual Conference 2009
"More Than Politics – Developing a Manifesto for the Future"
CymruX, Friday 11 September, 4.30pm
In the run up to the 2010 Westminster campaign, CymruX will be talking about our ambitions for next year. Gwenllian Lansdown, Chief Executive of Plaid Cymru, will be present to speak about “Think Different. Think Plaid”, the new slogan for a new era of Welsh politics, and we will be running a workshop on developing national and local youth manifestos and party policy. In addition, we will be launching “Future Photo Ops”, the new conference game for our most mischievous members (with intoxicating prizes!).
All this and refreshments, including delicious chocolate brownies ... where will you be?!
In the company of friends, we can afford to be a bit more willing to speak honestly about politics. Many times I have felt slightly embarrassed talking with other young people about politics – how many of your friends dismiss any mention of politics as ‘all the same’, ‘rubbish’ and ‘doesn’t matter who I vote for’? You just clam up and just not really argue back, despite what you think.
I still feel a bit weird when my football team see me out delivering leaflets before a game, no one is immune from ribbing from peers, they take great pleasure in taking the proverbial. Bear in mind these guys think I am Albert Einstein because I bring The Guardian and not The Star to football.
But what I have found is that by not being embarrassed, not trying to hide it and being positive about politics, you will be surprised the head way you can make. Previously I would shy away from talking about my politics with peers, largely because I could not communicate the weighty political books I would read into the everyday language I use with my friends. But joining Plaid provides you with many reasons to raise discussions and not hide your politics.
My friends couldn’t tell you who Gwynfor Evans is, or indeed Adam Price, but you get them onto a conversation about a Welsh sporting team and you see a sense of national pride spew out of them. You see a belief that we can stand on our own two feet in any context, that Wales is a unique and distinct place which has common culture. That might be the drink talking with some of them, but ultimately you sense those guys were onside with the notion of Wales being a proper nation. Why should it not be? Given the way we play on a sports field.
Don’t get me wrong, this was very much baby steps, they still think politics is full of liars and con artists, but there is always ways to get people to give their views on political issues without resorting to politics.
Next week it will be the new Welsh Medium school they are opening in Griffithstown next year…wish me luck.