Sunday, 15 February 2015

Labour offer Wales not Devo/Max but Devo/Dipyn Bach

As the Welsh Branch of Labour  met in Swansea  they were addressed by their leader Ed Miliband,
Despite the headlines in the Unionist Media Miliband seems to be offering Wales only piecemeal devolution of the sort we have had over the last 15 years.
There was no Devomax just Devo/Dipyn bach
We should be grateful that  Mr Miliband let it be known that he favoured changing the name of the Assembly to the Welsh Parliament, saying that with Labour in power at Westminster it would play “a greater role in the lives of the Welsh people”.

He said it would have power over “ports, elections, energy and a greater say over policing.”
He said.  
“I believe the Welsh people should have the power to decide who gets to choose their representatives and how it is that they choose their representatives. So powers over elections in Wales should be in the hands of the Parliament.
Fair enough though we may need to see the detail's But  of course Mr Miliband is probably confident that  Labour will dominate the Assembly/Parliament  for the foreseeable future.
He said
This means that Wales will be able to choose to extend the franchise, as they did in Scotland for the referendum (by lowering the voting age to 16).
 Moving on  He said

And it also means more powers over public services. An all-Wales policing plan drawn up with the Home Secretary, giving the Welsh people responsibility to shape policing in Wales.
So basically the Home Secretary at Westminster will will  have a Veto on this . Imagine the reaction in Scotland if the sort of powers promised in "The Vow " contained the byline as long as we can still say no.

Miliband was maybe better on Energy
“And the Welsh people should have the power to determine what energy projects are right for Wales. Wales already has the highest energy prices in the UK. You have seen the greatest increase in prices of anywhere in the country. That can’t be right.
“So my government will freeze energy prices until 2017, so they can only fall and not rise, helping over a million households in Wales. And give the energy watchdog the power to force companies to pass on falls in wholesale prices.”
 Though he didn't explain why he told his PMs not to back the Plaid,SNP,Green Westminster vote calling for a monetarism  on fracking.

The Labour leader renewed a pledge to ensure Wales was not disadvantaged by the Barnett Formula, which determines the size of the Treasury grant to the Assembly, and which experts have said underfunds Wales by £300m a year.
Though of course it could simply mean reforming the Barnett Formula so Scotland doesn't benefit so the pot is reduced and Wales doesn't get any money.
Years ago there would be dissent in the ranks in  and we may have seen some calls for Labour to stop signing up to the Tory/LibDem Austerity project.

In advance of the conference or should it be called a rally?, Plaid Cymru  released voting records showing how Labour failed to support a catalogue of “progressive” positions in the current Parliament.
When Plaid voted against the Welfare Reform Bill that brought in benefit cuts, Labour abstained.
Labour backed a cap on the welfare budget and one year ago abstained on a vote to halt further public spending cuts and establish a commission on the effects of austerity.
So nothing from Ed Miliband or Carwyn Jones at Swansea yesterday that a Labour Government  at Westminster only offer is Devo/Dipyn Bach and more austerity.

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