Elin Mair Walker Jones – Plaid Cymru – Clwyd West
All views on this page are from the candidate unedited.
We first asked them to tell us a little about who they are, any political history, about their political leanings and what skills you have to be a top level politician in Wales?
Originally from Carmarthen, I grew up campaigning for Dr Gwynfor Evans, the first Plaid Cymru MP in Westminster. I’ve always felt that Wales could do better and that our needs are often ignored on UK platforms. We have so many resources and talented people. We could do so much better! Decisions are made about what happens in Wales without consulting us and that’s not fair. People should be involved in the decisions that affect their lives.
I’m an NHS clinical psychologist, working with children and young people with learning disabilities and autism, and their families. Working in children’s community services with vulnerable families, I’ve seen for myself how inequality, injustice and poverty has decimated communities. We know that unequal societies mean social issues such as poverty, crime, drug use, homelessness, and a whole host of other problems and that needs to change!
I’m a firm believer in social equality and I’m proud to say that recently I obtained support from my fellow councillors at Cyngor Gwynedd to pass a motion calling for a pilot plan for UBI.
Living and working in North Wales for over twenty years, it’s an honour to stand for the people of Clwyd West. I hope to make sure that the voices of the people of Clwyd West and indeed North Wales are heard loud and clear in Cardiff.
1 – Aside from Covid and Covid recovery, what do you feel is the top issue for this constituency in the forthcoming parliament term, and briefly explain how you would like to see your desired outcome achieved ?
Clwyd West is a diverse constituency in terms of people and geography and so the issues that concern people are also diverse. For example, in the populous coastal belt, people are often retired and worried about the cost and inequity of social care. We in Plaid Cymru will create a seamless National Health and Care service, free at the point of delivery, and decrease the frustrating bureaucracy faced by people today in ensuring that their loved ones get the support services that they need.
In the rural south of the constituency, people are also worried about the plight of the farming industry, so we need to involve our farmers in finding viable solutions to maintain and develop our family farms, crucial to the rural economy as well as to the Welsh economy and food industry.
2 – What is your plan for helping residents and businesses in your constituency in the coming years to recover from the pandemic?
We need to invest to good quality jobs and Plaid Cymru has pledged to support small businesses, also creating jobs across Wales. We also will create 5,000 affordable homes over the next 5 years. We will lift young families out of poverty with weekly payments of £35 per week per child and free child care for young children over 2 years old.
Older people will benefit from our plans for free social care as will others who need support for other reasons such as illness, disability or mental health issues.
3 – The pandemic has highlighted to many for the first time the powers that the Senedd have under devolution. How has the pandemic changed your views of devolution?
The pandemic has highlighted the fact that Wales is better off making decisions for itself, instead of relying on the chumocracy of a Tory Westminster government. The people of Wales should make the decisions that affect their lives.
4 – What would you have done differently on the Welsh covid response?
I think that the Welsh Government have done the best they can under the circumstances. No-one knew how this pandemic would pan out, and some of the problems have related to Wales not having access to resources (eg PPE) that they were meant to get as part of a British deal or not having the right to take decisions about furlough payments that suited Wales’ arrangements.
I would have made mask-wearing compulsory indoors in public places much sooner.
5 – Would you support legislation to hold an independence referendum for Wales? How would you vote in such a referendum and why?
I am completely in favour of holding an independence referendum in Wales, and I would campaign and vote for an independent Wales. I believe we have the skills, talent and drive to make Wales a successful country on the international stage and no country is too poor or too small to look after its own interests. We can do this!
6 – What actions would you take, or support, as a MS to encourage Welsh language use growth? Or, if you are against this, why?
I’m bilingual so I use both Welsh and English fluently. I’m a Board member of our local Welsh language enterprise and with my NHS hat, I work to ensure that Welsh speakers have equitable access to services in health and social care at LHB and Welsh Government level. Welsh is the native language of Wales and a language that many living in Wales use on a daily basis. Why wouldn’t we as a nation be proud of this, it belongs to all of us, whether we speak it or not. I’d support the right for every child in Wales to learn Welsh in school, so that they have a real choice as to whether they’d like to speak it when they are adults. I’d support Welsh lessons for adults too.
7 – What does “climate emergency” mean to you, and why?
I’m concerned that we are racing towards the point of no return with our effect on the planet and I believe that we need to change the way we behave before it’s too late. I’ve led a motion to make Gwynedd Council plastic free; and urge our Government to make Wales plastic-free. We need to make Wales carbon neutral as soon as possible and Plaid Cymru has plans for a Nature Act to increase biodiversity.
8 – There can be a perception that politicians are too “South Wales focused” and can see a north south divide. Do you think this is the case, and realistically if elected which of your North Wales specific goals do you think you can deliver?
We need to make sure that North Wales gets its fair share of investment and support and we tend to lose out in North Wales. Travel corridors are geared for West-East travel rather than North-South and this is something that a Plaid Cymru government would address. Plaid is also committed to creating good quality jobs across the whole of Wales rather than just in the populous south.
9 – What are your views on a LGBTQ+ plan for Wales?
We in Plaid Cymru believe that people should be valued for who they are whatever their personal characteristics and social circumstances. We believe in an equitable Wales. I will fight to make sure that we have better services to support the LGBTQ+ community as well as work to change attitudes.
10 – Children and young people have missed almost a full year of regular education – what are your plans to make sure that children who have missed out on academic and social experiences are not left at a disadvantage in the next few years?
Plaid Cymru have plans to review the Education system, to get rid of an archaic examination system and replace it with a system that is fit for purpose in the 21st century. We will invest in more teachers and teacher support staff to reduce class sizes.
11 – Local services such as libraries, leisure centres and community centres have been badly affected in recent years due to lack of funding – how would you support local authorities?
We need to review the Barnett formula so that Wales gets the funding we need to raise ourselves out of poverty. Local authority funding has been cut in real terms, year and after year, stripping services to the bone. We need to rebalance the figures so that local authorities get the funding they need to fund these services. These services are so often seen as being non-essential; as they’re not statutory but we’ve seen the dramatic effect on communities, on young people’s mental health and so on when we cut such important services.
12 – How would you resolve issues at the local health board that are emerging from special measures?
As an NHS employee I know how committed front-line staff are to delivering safe and effective health care in a timely manner. I’d like to see a Welsh Government that supports and engages the Welsh NHS in facing the challenges of a 21st century NHS, with increasing treatments available, an ageing population, increasing costs, a global pandemic. The NHS needs to be congratulated for what it has managed to achieve in the past 12 months. Thank you NHS.
13 – What are you planning to do to help those who are finding it hard to find work?
I’m a keen supporter of the principles of UBI – Universal Basic Allowance – and would like to see a pilot conducted in Wales. UBI would enable individuals to stop worrying about paying bills, access training, seek new work opportunities, care for loved ones, support their communities etc.
In addition, Plaid Cymru has plans to create new jobs, in health and care, education, renewable energy sectors, focusing too on pledging to provide work and training opportunities for every young person aged between 16-25 years old.
14 – Plaid are keen on welsh independence, but also want to remain part of the EU. Is that position true independence, or is the policy really just independence from Westminster?
It makes sense that nations work together to resolve issues that face us as a planet, including climate change, international security, pandemics, eradication of war, poverty, migration etc. We would work with other nations to tackle these issues. The EU has resulted historically in net gains for Wales. Plaid wants to participate as an equal nation, rather than as an invisible adjunct to a British state. The needs of the people of Wales are ignored and overlooked in Westminster, hence the need for an independent Wales, but we need to participate on the European and world stage in world affairs to resolve global crises that affect us all.
15 The Senedd has never returned a majority of Plaid Cymru MS’s, nor has Wales chosen to elect a high number of MPs, unlike the SNP. Is this a sign what you’re offering is not what Wales wants or is your message not strong enough?
Plaid Cymru has always had a strong influence on direction of travel in Wales and many of our policies have been adopted by Welsh Government. For example, the Labour party is now pledging to create a medical school at Bangor University. This has been a Plaid policy for years even when the Welsh Labour party dismissed this idea as unnecessary. The same goes for the policy of funding 5,000 more doctors and nurses. Jamie Oliver liked Plaid’s policy of a sugar tax!!!
16 Your manifesto suggests funding a pilot scheme to bring “significant numbers of holiday homes into community ownership through public intervention in the existing housing market”, why is that a priority for public money, and how does that fix the issue of holiday homes taking up housing supply?
Holiday homes often do not benefit local communities, and often result in ghost villages. They push up house prices and are a factor in pricing out young people from the local housing market. Our first priority has to be to make sure that everyone who lives in Wales has a safe place to live and to call home. Any schemes that support this principle as an end goal have to be piloted as we realise that the housing issue is a complex one, requiring interventions at many levels. In addition, tourism is an industry in which we are all customers so why wouldn’t we want to welcome people to visit our beautiful country – but it does make sense that communities benefit from the industry.
17 As a party you could end up at the coalition discussion table, what would be your personal red line issues in such a discussion?
Plaid Cymru is keen to lead a Welsh Government on its own merits and so discussing red lines for coalition would not be appropriate.
18 – If you change political allegiance from what you are currently seeking election for (eg. resigning from, or joining another party or group) will you trigger a by-election? If not, why not?
I won’t change my political allegiance. My belief is that if you are elected representing a specific political party you should remain loyal to that party. The electorate have elected representatives in good faith and members wishing to change allegiances should remember that and resign rather than just cross the floor.
19 – At the time of writing where has the top three sources of funding for your campaign come from, and are there any funding sources you feel would be relevant to voters to know about?
My campaign is entirely sourced from donations by Plaid Cymru members and branches.
20 – In a few lines to wrap this up, why are you the best candidate compared to your competitors?
I believe that I’m the best candidate for Clwyd West as my priority is to represent the people that I serve, whoever they are, wherever they’re from. Plaid Cymru will always put the interests of the people of Wales first, and not the interests of a UK Westminster-centred political party.