Interview with Mark Hooper: Plaid Cymru, Cardiff Central Candidate

Mark Hooper Plaid Cymru Candidate for Cardiff Central (Source: @markjhooper via Twitter)

By Liam Ketcher

Plaid Cymru’s Cardiff Central candidate Mark Hooper, from Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan has lived in the area all of his life. As well as running in the General Election he also currently runs his business ‘Indycube’ in the centre of Cardiff. Gair Rhydd spoke to Mark to discuss all the important issues in the General Election, from devolution, to the effects of Brexit on Wales and of course Welsh independence. Mark also had the chance to emphasise why students and the people of Cardiff Central should vote for him and Plaid Cymru on June 8.

One thing that remains as Plaid Cymru’s main goal is devolution, under a Tory government we would see current powers stripped from the Welsh Assembly and taken back to Westminster. We asked Mark how important devolution was here in Wales, he said that it’s “vital and under threat at the moment”. He emphasised that Plaid Cymru’s plans are to devolve all powers to Wales, prioritising public services. With the current events of Manchester and the Tory Government making cuts to the police for example, it’s not hard to see why Mark and Plaid want this power devolved.

Another area that Mark thought that should be devolved was the media and the press, it was stated in their manifesto that Plaid Cymru will give Wales the power to decide how newspapers and television are run here in Wales. The Daily Mail and the Sun are the most read newspapers here in Wales, which are all controlled from the British capital, London, and the BBC, and they have very little Welsh content. Mark supports activities such as Nation Cymru which covers Welsh news for Welsh readers.

We also asked Mark how he would secure the correct budget for S4C, which has seen cuts since the Tories have been in power. He described it as “we have enough money to keep us a float, but not enough for us to float off.”

It’s clear to all that this election is very based on Brexit, and what kind of deal will the UK strike with Europe. Mark completely disagrees with May’s ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’, he said that “Wales’ need won’t match the need of the UK” and that it is him and Plaid Cymru which will be there at Westminster fighting the corner for Wales. By electing Plaid Cymru MPs, you’ll be able to secure a good deal for Wales in the Brexit negotiations. So much of the Welsh economy relies on funding and support from the EU, one of those things being immigration and how it supports our NHS for example. “Immigration is good” described Hooper. He added “there should be a differential strategy of freedom of movement.”

However when asked which area of the Welsh economy will suffer most from Brexit he answered agriculture. Welsh farmers will miss out on trading to EU nations if the UK are not members of the single market. He does believe that small scale manufacturing “could work with the US” for example. But for those areas of our economy that rely much on trade with Europe, such as agriculture, that is where Wales will struggle most post-Brexit.

Tourism can bring a lot of business to local areas, brilliant examples are that of the Rugby World Cup in 2015, the 2012 Olympics and even the biggest sporting event in Europe the Champions League final which only took place last weekend. Although Mark thought that tourism is “important” it isn’t his main concern. He does describe tourism as “being a first class version of ourselves”, and that Wales should be selling it’s historical attraction and protecting Welsh place names. He doesn’t believe that Welsh place names should be “sanitised or anglicized”.

Of course we were very excited to ask Mark about his views on Welsh independence. Obviously being a Plaid Cymru member he is pro Welsh independence. He thinks that “We can do it quickly; it’s like having kids. You’re never ready until you get to doing it.”

Mark is also apart of ‘Yes Caerdydd’ a branch of ‘Yes Cymru’ who campaign for Welsh independence, he described his involvement with the group as “radical views on Welsh independence.”

Mark believes that economy has stayed where it is and because Wales is the poorest part of the UK, that there is a change needed. A ‘Yes Cymru’ poll revealed that a quarter of Welsh people support Welsh independence and that this sets to increase to a third if the Conservatives increase their majority in Westminster. He continued to say that “We’ve accepted the status quo” of our situation here in Wales. We also asked him what affects Scottish independence would have on Welsh independence, and if a partnership between England and Wales would work. But he said that “We shouldn’t allow Scotland to trigger our independence.”

Before finishing our conversation, we asked Mark to tell Gair Rhydd readers why students and the people of Cardiff Central should vote for him and Plaid Cymru. In regards to students he said he would ensure that students who study in Wales and then continue to work in Wales would stop a “legacy of debt” following them after their studies.

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