Labour as parody: what we know about PFI


By Myfanwy Davies, a candidate on the South Wales West list.

There is a flamboyance about some recent Labour posturing that I almost find myself admiring. Not politically of course, it's poisonous, cynical stuff that erodes people's belief in politics, but as a kind of parody on itself it might almost work...

Take Li'l Ed Milliband's appearance at the TUC rally. Ian Titherington ( usefully asks, what was he doing there? His party would have presided over cuts every bit as vicious for us in Wales. At least he looked like he'd rather be somewhere else...

The highlight of last week for me though has to be from Susan Elan Jones, shiny new MP for Clwyd South. Having been part of the Labour party that ditched its commitment to public ownership, that was profoundly relaxed about 'people getting filthy rich', that oversaw the gap between rich and poor increasing to the widest point under the welfare state, and that spilt the blood of our men and women in illegal wars, she has now decided that our party is veering to the right. Cheers. (Though rumour has it that the real author is closer to Pontypridd than Wrecsam.)

The basis for this concern? That we deliberately held our (long-booked) conference the same day as the TUC rally and she is worried that Build for Wales is PFI.

First, congratulations to the TUC. The rally was a great build up for the fight for pension rights and I'm pleased so many speakers at Plaid's conference referred to it from the stage.

At a North Wales rally against the cuts back in December, the presence of so many pleidwyr standing together with the Unions as speakers and supporters spoke volumes. Mabon ap Gwynfor, (Clwyd South) was there, but Ms Jones didn't make an appearance. And on Saturday there will be a Welsh anti-cuts rally in Bangor – Plaid will be there!

But to turn to the one serious point she seeks to make, Build for Wales is a not for profit fund for jobs and training (see

PFI was invented by the Tories and is a kind of hire purchase so inefficient that even the Treasury is looking for an alternative. But if Labour didn't devise PFI, they made it their own. In the face of union opposition, Gordon Brown maintained that PFI was the quickest way of building infrastructure. Some Labour thinkers saw the combination of private profit and the public good as being inherently wholesome, though wiser heads recognised it as a fundamentally un-socialist approach.

As the Tories in England transfer actual services - teaching, healthcare and so on - to private hands, we in Plaid know that Labour cleared the way for them.

And as Plaid's manifesto is published in the next few days, people will make their own judgements about who will fight for Wales and for the most vulnerable.

Ms Jones might share our values. If so, she joined the wrong party. If not, isn't there something grotesque about dressing up in the colours of those whom you've betrayed?