Plaid welcomes a Billion Pound Drain from Wales!

According to Adam Price MP the announcement that Swansea and Cardiff will be joined to London by an electric rail link is:

The culmination of more than thirty years of work on Plaid’s part (it became party policy in 1977), dating back to a time even before I joined the party.

Welsh Ramblings sees it as a personal victory for Ieuan Wyn Jones:

Question for the One Wales sceptics - would this have happened if Ieuan Wyn Jones was not Transport Minister?

George Monbiot noted last December that:

The railway map of Wales is a classic indicator of an extractive economy. The lines extend either towards London or towards the ports. As Eduardo Galeano established in The Open Veins of Latin America, the infrastructure of a country is a guide to the purpose of its development. If the main roads and railways form a network, linking the regions and the settlements within the regions, they are likely to have been developed to enhance internal commerce and mobility. If they resemble a series of drainage basins, flowing towards the ports and borders, they are likely to have been built to empty the nation of its wealth for the benefit of another. Like Latin America, Wales is poor because it was so rich. Its abundant natural resources gave rise to an extractive system, designed to leave as little wealth behind as possible.

The electrification project continues the drainage and extractive use of railways in Wales. The electrification project is bad news from a nationalist prospective. It ties Cardiff and Swansea to London, rather than enabling the cities to contribute to Wales as a nation.

Nothing for a nationalist to be proud of. Another proof that Plaid has ditched its Nationalist Credentials!


  1. I think the way that the majority of Plaid's bloggers have embraced this announcement is further evidence of how out of touch the Party has become since forming the One Wales Government with Labour...and that saddens me.

  2. to be honest Awlyn I think your confused. Plaid still are nationalist and support independence. If you think this is a bad think because it links wales to london then you are proposing the ideas that Labour spread which is to suggest that an independent wales would be isolated. There would still be communication between the two which is essential for the economy. Nationalism and independence does not mean, as the unionist parties would have you believe, sepratism and isolation

  3. rhydian fôn24/07/2009, 09:57


    Anon above makes a good point. Wales must trade with England to be succesfully independent, and better communication links will make that happen to a greater degree.

    There is the risk of the drain you speak of. But Swansea already has excellent links to London via Cardiff - 19 minutes faster on a train won't make a world of difference. The bigger risk of a drain is to Cardiff-Swansea along a Norrth-South link. The north west would be particularly hard hit.

  4. sorry MOF but your take on the story is a crock - a good link allows people who've left Wales to come back or maintain links with their home too. It allows us to sell an dtrade too, and since th elink already existed it's hardly going to make hundreds of thousands of people leave th ecountry because they'veknocked 20 minutes off the journey time.
    We do have an exctractive economy. We're also getting our intra-Wales links improved too. What's the problem?
    If the only people who agree with you are the liars from Llais Gwynedd - who in fact have no policies whatsiever and spend their time smearing others - then you're crocked up to the nines on this one.

  5. It seems to me that the electrification will benefit Cardiff and Swansea (if it will benefit anyone). It's hardly going to make a great difference to journey times.
    The point is that Plaid are claiming it as a victory for themselves, when in fact it is a decision made in Westminster. It is also a fact that Wales has been left behind in the upgrading of the rail system, so no great victory for anyone really.
    How is it going to effect those of us living in north Wales? Not at all is the answer to that one, I think.

  6. rhydian fôn24/07/2009, 11:16

    dalesman: the line is in the south-east, yes. That's still a part of Wales, even if it is more prosperous than the north. A £250 million investment is not to be sniffed at, and it is something for which we have called for a long time. The rest of Wales' railway system does need upgrading, yes - nobody is arguing that it doesn't.

    Plaid has MPs in Westminster, and the Welsh Affairs Select Committee. We have called for this for a long time, Why should we not be happy about it?

  7. The Assembly Government will be improving the rail infrastructure west of Swansea in the years up to 2015, so this project will bring large parts of West Wales closer to Cardiff and London.

    I agree that the current rail network is one of an extractive economy. The Assembly Government needs to consider what they might like the Welsh rail network to look like long term. Their biggest problem is that to build such a network would cost many billions and most likely won't be economic.

    However, I would argue that such an expense was worth it if it makes Wales a more joined-up country.

  8. You have to admit there is a Little Britain tinge to Plaid at the moment. Most of them haven't a clue about Europe, nor care. I agree that most Plaid blogs are promoting IWJ. I suppose this electrification is a triumph for him. But their context is too British. They seem to think London is the centre of the world. It is not the answer, it is the problem.

    Fortunately, people like Jill Evans and others who get it have pointed out that we need 21st century east - west links (both north and south) to both Ireland and the mainland. I think she said by-passing London. This is not just a Welsh thing. Northern Ireland, Scotland and North England would also benefit avoiding the Great Wen. It is just that Plaid's mini-Brits do not seem to see that. I suppose they have become culturally subservient. After all, the British establishment is working on them all the time. That has become much easier since the Assembly. That close, they can identify and target people's foibles. They also have to keep in to get / retain jobs in the Cardiff Bay bubble, especially in the Labour-run "voluntary" sector.

    For example, I'll pick on Ryan's remarks. "West Wales": an English concept; "closer to London": so what? I would rather Paris or Brussels. Another example: I don't think Plaid has made a single comment on the decline in teaching other European languages in Welsh schools. Another sign of Britification, n'est-ce pas?

    MOF may be wrong on the detail of this but has hit on a bigger issue about Plaid. Some of us are working to correct it.

  9. rhydian fôn24/07/2009, 14:43

    Anon 13:06,

    Your comments are just a little bit stupid. You say "closer to London: so what?". As an aspiring independent nation, where is the economic sense in ignoring it? Like it or not, London is the biggest economic hub on the same island as us.

    We do need to trade with the rest of Europe too, especially with Ireland. However, transport is easiest to London so that is always going to be the economic focus of South Wales, as Liverpool-Manchester will be for North Wales. It is not being a mini-Brit to recognize who our biggest potential customers are, just being sensible.

    By the way, how do you propose trading with Brussels and Paris without approaching London, given that the Eurostar terminal is there? Are you imagining that England will allow Wales to buil a railway track to Dover, bypassing their capital? Wales must be in Europe and must trade with Europe to be a successful independent nation. All of Europe. Including the economic hub nearest us - London.

  10. Anon

    How is West Wales an English concept? It's the South Western part of Wales where I and many other people happen to live.

    I would agree that we need to improve our transport links to Ireland and the continent, although such projects would cost billions of pounds and need to be considered over the long term.

    However, to say you'd rather better links to Paris or Brussels when London is the world's financial centre is absolutely political and completely ignorant of the needs of the people and businesses of Wales.

  11. rhydian fôn24/07/2009, 15:15

    Anon 13:06,

    Final point here. You talk about the decline in teaching European languages in Wales. It's happening all over the UK. There are reasons to try boosting the number of course, but the fact is that English is a world language. German is not, and French is barely. Franky, there are more important things to worry about, such as the decline in science and maths. That is not Britification.

    If nationalists spend all their time farting around that things are too British, English, or close to London, Wales will never succeed as an independent nation. As a committed nationalist, I have rather more important things to worry about.

  12. Rhydian is quite right. I never thought i'd see the day where fellow Plaid members (allegedly!) wanted Wales not to have electrified railways. Welsh nationalism means looking beyond borders guys, not putting borders up. Welsh nationalism is about connecting Wales to the rest of the world, not shutting ourselves off.

    It's true that Wales will still be an extractive economy but to change it its a long-term process, which Plaid is working. I'm confident Plaid is up for the job on this and that Ieuan is already moving things in the right direction in terms of supporting indigenous business, and bringing foreign investment in as well.

    To suggest that Adam Price is ditching nationalism is lunacy.

  13. rhydian fôn24/07/2009, 16:34

    Thank you Anon 16:19. Yes, Wales will continue as an extractive economy. I'm not saying that the extractive economy of the past was ideal, but
    there are now huge economic forces keeping it that way.

    Changing the extractive economy is only possible as a long-term aim. The upside (?) for us is that Wales now has little easily extracted mineral resources, due to past exploitation. Our main resource is our people, and it is easier to counteract the extractive effect in that case.

    Wales can be independent, but it can't do it alone. We may have suffered from English oppression and been a marginal entity in Britain, but just as it would be stupidity to cut your nose off to spite your own face, we can't ignore basic macroeconomic facts about the London area and England as a whole.

  14. Rhydian and Ryan are getting dangerously near my exaggerated stereotype with the words they are using. I am more concerned than when I started. OK, London is on the same island but that implies an insular British world; mine is European and global in which all links matter.

    Rhydian, please don't use the divisive, British "South Wales and "North Wales"! For heaven's sake, where's the line anyway; Corwen, Cefn Coed? They are specific UK terminology used to divide the nation, beloved by the likes of Kinnock and Touhig. For Welsh nationalists to use such terms is beyond me. The same goes for "West Wales"; where the hell is it? If you mean Ceredigion, Powys, etc, why not use the actual name. Why deny Welsh locality and community? Many Brits do it because they are lazy or biased. Saves using alien Welsh words.

    "London is the world's financial Centre", says Rhydian Over the top, I'm afraid. Today's FT says it is "Europe's pre-eminent financial centre" in an article which reports on plans to turn Paris into "Europe's economic powerhouse". Existing links with the imperial capital are fine compared to other European centres; that's my point about improving other links. And why would anybody outside South East England want to travel through London?

    Finally, "English is a world language". The Brits will love that! First, there are many world languages: Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Russian. The implication is that English is all we Welsh need. George Thomas and Leo Abse will be laughing in their graves.

    Boys, words and phrases matter. They carry enormous cultural and political baggage. Far too many Welsh nationalists have absorbed these value-laden concepts without, I suggest, realising how anti-Welsh or un-Welsh they are. We have to change the discourse if we want independence.

  15. rhydian fôn24/07/2009, 17:49

    Anon: I did not say that London was the world's financial centre - that was Ryan - but the fact is that is more important than any other city in Europe. It is also closer to us than anywhere else. Why should anybody else want to travel through London? Please visit Westminster - tell them of your plans to link to Europe bypassing London. You think you'll get anywhere this side of never? Political reality mate... Yes, all links do matter. And London is already linked to Paris and Brussels. What kind of economics are you using to suggest cutting it out?

    If you want everyone to type out the 22 LAs in Wales all the time, you're not onto a winner. Y Gogledd a'r De is what I use, sometimes with -Ddwyrain and -Orllewin attached. These are all officially recognized region within Wales, as is the West Wales and the Valleys NUTS 3 area for ERDF/ESF purposes, and the WSP regions. Calling for us not to use it is like refuting the term United Kingdom - I dislike the united bit and I want to abolish monarchy, but that is the state we live in at the moment, and if you want to talk about economic regions so that everybody understands you, you use the UK.

    You mentioned the falling numbers of students choosing other European languages - I said nothing about Chinese and Russian. Spanish is used by many people, but is not a language of the business establishment. I am not suggesting abandoning Welsh - as a first-language Welsh-speaker, it would be akin to chopping my foot off. That does not change the fact that America, India and China do most of their business in English. Reality.

    Instead of getting high and mighty about the Anglicization of terminology, or trying to imagine a world without London, try doing something useful to ensure an independent Wales.

  16. "rhydian fôn said...


    Anon above makes a good point. Wales must trade with England to be succesfully independent, and better communication links will make that happen to a greater degree.

    There is the risk of the drain you speak of. But Swansea already has excellent links to London via Cardiff - 19 minutes faster on a train won't make a world of difference. The bigger risk of a drain is to Cardiff-Swansea along a Norrth-South link. The north west would be particularly hard hit."

    Sorry Rhydian but youre tripping here mate! On the one hand you're arguing that stronger links between us and London (a powerful metropolitan centre)will be beneficial to us, and yet on the other hand you try to argue that stronger links between Cardiff/Swansea (powerful metropolitan centres - in a Welsh context) and "North Wales", will be detrimental. Sorry, but the same logic applies.

    You really need to re-read Monbiot's article. All the East/Wales links in Wales are extractive - energy, transport, whatever, and this link is no exception. The idea that we have some kind of "equal" trading relationship with London is pure fantasy.

  17. Oh, and while were at it:

    1) Brit government's timetable for completion of the electrification programme - 2020.

    2) Brit government's timetable for completion of the Severn Barrage - 2020.

    Neatly solves the problem of getting through the wet Severn tunnel. Run it over the Severn Barrage. Links us more tightly into the South-West of England. All with the unwitting help of IWJ, Rhodri Morgan's left bollock...

  18. rhydian fôn24/07/2009, 23:20

    Draig: I am not arguing that there is an equal trading partnership to London. What I'm saying is that South Wales- London is in an equilibrium - shortening the journey by 19 minutes won't move much wealth towards London, but it might help Cardiff and Swansea to be that bit closer. On the other hand, a new North-South link will shift wealth to the South by substantially cutting journey times. There is a big difference.

    Monbiot is not an economist. Every economy is extractive in the sense that wealth travels to the biggest economic center nearby. The difference between an East-West extractive economy and creating a North-South link is that there is no basis for trade between North and South Wales. So any link will kill off any productive capacity in the North, simply because Cardiff-Swansea is the bigger center.

  19. There are so many comments, I apologise for not being able to respond to each and every one of them.

    A general thread amongst those who disagree with me is that criticising the rail link is somehow isolationist. But that argument doesn’t hold water.

    To avoid isolation a country needs secondary links to places outwith its borders, links which are an addition to its primary internal links. As the south Wales line will be the only electrified line in Wales it confirms the point that George (a Plaid member, incidentally) makes that Welsh transport links are a drain from Wales.
    The Swansea - London electrified railway will be Wales’ PRIMARY railway. The current Plaid driven (Labour sat nav) government’s policies don’t make internal national links secondary, tertiary, or even a deciary priority, they are dismissed.

    If Wales is to become a nation once again we need good primary road and rail links north to south and back again. Without them the north will always be a suburb of Liverpool and will see Cardiff as a foreign place, the midlands will always be a satellite of Birmingham, and the south will always be more interested in Bristol and London than it is in Llanduudno or Wrecsam.

    When Unionists support the status quo, I understand their argument, but when Welsh nationalists argue in favour of maintaining the drainage system I despair.

  20. I have to say that I find myself in complete agreement with Alwyn here. I find it amazing that so-called "Nationalists" (in reality, regionalists) can argue that there is no economic basis for a unified Welsh economy, and that we will somehow derive benefit from being "closer" to London.

    The idea that there is, for example, no demand in north wales (and therefore no basis) for trade in south-wales produced steel goods is ridiculous. A north-south line could create local employment all the along the length of the link, and needn't lead to wealth and talent "draining" to Cardiff. The reality is that many welsh speakers move to Cardiff anyway, because it's easier to move than actually commute.

    The arguments of people like Rhydian Fon prove pretty conculsively that the so-called "One Wales" government is not about promoting a unified wales at all. It's all about Labour reassuring london that Wales isn't going anywhere, all the while propped up by Plaid's deluded Left, who are playing straight into Labour's hands.

  21. rhydian fôn25/07/2009, 16:39

    Draig: It is interesting that both you and Alwyn seek to question my nationalism rather than making sound arguments.

    You seem to be ignoring the point here. The economy of North Wales serves a function servicing the wider economy of the North of England, in the same way as Suth Wales serves a similar role within London's orbit. I look forward to seeing Wales as a powerful national economy, but at the moment it is a peripheral regional economy.

    The reason for this is not an evil British plot to undermine Welsh unity, but a consequence of centuries of development constrained by geography. At the moment, Wales is geared towards England, and my argument is that we can't break that link with the "magic pill" of a north-south link.

    I never denied that there is demand for South-produced goods in the North, or vice versa. I am saying that it is not enough. You discuss what a north-south line "could" create. A north-south link would cost a sizeable chunk of the Assembly's annual budget. What could happen is immaterial. We need to be sure that it will happen. Can you guarantee that the north-south volume of trade plus employment along the line will outweigh the costs of a huge capital investment project?

    You also say that a link "needn't" lead to wealth and talent draining to Cardiff. Of course not. But can you say won't instead of needn't? There may be ways past this, but can you honestly guarantee people that their communities definitely will not fall in the outer orbit of Cardiff-Swansea? That would cause sinificant damage to Welsh unity, with people resenting the M4 corridor more than they have in the past.

    You also talk about Welsh speakers already moving to Cardiff, which is the most spurious argument of the lot. There is no doubt that people move from tthe north to Cardiff, as people move from Swansea to London. The difference is that there is already a train directly from London to Swansea. There is no north-south link except for the sub-standard A470. A completely new north-south link creates an unknown - and one that we will have spent a lot of money building.

    I am definitely in favour of a North-South link in the long run, but it is not a magic pill that will solve all our woes by having money thrown at it. The economy of Wales is geared East-West and that is not a pattern we can break overnight. The link must be put together piece by piece, so that when the final part of the link is in place, internal trade in Wales is ready to fully utilize it. At the same time, we must accept that the biggest market for our produce does actually lie on the other side of Offa's Dyke.

    Calling me a regionalist, questioning my nationalism, and accusing me of working against promoting an unified Wales is just weak.

  22. Rhydian you are peddling an unionist myth, by stating that the roads in Wales run East to West for geographical reasons. They run that way for political reasons. They were built to link Wales and Ireland to the heart of the British Empire. There were plenty of geographical restraints in developing these routs too, but they were overcome by groundbreaking feats of Engineering such as the Menai and Conwy bridges and the Conwy tunnel. If the political will to build a north south road or rail link existed then the geographical problems would have been as expertly dealt with.

    Yes a decent north south rail link would be very expensive, but you can't say that the money isn't available a few days after praising Plaid and Ieuan Wyn for obtaining a billion pounds to upgrade one of the east-west links. Again if the political will was there then the money would be there.

    The reason why the political will isn't there is because building and improving the eastern links is an unionist agenda and building strong internal links is a nationalist agenda, which is why Draig and I question the overwhelming support that the electrification project has received from Plaid bloggers and supporters

    Your argument that a good north-south link would lead to money being drained from the north to the south is also an old unionist "divide and conquer" chestnut. Even if it was true - so what? Wouldn't it be better that the money that currently goes to Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and London remained in Wales?

  23. rhydian fôn25/07/2009, 20:12

    Why would it be better Alwyn? Where is the advantage in Cardiff getting the money at the expense of north Wales rather than London? Surely that is just repeating the whole problem of the United Kingdom in an independent Wales? Surely it is more sensible to plan an economic geography where each part of Wales benefits economically from independence? But no you say, Cardiff is in Wales ergo money spent in Cardiff is better. Grow up will you.

    There would be a north-south link if the British Empire had seen any economic advantage in it. The reason there is no road is that it would take too much effort to design a road that faces the serious geographical obstacles of Wales. The roads run east-west because the market for slate and coal were in that direction. The geographical reasons are the whole point of extractive economics. The political will depends on there being an economic benefit.

    You are so convinced of your Welsh righteousness that you think that economics, sociology, geography and physics just do not apply. You are nationalists, I will not deny that - but you are also the biggest threat to the nationalist cause with your crackpot ideas.

  24. Rhydian as I mentioned on my other blog yesterday there is no need to be rude when you find yourself losing an argument.

    As to being righteous and not facing facts, I am afraid that seems to be your problem you try to refute historical and political facts because they dont fit into your loyalty to party spin about the electrification of the south Wales line.

    If Plaid thinks that strengthening the internal Welsh economy and improving internal transports links rather than spending a billion on strengthening Wales' dependence on England is a crackpot idea what in the point of Plaid?

  25. rhydian fôn25/07/2009, 22:56

    I think it was you who questioned my nationalism in the first place. The way I see it, that is the height of rudeness.

    You are persisting in your desire to see Wales as the victim. The fact is that demand can't be created at the flick of a switch, no matter how much money you spend on it. That is why I advocate taking a slower approach to a north-south link. The Swansea-London link already exists and will only be slightly faster through electrification - but £250m will be spent in the south of Wales to do that. 19 minutes won't drastically increase our dependence on London, but it will be capital investment in Wales. And when Wales is independent, we will have a ready-made link to our biggest market, and from there to mainland Europe.

    As for your claim that I refute historical and political facts, that is ridiculous. My point is that east-west link are as they are based on a multitude of factors, not just a British plot to subvert an independent Wales. Wales had mineral wealth - why would the south need wagons of slate, or the north tonnes of surplus coal? Trade went east-west for economic and geographical reasons above all, just like all roads in France lead to Paris, in Spain to Madrid, and in Ireland to Dublin. I can't deny an unionist element to the reasoning, but that is only part of the explanation. These days, the Westminster Government would not pay for a north-south link - because it would be Welsh-nation building. That is true, but historically, the reasons are deeper.

    The way those links have structured our economy will take time to be overcome.

    Plaid is very concerned about internal transport links. Dafydd Iwan and I will be proposing an idea at our conference that would revolutionize a north-south link, hopefully along the line of Tad Deiniol's plan. I am simply arguing that this should be done slowly and with care, for the reasons given above. My argument is that strengthening the regional economies of Wales and improving local transport links is something that must be done first, and slowly creating inter-regional demand.

    Plaid Cymru is there to win independence; not to assert the blessed purity of our nationalism, or to see the world in black and white, as you seem to.

  26. No Rhydian, I have not questioned your nationalism. What I have questioned is the nationalist rational in glorifying a billion pound electrification process on a railway out of Wales, when that billion pounds could be better spent (from a nationalist perspective) on improving links within Wales.
    In all the times that I have crossed swords with you I have never called you a "crackpot", I have never suggested that you "have problems", I have never called you "a fool" or a “traitor”, all of my comments have been based on the political issue and NEVER on the personal ones. Unfortunately you are unable to respond in kind. Whenever you feel your argument waning you make personal attacks.
    The road and rail links have sod all to do with getting coal and slate out of Wales; incidentally, the raw goods went by boat! It was the money men and the civil servants and the politicians that the roads and railroads were built for!
    As to seeing things in “black and white” (a racist term) this seems to be your problem. You cannot accept that any disagreement with Plaid Cymru’s policy or statements can have any validity.
    As lovely a bloke as Ieu might be, he is only the leader of Plaid. He isn’t the Pope. His utterances are not infallible. They can be challenged without accusations of heresy!
    I don’t understand your “victim” comment. I believe that Wales has had the worse end of the stick from its union with England, are you trying to say that this is untrue? If you believe Wales has benefited from its union with England, that it has not been the “victim” what is your reason for supporting the national cause?

  27. rhydian fôn26/07/2009, 11:19

    For an explanation of how the railway system in Wales was built through market demand, see blogmenai.

    Yes, Wales has suffered; so has Ireland and Scotland. Yet Ireland is a succesful independent nation, and Scotland is well on the way to becoming one. The union may have damaged us, but it seems futile to seek to assign new imaginary crimes to the list.

    I not that your post holds no reply to the arguments I have laid out above.

  28. This string has generated a real debate about strategic issues facing the independence movement. Many truths have been revealed, which is good.

    As I've poster earlier, Plaid urgently needs to get out of the British bubble it is currently locked into, thus my snide 'Little Britain' comment. The other dangers for the party are IWJ's excessive managerialist approach to politics and Plaid's excessive reliance on electoral organisation excellence (which I don't doubt) to win. Without a vision, all this is of limited value.

    My thesis is that Plaid needs to become much more overtly European in outlook (many alllies with the same agenda) and be much, much more aware of the dangers of resurgent British nationalism in all the unionist parties. And, my current bête noir, denying Wales in the London media and their Cardiff 'running dogs'. But when genuine Welsh nationalists can use the imperialist term "North Wales" and refer to a separate "economy of North Wales", it reveals the extent of the problem. We do not even control our own political discourse in the English language (I can't comment on Welsh). We can, at least change that ourselves.

  29. rhydian fôn26/07/2009, 12:36

    Anon: I can agree with most of that, except the British bubble bit. You are arguing for a change in the orientation of our economy. My point is that this is easier said than done.

    England is a market of 40 million+ over Offa's Dyke - Ireland is a market of 4 million with a sea in between and Scotland means passing through England, whilst mainland Europe can't be our primary market just yet because of the geography. As the economy of Wales expand, that should change of course, but at the moment Wales is a regional economy of the wider UK economy, and it is currently locked into that pattern, by more than just political will.

    The first step is the gradual development of internal transport links - gradual as it will not be affordable otherwise. The political breakup of the UK is something we could do now if we wanted to; changing underlying economic patterns is more of a challenge.

    I am very glad to hear you talking about Europe, although the party is so pro-Europe I'm not sure what more to do without calling for a federal European state. Please tell me more though, as I am interested in this idea.

    As for electoral organisation over vision, I can agree - I have been arguing that the party must concentrate on developing soud policies rather than campaigning and electioneering. But my success thus far has been limited - votes won are what counts, although I feel that is dangerous and short-termist. The frustration for me is that we have many deep thinkers in Plaid and a lot of ideas are developed, with a coherent vision linking them, but that vision is only made public in a limited way.

  30. Rhydian. Ah the joys of Marxian dialectic: thesis, antithesis, synthesis! Thanks to MOF for raising this whole thing. Maybe the internet can set us free. You wouldn't get this in Llais y Sais.

    I would like to see current evidence of your market analysis, which takes us back to links of all kinds. Surely, Wales is in a common European market, e.g. Welsh lamb; all our cockles go to the mainland (we can't even buy them here!), Airbus, S4C animation, etc? Doesn't Ffos Las depend Irish entries and race-goers? I am no expert on this. Is there a good research paper available? And, of course, new markets. Then we can have a sounder debate on MOF's point

    On the EU, I strongly feel Plaid currently does not really embrace the concept. I can provide much evidence but perhaps not in the public prints yet. OK, perhaps one pub quiz question: who is Plaid representative on the Committee of the Regions? (No searching on-line. My point is have you seen any public evidence of political activity or campaigning in this important / useful role for the acualité of Wales in Europe?) As a bench-mark, we know what the MEP does. CoR is a parallel institution for Plaid to use. And this is not particularly having a go at the present incumbent.

  31. A good post Alwyn and a good question! It should also not be foergotten that the international Bacclauriate (sp) decided to move their headquarters from Cardiff to Amsterdam because Cardiff was to remote and transport links were poor. That may seem to contradict your assertion but not really! electrification is not the only thing needed! its all Wales!

  32. rhydian fôn26/07/2009, 18:19

    CotR is Nerys, I'm pretty sure. But point taken there. There is more we could do - CotR barely has any profile in Wales. What are your ideas, on this and generally? I am genuinely interested.

    On the market, I'l have a look for a few papers and post the titles on this blog if you want - I know I've read a few over the past years. You are right of course - Welsh products are sold everywhere in Europe and it is beneficial for us to maximize this. But I am sure there are stats out there showing England to be the biggest market - I think we are making life harder for ourselves if we ignore that.

    I'll find some titles for you, and you are right on the dialectic :-) Sorry for the brief reply - headache. My grandmother is an internet whizz-kid, of which I am very proud, but she occassionally does something drastic to her PC...

  33. I'm not sure I have much more to say than others have already said on this subject, so I'll just reiterate what I've said on Syniadau about this being a good decision.

    My reasons are primarily environmental. It is high time that all lines of this sort were electrified. That applies whether they run from Wales to London, or Sheffield to London or anywhere else.

    At this point I would note that getting the route through to Swansea electrified IS a major political victory. In the first place the project that should (on a business case model) have been done first is the Midland main line from London to Sheffield. The route to Bristol was next in the queue, then Oxford, and only then south Wales. We have jumped the queue ... and that can ONLY have happened because of political pressure. We have good reason to be pleased with ourselves.


    I have absolutely no time for re-runs of the old arguments about Wales being a victim, or not, of England ... or of commercial pressure ... or anything. Let's start from where we are now and improve what we've got in the way that suits us best.

    In my opinion the big battle we now face is to get away from thinking that this fairly large investment in rail infrastructure is all we can expect for the foreseeable future ... that it will somehow distract us from the aim of building up the rail network in the rest of Wales.

    There is no reason why it should. Bear in mind that this electrification is something that will eventually pay for itself. The same would also be true of the electrification of the North Coast line to Holyhead and the Valleys lines in the south. The question is how we do it, and the answer is always the same: the ability to borrow.

    Therefore the MAIN problem is for the Welsh Government to get borrowing powers. We can then embark upon a structured programme of transport improvements in Wales rather than have to rely on the priorities set by the UK government.

    In the meantime we will just have to do the best we can by setting aside part of our block grant for transport infrastructure projects.

  34. Rhydian,

    The fact of the matter is that you stated that there is "No" basis for trade between North and South Wales, which is an incredible statement to make. And also a blanket statement with not a shred of evidence to support it. If you don't like people questioning your nationalism, then maybe you should refrain from making statements that play right into the hands of the divide and rule agenda of the British establishment.

    You have also not addressed the contradictory nature of your comments. If the "productive capacity" of North Wales is risked by a north/south link because, in your own words "Cardiff/Swansea is the bigger centre" then what does linking us more effectively to London (a far bigger centre in a UK context)do for the productive capacity of south wales?

    And has the Assembly, under IWJ even commissioned a feasibility study into a North/South line?

  35. rhydian fôn27/07/2009, 16:31

    Draig: I questioned the basis and said that the idea of the north and south trading was ridiculous. Which it is. If I used the words "no basis", I apologize - I should have said no real basis. There may be some demand, but by no stretch of the imagination is there enough. This means that there is no realistic basis for trade, unless you are suggesting that Wales get itself into debt or cuts other public services to finance building a link that nobody uses. The demand needs to be created.

    Last time I checked, London was a financial centre that doesn't manufacture in the same way an to the scale that South Wales does. In fact, cost-of-living and producing in London makes it likely that firms will want to produce in its orbit, but not in the place itself.

    Lastly, as I keep saying, Cardiff-Swansea is already firmly in London's orbit and 19 minutes saved is almost immaterial. North Wales is not in Cardiff's orbit, except politically - creating a North-South link without taking would be a massive shock to the economy. I'll take a look for evidence showing that the economy of Wales operates on an east-west basis.

    I "should refrain from making statements that play right into the hands of the divide and rule agenda of the British establishment"? My statements concerned the facts. If you think that the truth gets in the way of nationalism, it's obvious that we are thinking very differently.

    I don't think it's got that far - but IWJ has already extended train services on a north-south link. Tad Deiniol's plan has been supported by many AMs, Plaid and otherwise - so I'm sure that a feasibility plan will be produced soon anyway.

  36. Rhydian,

    To try and infer that I'm suggesting one part of Wales just trade with itself is twisting what I'm trying to say. I am simply talking about a more integrated Welsh economy. We are probably the only country in Europe that does not have such unity. Even partitioned Ireland probably has greater integration, with easy access from Dublin to Belfast to travel and shop.

    And is trading with London really that beneficial? The London Olympics comes to mind. A huge, privatised infrastructure project, government sponsored, where a mere handful of contracts have been awarded to Welsh companies. Meanwhile our facilities are being asset-stripped in order to fund it. Obviously hugely beneficial to the Welsh economy...

    You would have thought a feasibility study for a N/S line would have been IWJs first priority.
    The idea of a "One Wales" line has powerful rhetorical appeal as well as economic benefits.
    I really don't buy the idea that the cost would cripple our economy. Tad Deiniol's plan makes clear that we're not talking about building an entirely new line, but filling in gaps in an existing, incomplete line. My guess is that £250 million would go a hell of a long way.

    Such a project could create demand for Welsh produced steel products, underpinning economically important areas of Wales such as Port Talbot and Shotton at a time when the future of the steel industry looks shaky.

  37. rhydian fôn28/07/2009, 09:16

    Draig: £250 m that the Assembly doesn't have - we are facing cuts of £2bn between now and 2014! I am in favour of Tad Deiniol's plan - even extending it a bit to fill the gaps between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog, Blaenau and Bala, and a fw other gaps. I'd also like to see a longer term connection between Bangor and Pwllheli, and Aberystwyth and Fishguard, although these involve laying new line which is why I note the longer term.

    But, Tad Deiniol's plan has to be approached stage by stage. The Welsh economy at the moment is not at all integrated, and new lines won't radically alter that. It will require Assembly intervention at the beginning to break the east-west pattern.

    That is why I note that this isn't simply a problem of throwing money at railways. The local connections must be a priority, joining up to form a national network - a sort of endogenous development. Making North-South travel gradually easier makes more sense to me than trying to do it all at once.

    Regarding the steel industry, I agree completely.

    I am a bit surprised too, but I suppose that IWJ didn't expect to step into the biggest recession sic the 1930s and a period of public sector squeeze never seen before.