ADAM PRICE MP
Adam Price, Plaid Cymru Member of Parliament for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, 2001 - 2010.
Adam Price was born on 23th September 1968 in Ammanford, the son of a coal miner and former professional boxer. He was educated at Amman Valley Comprehensive School. In 2001 he broke the eighty-year old stranglehold the Labour Party had over politics in the Ammanford area when he was elected as the Member of Parliament for the East Carmarthenshire and Dinefwr constituency, standing for Plaid Cymru (the Welsh Nationalist Party). He then increased his majority at the 2005 general election. He had also stood unsuccessfully in the 1992 general election for the seat of Gower, Swansea, a Labour stronghold since 1906.
Plaid Cymru were assisted in their electoral success by a fortuitous boundary change in 1997 which saw industrial and Labour-voting Llanelli removed from the consituency and replaced with the farming and Welsh speaking Towy valley area. This lingusitic and demographic change thus shifted the political balance considerably and Adam Price and Plaid Cymru were well placed to take advantage.
Price belongs to Plaid Cymru's left-wing and has said of himself "I was a socialist before I was a nationalist". His father's mining background and Price's socialist rhetoric endeared him to the former mining area in the south of the consituency while his Welsh-speaking, nationalist credentials brought in the rural vote in the north.
Adam Price was the second Ammanford-born man to be elected for his home constiuency, after Betws-born James Griffiths (1890-1974) who represented the constituency for the Labour Party from 1936 until his retirement in 1970. Another locally-born man, Ivor Richard from Betws, represented the London constituency of Baron's Court for Labour from 1964 until 1974, before being elevated to the House of Lords as Lord Ammanford in 1990. Josiah Towyn Jones was the minister for New Bethel Independent chapel in Glanamman before becoming the Liberal MP for our consituency from 1912 to 1922, though as he was originaly from New Quay in Cardiganshire we can't claim him as Ammanford-born as we can our other MPs. And when Adam Price stood down at the 2010 general election yet another Ammanford-born man, Jonathan Edwards, was elected as his successor.
In these days of 'parachute' politics, where complete outsiders are usually imposed on consituencies by party functionaries, it is becoming increasingly rare for locally-born people to represent their electorate in the corridors of power.
Both James Griffiths and Ivor Richard were cabinet members in post-war Labour governments, though the future has yet to speak on how high Adam Price can climb up the politcal greasy pole.
Plaid Cymru (literally, the Party of Wales) will be unfamiliar to anyone not Welsh, so here is a brief history. Plaid Cymru is a minority political party in Wales, representing just three of the country's forty parliamentary constituencies in the House of Commons. Its stronghold is in the western, Welsh-speaking, counties, and although it has had some success in local council elections in the English-speaking east, its identification with the Welsh language has held back any lasting success in non-Welsh speaking regions.
It has had more success in Welsh Assembly elections, but it is still a minority party in its own country's elected body, with just fifteen out of sixty seats in the 2007 Welsh Assembly elections (21 percent of all votes cast). These fifteen Assembly seats, however, make it the second largest political presence in Wales in 2007, resulting in Plaid Cymru being asked to form a coalition government with Labour. As only twenty percent of Wales's 2.9 million population speak Welsh, Plaid Cymru's identification with the Welsh language is a serious handicap. In Scotland, by contrast, where Gaelic is spoken by only a tiny minority, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has become the majority party, unhindered by any language issue.
Plaid Cymru was formed on 5th August 1925 though it had to wait for the 1966 general election before their first member of parliament, Gwynfor Evans, was elected for the Carmarthen constituency. Initially, home rule for Wales was not an explicit aim of the new movement; keeping Wales Welsh-speaking took primacy, with the aim of making Welsh the only official language of Wales. Plaid Cymru's high point, at least in UK elections, was 1997 when four MPs were elected with 9.9 percent of the votes cast in Wales. The largest share of Welsh votes in a general election was in 2001 when they received 14.3 percent of all votes cast in Wales. Elections for the first-ever Welsh Assembly in 1999 saw 17 Assembly members elected with 30 percent of the Wales vote, their best-ever performance.
Aims of the Party. Plaid Cymru has five stated aims:
- To promote the constitutional advancement of Wales with a view to attaining independence for Wales within the European Union.
- To ensure economic prosperity, social justice and the health of the natural environment, based on decentralist socialism.
- To build a national community based on equal citizenship, respect for different traditions and cultures and the equal worth of all individuals, whatever their race, nationality, gender, colour, creed, sexuality, age, ability or social background.
- To create a bilingual society by promoting the revival of the Welsh language.
- To promote Wales's contribution to the global community and to attain membership of the United Nations.
Independence for Wales has been a somewhat on/off aim for Plaid Cymru who at times in the past have shied away from the independence issue. It's interesting, though, to note that Plaid Cymru can happily and openly use the word socialism in its aims, a word more usually associated with the Labour Party, but conspicuously absent from the aims of New Labour in recent years. A BBC Wales/ICM poll in 2009 indicated that only eight percent of voters wanted an independent Wales within the European Union, revealing that Plaid Cymru has some way to go in closing the large gap between their own aspirations and the current wishes of the Welsh people.
Adam Price studied at Cardiff University, gaining a BA in European Community Studies in 1991. From 1991-3, he was a research associate at the Cardiff University's department of City and Regional Planning. From 1993-8, he worked for Menter a Busness (Enterprise and Business) being an executive director from 1996-8. He also studied at Saarland University in Saarbrücken in western Germany. From 1998, he was the Managing Director of the Newidiem-Economic Development Consultancy (part of Menter a Business). Price is openly gay.
He stood down from his parliamentary seat at the 2010 general election to pursue a year-long postgraduate course in business studies at the prestigious Harvard university, Massechusetts, USA. He went off on a Fullbright scholarship, following in the footsteps of Rhodri Morgan, Charles Kennedy and a whole host of other future UK politicans.
Price is still young, and his popularity and talents should ensure a smooth return to Welsh politics should he choose. Price, who is widely regarded as a future leader of Plaid Cymru, has stated that his intention is to stand for election to the Welsh Assemby in Cardiff and not re-election to the UK parliament in Westminster.
Mr Price said "the time is ripe for change" after two terms at Westminster. In a statement, Mr Price said he was "incredibly honoured" to represent his seat. But he added: "I do not think it would be right to return to Westminster at the next election when my passion is in Wales and at the assembly. My aim will be to seek nomination and stand for election in 2011 as part of Plaid Cymru's assembly team."
Price's replacement as Plaid Cymru MP for the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr seat at Westminster is Jonathan Edwards, another local man, who was born and raised in the mining village of Capel Hendre just two miles from Ammanford. Before being elected to replace Adam Price in the 2010 general election Edwards worked as chief of staff for Welsh Assembly leader Rhodri Morgan (Labour) and Adam Price (Plaid Cymru) for seven years where he led on political matters for both elected members. Adam Price kept a high media profile during his time as MP and the future, as ever, is silent on whether Jonathan Edwards can emulate this feat. Watch this space, as they say.
Adam Price has acquired a reputation as a campaigning member of parliament.
The Mittal Affair: "Cash for Influence"
Controversy erupted in 2002 as Price exposed the link between UK prime minister Tony Blair and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal in the Mittal Affair, also known as 'Garbagegate' or Cash for Influence. Mittal's LNM steel company, registered in the Dutch Antilles and maintaining less than 1% of its 100,000 plus workforce in the UK, sought Blair's aid in its bid to purchase Romania 's state steel industry. The letter from Blair to the Romanian government, a copy of which Price was able to obtain, hinted that the privatisation of the firm and sale to Mittal might help smooth the way for Romania's entry into the European Union. The letter had a passage in it removed just prior to Blair's signing of it, describing Mittal as "a friend."
Mittal, already a Labour contributor, donated £125,000 more to Labour party funds a week after the 2001 UK General Elections, while as many as six-thousand of Welsh steelworkers were laid off that same year, Price and others pointed out. Mittal's company, then the fourth largest in the world, was a "major global competitor of Britain's own struggling steel industry, Corus, formerly known as British Steel." Corus and Valkia Limited were two of the primary employers in South Wales, particularly in Ebbw Vale, Llanwern, and Port Talbot.
Opposition to Iraqi conflict
On 25th August 2004, Price announced his intention to begin a process of impeachment against Tony Blair, with the backing of all Plaid Cymru and Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) MPs. Impeachment had not been used in the UK for one-hundred and fifty years. If successful, it could have seen Blair tried before the House of Lords; however, as expected, the measure failed.
On 17th March 2005 Price was ejected from the Commons chamber after accusing the Prime Minister of having "misled" Parliament and then refusing to withdraw his comment, in violation of the rules of the House.
On 5th May 2005 he was re-elected MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr with an increased majority (17.5%).
On 31st October 2006, Adam Price opened a three-hour debate on an inquiry into the Iraq War, the first such debate in over two years. The SNP and Plaid Cymru motion proposing a committee of seven senior MPs to review "the way in which the responsibilities of government were discharged in relation to Iraq", was defeated by 298 votes to 273, a Government majority of 25, but was supported by a significant number of opposition MPs, and twelve "rebel" Labour MPs, including double-Oscar-winning actress turned MP, Glenda Jackson.
Stance on drugs
Writing in the Welsh language current affairs magazine Barn (Opinion) in April 2007, Price criticised UK government policy on drugs, indicating his support for their legalisation under medical supervision.
Broadcast news controversy
In August 2007 Price threatened to withhold future television license fees in response to a lack of thorough news coverage of Wales, echoing a BBC Audience Council for Wales July report citing public frustration over how the Welsh Assembly is characterized in national media. Plaid Assembly Member Bethan Jenkins agreed with Price and called for responsibility for broadcasting to be devolved to the Welsh Assembly, voicing similar calls from Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond. Criticism of the BBC's news coverage for Wales and Scotland since devolution prompted debate of possibly providing evening news broadcasts with specific focus for both countries.
2007 Assembly elections spending
Following the 2007 Welsh Assembly elections, a UK parliamentary standards and privileges committee found Plaid MPs Price, Elfyn Llwyd, and Hywel Williams guilty of improperly advertising during the elections. As Members of Parliament for the UK House of Commons they had no direct involvement in the Welsh Assembly elections but were found to have improperly used their House of Commons funding to assist Plaid Cymru during the Welsh elections. Though the committee admitted the three did not break any clear rules of the UK House of Commons, the committee believed the timing of the adverts were planned to coincide with the Assembly elections.
Parliamentary funds are available for MPs to communicate with constituents regularly. However, the committee found that the three used this communication allowance improperly as part of Plaid Cymru's campaigning during the Welsh Assembly elections, as the adverts were placed in publications with a circulation outside of their respective constituencies.
Of the committee findings, Plaid Cymru MP group leader Elfyn Llwyd said that they would comply with the findings of the committee, but that they had "... acted in good faith throughout, and fully in line with the advice that was offered to us by the DFA (Department of Finance and Administration) at the time of the publication of the reports". The three had to repay the money, about five thousand pounds each, and report the costs as part of Plaid Cymru's election spending.
Spokesperson and Committees
From 14th July 2005 Adam Price was been a member of the House of Commons Culture, Media & Sport Committee. Adam Price is Plaid Cymru's spokesperson for Communities and Local Government; Culture, Media and Sport; Defence; Transport. (Since 7th Jan 2009).
In August 2007 Adam Price began a regular column in the weekly Welsh-language current affairs magazine Golwg (View). Examples of the subject matter of these columns include Welsh independence; nuclear energy; scrapping the Welsh Office; education; Welsh media and US politics.
Adam Price's Parliamentary record (theyworkforyou.com)
History of Plaid Cymru (Wikipedia)
Date this page last updated: September 24, 2010