This General Election is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable in recent memory, and from all sides of the political spectrum, business leaders, large and small are keen to tell us why they’re backing one large Westminster based Party, or the other. There was even a group, imploring us to vote Liberal Democrat recently.
Well I run a business, and I don’t agree with their verdicts. Why does my opinion differ and why should that matter? Because, I run a business in Wales, that supports other Welsh businesses to grow our economy, generate wealth, and create high quality local jobs. Indycube now has twenty coworking spaces across the length and breadth of Wales, with a further ten planned for the remainder of 2015. We’re working as hard in some of our hard pressed communities as we are in our cities. Over a thousand people working in small and micro-businesses have used our spaces over the past five years, and I’ve got to know most of these business owners personally. I’ve got a clear idea as to what they need, and as importantly, what they don’t.
The biggest single thing they need is to be believed in. We need our politicians to have faith that the future prosperity of our Country will come from within, and not without. Reliance on the Barnett formula for delivering money from Westminster to Cardiff Bay; incentivising foreign corporations to base themselves in Wales and profiteer off the back of our workforce in the blinkered pursuit of jobs; and, forever following the myth of ‘best practice’, have all failed before, and will fail again. This isn’t the way to build a prosperous (not just in terms of money) Wales.
Our politicians must believe that Wales’ biggest assets are its people. Leanne Wood has stated just that, time and time again. You know what? I believe her. If we can’t rely on Westminster parties to deliver for Wales, then let’s rely on ourselves. When Leanne kicked off the first leadership debate saying that she was interested in Wales, it was music to my ears – that was what I was interested in. If more politicians are sent to Westminster with a clear mandate to deliver for their local community, rather than tow a Westminster party line, the better it will be for Wales.
Business people are often derided as being selfish. I run a social enterprise that has NEVER taken or requested any grant funding – in fact we pay taxes back in to the pot. Like many businesses in Wales (whether formally a social enterprise like us, or not), business people care. If they were only interested in chasing money, they’d probably locate elsewhere. The value of family, community and the fantastic country-scape in which we live are also of significant value to us.
When you run your own business, it’s important that you’re ambitious for it to succeed. When you see an NHS that is being negatively compared to the one across the border; when you see an education system that is missing the opportunity to challenge all our children to become the creative leaders of the future; and when you see far too many children living in poverty (when the UK is the sixth richest economy in the world), it’s apparent that we need politicians who will take on these challenges in a way that suits our Country. We’re a small country, but that is our strength – we can move quickly, try things out, fail and learn, be creative and most of all, be ambitious for ourselves. For Wales to remain so poor that it once again qualified for Structural Assistance from the EU is an embarrassment at best, or more accurately an absolute travesty for those families who are destined to spend a lifetime in poverty.
Most people will have made up their mind which way they’re going to vote on Thursday. Lots will be voting for something they believe in; lots will be voting for the first time; lots will be voting for a different Party than they did last time; lots will be voting for the same Party they always have; and, lots won’t vote at all. In Wales, for far too long, we’ve allowed one Party to dominate. The Welsh ‘block’ vote has kept the Labour Party forceful in Westminster, and of course more recently, in Cardiff Bay. And yet, Wales remains one of the poorest regions in Europe – their centrally controlled policies just haven’t benefitted us, here in Wales. The old truism of putting a Labour rosette on a donkey in some parts of Wales, and they’d still get in needs to be laid to waste – our children and grandchildren can’t afford for us to miss the opportunity for better. The Conservatives don’t get Wales, and probably never will, and the Lib Dems have lost their reforming zeal, in a barely concealed attempt to appeal to the two biggest parties as a suitable suitor in coalition. Neither of them will deliver for Wales, and our future.
I believe in Wales; I believe in my community; I’m fed up of Wales being taken for granted. Plaid’s policies don’t 100% match my views but they’re much more ambitious for Wales than the rest, and that’s massive. That’s why I’m voting Plaid Cymru on May 7th.