Rhydian Hughes – Gwlad – 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?
My name is Rhydian Hughes, and I will be standing for the Senedd election on the 6th of May, representing Wales’ newest political party Gwlad – The Welsh Independence Party. All my life I have been a supporter of Wales becoming an independent nation from the United Kingdom. My first language is Welsh but with a Polish wife I have also mastered (to a degree) the Polish language. As a young man I was a Plaid Cymru supporter but soon left the party when I saw the then leader of Plaid Cymru ‘Ieuan Wyn Jones’ on Question Time I believe it was in 2000, stating that Plaid Cymru was not for Welsh Independence.
I soon left Plaid Cymru in disgust and joined another new Welsh independence party which was named ‘Independence Wales Party’ in 2000. At the time I joined ‘IWP’ I was in living and studying in in Durham and soon as IWP ceased to be active I became politically homeless.
In 2015 I joined YesCymru which was a breath of fresh air to me. Welsh independence was still a ‘pipe dream’ or an unrealistic outcome but for me I was just proud to be a part of an organisation which was solely campaigning for a free country regardless of an individual’s political affiliation or ideology. It was all about campaigning for an independent Welsh nation, which I still feel is a morally justifiable cause.
In 2015 I was elected in the first AGM as a committee member and then the coming year I was elected as Vice-Chairman of the organisation, a role I was immensely proud to serve. During my time with YesCymru I was able to participate in laying down the foundations in what we see today with the growth of membership and excitement in Welsh independence.
What makes someone electable? In this case I believe it’s someone’s love for his or her country which is lacking in Welsh politics today. With Wales being submerged with politicians that swear allegiance to the United Kingdom, Wales is being deprived of any real progress. With my interpersonal, organisational, managerial and linguistic skills I believe I am ideally suited for the role of Member of Senedd to Clwyd West in bringing real change that will benefit the people of Clwyd West.
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 ?
As it is evident, Wales and in particular Clwyd West has been under the administration of Unionists who have no interest whatsoever in the development of Wales, culturally, traditionally and economically. These politicians serve only one entity, one ideal and that is to keep Wales at a certain level. Not too poor and not too rich but just enough to be content and fearful of any real progress.
Let us take into consideration the housing crisis in Wales. According to Rightmove the UK’s largest online property website, properties, in Clwyd which also consists of Clwyd West the overall average price of house was £192,935, with detached properties, selling for an average price of £259,463 in 2020. Plumplot a statistical collection website states that the average worker in my constituency earns between £29,000 – £30,000 a year in wages. If you consider the costs an average weekly household spends in the UK, estimated to be £592.00 a week according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). It is nearly impossible for anyone in Clwyd West to purchase their own property.
This due to several factors but I believe the main one is asset buying rather than living buying. Cottage World (cottageworld.com) states in its website that there are 286 Holiday cottages in Clwyd. The numbers vary with each website an individual visits, but one thing is clear there is a lot of holiday homes in the area. Gwlad is not against people in purchasing holiday homes, on the contrary Gwlad is a pro enterprise, pro-business party but there is no equity if a property is bought just for letting purposes if the landlord expropriate the rent to be spent in England rather than reinvesting into the Welsh economy. To tackle this and to give the citizens of Clwyd West a chance in getting into the property market Gwlad has stated in its manifesto to ‘actively discourage the use of homes as second homes or holiday lets by introducing a licensing scheme like that which currently applies to HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation). A 500% Council Tax surcharge shall be applied which would be reinvested into the economic development of the constituency’.
2 – What is your plan for helping residents and businesses in your constituency in the coming years to recover from the pandemic?
- Residents: I would seek for the Senedd to provide a ‘Wales furlough’ to provide further support for families in the constituency for a maximum of 3 months. I myself experienced the inadequacy provided by the UK furlough scheme which resulted me in depleting my savings and seek work in a factory to pay the bills. I think Wales should continue a Welsh style furlough scheme for 3 months to provide security and enable our citizens to prepare for resumption of work.
- Businesses: Expanding Welsh businesses into global businesses. Wales has a unique selling point; I notice from my travels abroad when I state that things get made and manufactured in Wales people take notice. With some international experience I would seek to support businesses to expand their horizons in growth and development by exporting and promoting ‘Made in Wales’ products. I would also encourage inward investment from companies to set their base in Wales which will bring in more investment in to the area.
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 lockdown was necessary to tackle the spread of this new disease in its infancy. But I as we became more educated in the disease and had preventative guidelines, I believe that businesses and recreational facilities which had facilitated preventative measures to stop the spread of the disease through deep cleaning, etc. should not have been required to close. The same is also said with businesses if preventative measures had been placed within the organisation, it should not have been a requirement for such businesses to be in a lockdown.
4 – What would you have done differently on the Welsh covid response?
Implement a lockdown but not completely shutting the whole country down. I would have set a certain set of criteria which needed to be adhered to for a businesses to continue its operations with the safety of its workforce being paramount. Full national lockdown would not have been a requirement in my opinion.
5 – Would you support legislation to hold an independence referendum for Wales? How would you vote in such a referendum and why?
Yes. Welsh independence is a morally justifiable and in any Welsh independence vote I would emphatically YES. The reason for my decision in voting yes in a Welsh independence referendum is that I think no other country has a right a to control the destiny of another country, it is immoral and as stated by the UN 44th session (General Assembly):
“that all peoples have the right, freely and without external interference, to determine their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”
This is not the case presently for Wales.
6 – What actions would you take, or support, as a MS to encourage Welsh language use growth? Or, if you are against this, why?
As a first language Welsh speaker I would encourage and seek to implement a strong Welsh language presence in the constituency. What we presently have is insufficient regarding the growth of the Welsh language. There must be a why, for example… Why is it important to be able to speak Welsh? I would seek to implement a strategy that puts the Welsh language at the forefront of everything within my constituency. Promoting its advantages, not only does speaking Welsh bring a high degree of pride in being Welsh but it is proven that Bilingual children tend to be more successful in education. They tend to perform better in tasks. The benefits are astronomical therefore no child or adult should be deprived of Welsh.
7 – What does “climate emergency” mean to you, and why?
For me, a “climate emergency” is the rise in pollution and the increasing speed of the melting icing caps off the North Pole and Antarctica. Climate change is beyond my expertise, but I would like to see a Wales that uses science and evidence to determine its policies in how it should tackle a climate emergency. With Wales’ abundance of natural resources this is an element in which Wales should maximise its potential in safeguarding its energy supplies for future generations.
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?
I am 100% in agreement with this analysis. But have you also noticed that most of these politicians are also so far detached from reality? I am from a small village; I have had my share of trials and tribulations in reaching this point in my life. People should not have to suffer in reaching their goals. Yes, it is hard, but I think MS should be there to encourage and assist the determined individual. I want to help that individual who wants to make it in Wales. For me if a Welshman or woman succeeds, Wales wins.
9 – What are your views on a LGBTQ+ plan for Wales?
For the LGBT community in Wales. I plan for no discrimination just abundance of opportunity and chance to strive and excel in anything for the benefit of Wales. My view is… if your gay or lesbian, bi- sexual or transexual and that is your way, that is ok with me. I will never discriminate against any individual who loves another individual in the same manner as I love my wife. Love triumphs all and I will never stop anybody from loving each other, regardless of their sexual preferences.
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?
Considering that my children have also fallen into this category I think schools have done a tremendous job in facilitating classes during this difficult time. When we consider the social aspect, I would investigate providing supporting local clubs for children to retrieve some element of interaction with their peers. Regarding schooling I think students should have the opportunity to repeat the previous year if for some reason they feel not adequate to proceed forward with their education.
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?
Adequate funding on a case-by-case study. As someone who is from the countryside, I am aware that such community centres are a necessity but, in some areas, low turnouts or usage would deem such facilities unnecessary in some locations. Therefore, an audit would be conducted to identify if such community centre were required in that area. Those deemed a necessity would receive funding while others would be considered for other projects.
12 – How would you resolve issues at the local health board that are emerging from special measures?
Cut the bureaucracy and the management system within the health board organisation. Appoint individuals who have experiences in working within the health board.
13 – What are you planning to do to help those who are finding it hard to find work?
By providing news skills training and encourage individuals to start their own businesses. I myself lost a well-paid job in a factory in December 2014. In despair, unable to find any other work with responsibilities to my children and wife I decided to start my own driving school business. It was the best decision ever! Anyone can do it; all it takes is a leap of faith.
14 – Residency controls to ‘stem the flow of retirees’ from England into Wales is mentioned in your manifesto, how big an issue do you feel that is and why?
This is a big issue, one that parties who hold their loyalty to the United Kingdom refuse to acknowledge in Wales and do nothing about it. Gwlad in the short term will.
Actively discourage the use of homes as ‘second homes or holiday lets’ by introducing a licensing scheme similar to that which currently applies to HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation). In particular:
• Any home not intended for year-round occupancy by its owner or a single legal tenant (under a legally binding tenancy agreement) – defined as being the owner or tenant’s permanent address for tax purposes – shall require a licence from the local council.
• Such a licence will run for a fixed term of a maximum of five years – shorter at the discretion of the council – and in any case require renewal when the ownership of the property changes hands.
• An application for a new licence or the renewal of a licence shall automatically be refused if the number of similarly licensed premises in the Ward exceeds 5% of the total housing stock.
• During the validity period of such a licence, a 500% Council Tax surcharge shall apply.
• These rules shall be enforced by local authorities, who shall in turn be legally required to do so. Failure to comply shall be sanctioned in similar ways to existing rules on violating HMO conditions
15 How would universal basic income, or ‘Citizens Income’ be paid for, and can you give an overview of the costing for roll out in Wales?
Gwlad is committed to a Citizens Income, but in practice it’s completely unworkable unless it’s accompanied by a Flat Tax – where everyone pays the same rate on all their income from whatever source, and their Citizens income, which they’d receive even if they were in work, would act as a rebate for any extra tax they’d have to pay out. The two reforms must go hand-in-hand, and other parties who talk about introducing a Universal Basic Income without similar tax-reform are being disingenuous. It can’t work.
Our modelling shows that, if both were introduced alongside each other, then the scheme would be cost-neutral: most people would see no significant change to their net income, and it would neither increase net public spending nor cause inflation. But it would be a lot simpler to administer than the current system, and remove many of the disincentives that the long-term unemployed currently experience when wanting to seek work.
16 Post-independence vision speaks of possible head of state options, the current monarchy, a new monarch, a exec or non-exec president. Which option would you favour and why?
Personally, I am in favour of the American Model in which a President, Congress, and judiciary share powers reserved to the national government, and the federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.
17 You categorically rule out, under any circumstances, voting for a Welsh Labour First Minister. Does that rule out a general Labour coalition with a different First Minister, and with recognition coalitions are a ‘norm’ why this firm line on that specific role?
I would not be able to work or support any other party that supports the continued governance of Wales by another country. It is illogical and undesirable if we are to see Wales as a successful entity. Only parties that are aligned to Gwlad vision that all nations should be independent would I or my part consider such allegiances.
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?
Yes. An individual should always seek the people’s confirmation to office.
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?
All funding and financing for my campaign has come from myself and nobody else.
20 – In a few lines to wrap this up, why are you the best candidate compared to your competitors?
For too long Wales has been neglected by parties and individuals who only hold one loyalty and that is to a foreign country. I am an internationalist, but this does not supersede my loyalty to Wales first. Everything I have ever done in my life is in representation of Wales, whether while competing as a boxer, MMA fighter or visiting my in-laws in Poland, Wales and how I represented Wales was at the forefront of my every action. When we think British, people assume England… I am not for England, but only Wales therefore if people vote for me in Clwyd West on the 6th of May I will serve diligently the people of Wales and the people of my constituency.