My name is Hugh Kocan and I am Plaid Cymru’s candidate for Monmouth in the 2021 Senedd elections
I am 23, born and raised in Abergavenny. I have studied at both Swansea and Cardiff University, focusing on economics and the economy of Wales. I have been heavily involved with the party since 2015, including serving on the NEC of Plaid Cymru’s youth branch.
I was first inspired to get involved in politics by Leanne Wood during the 2015 general election. Her message that Wales could flourish, despite the years of struggle and underfunding, motivated me to put my effort towards building a stronger Wales. It is this ambition that encouraged me to run here in Monmouth
I fully believe that Wales has the potential to be a strong independent country. One that cares for all it’s citizens, regardless of background. One where the services that people use every day are run and managed by those who use them. A country that puts the needs of its people first and foremost.
I believe the Covid crisis brought to light the incomparable value of community. Across Monmouthshire, people are volunteering to help all those in need. Giving up their time to make a difference in their community. A community where people are connected and are able to rely upon one another is the basis for a strong country.
Personally, I am incredibly proud of my hometown, and I have always been keen to lend my time to different causes. Be it helping with the local litter picking group, or picking up essentials for people shielding during Covid. It is this kind of community action that makes our towns and villages such fantastic places to live.
However, in recent years, this sense of community has waned and shrunk. Our young people are leaving in their hundreds because opportunity is almost non-existent in our local towns. We so often talk about choice in where we can study or live, that we forget that many do not have a choice to come back to their hometown.
Our town centres used to be full of locally owned businesses that served the community, ones that we could be proud of. Now they are littered with chain shops owned by large corporations that do not pay their fair share of tax.
The same big business who refuse to contribute economically are the same ones pushing to reopen early during the Covid crisis. They are putting their own economic greed over the safety and health of their workers.
Furthermore, with so much development being centred around Cardiff, people's leisure time is severely limited. Abergavenny and Chepstow are increasingly becoming commuter towns, meaning people spend more time stuck on the M4 than with their friends and family. I personally spend two hours every day travelling to and from Cardiff, and my opportunity to join a local sports team or volunteer is hampered because of it. This is an experience all too common for people my age.
All this is coupled with a right-wing government in Westminster that fuels the fire of a toxic, jingoistic nationalism. Their rhetoric and actions demonise minority groups and portray the support of basic human rights as a “lefty-liberal snowflake culture.” If we want to build a Wales we can be proud of, we need to address the many inequalities still present in our society and stamp out those who seek to keep them in place
Devolution provides us with some defence against these harms, but the Labour-led Welsh Government do far too little in recent years.
In the 21 years Labour has been in government, we have seen massive stagnation. Our transport network is massively disjointed. Education standards have not improved. Their economic planning is based around attracting investment from large corporations, rather than growing local business. Local authorities are underfunded. Our policymaking and economy have become centralised around Cardiff, leaving many in rural areas feeling left in the dark. Opposition to the Senedd is growing due to these failings.
The Welsh government’s response to Covid has been slow and full of errors. Be it sending thousands of letters containing details of vulnerable people to the wrong address, or consistently missing their own testing target. Labour have shown they are not fit to run Wales.
With an inept Labour government in Cardiff and a disastrous Conservative government in London, Plaid Cymru offers a way forward.
My message for the people of Monmouth is one of connection.
Connection through developing a strong local economy by investing and supporting local business and agriculture over multinational corporations
Connection through investment in a cooperatively run, not for profit transport network
Connection through improving broadband coverage in Monmouth to help businesses grow, and to encourage people to work locally, rather than in Cardiff.
Connection through supporting citizen’s assemblies, and bringing power closer to the people
Connection through fighting inequality and intolerance to create a fairer society
Connection through supporting young people in finding affordable housing and employment
We need to reconnect and rebuild our communities. Only a Plaid Cymru Government in the Senedd can achieve that. Only a Plaid Cymru MS in Monmouth can connect our communities again.
If you would like to get involved and help the campaign in Monmouth, please sign up here