Given Labour’s comprehensive victory only a fortnight ago in the local elections and the gloating, mocking and general rubbishing by many Labour members of Plaid Cymru and its leader Leanne Wood for their election results, it’s surprising to see such a hard hitting reaction by the head of Wales largest trade union Unite and Labour stalwart Andy Richards to a meeting Leanne Wood had with PCS trade union representatives this week as part of her drive to form a ‘progressive alliance against the Tory cuts’.
Not only did Andy Richards rubbish Leanne’s meeting as ‘an opportunistic publicity stunt’ but said Plaid Cymru weren’t Trade Union friendly, weren’t the party of working people in Wales and Unite were the ones who were leading the fight against the UK Government. He went on to say that Plaid Cymru questioning the Wales Union Learning Fund, money given by the Welsh Government to trade unions to improve basic skills for Union members was the same as Tory spin - all of that could be easily rebutted if Plaid Cymru chose to but why bother with such crass distortions of reality.
Andy Richards also failed to mention that all opposition parties including the Lib Dems have questioned that money for Trade Unions Learning Fund and it’s best not to talk about outcomes for the cash because things could get embarrassing for Welsh Ministers and besides you can imagine Labour’s reaction if the Tories were giving money to a business trade body to improve skills of their members.
After an uncomfortable fortnight Plaid Cymru must be pleased the focus is on them for more positive reasons and the strength of wording and timing of the statement coming as Leanne Wood appeared on Question Time last night is telling, but unless Leanne and Plaid Cymru can turn their support from the PCS and other unions into votes or financial backing at elections then it will only ever be symbolic support and Plaid Cymru members will wonder if it’s worth the effort longer term if Labour keep on reaping the benefits of this particular relationship.