Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Welsh Assembly needs real powers not a cosmetic name change.

In the early days of devolution, the,Comedian Bill Bailley,  told a joke reflecting on the fact that Scotland now had a Parliament and Wales an Assembly.
He quipped.

Imagine a meeting in Cardiff
The Speaker''
"Today we will have a debate led by Plaid Cymru on Valleys regeneration , But first this nice Policeman wants to talk to you about how to cross the road safely". 
It somewhat reflects the feeling that  our Assembly even by name is inferior to a Parliament.

After Labour leader Ed Miliband’s speech at the weekend, there speculation  name change on the cards for the National Assembly for Wales?

Labour has made it known it would allow the Assembly to change its own name if the party wins the next election.

Currently any re-brand would require moves in Westminster, but Assembly presiding officer Rosemary Butler says she expects Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb to reflect the growing consensus on the issue of sovereignty, saying it should be up to the Assembly to decide its own name, its elections and rules.

She says there is a “strong case to change the name” in light of increased tax and borrowing powers.

The Wasting Mule recenty said "Eyebrows were raised across Welsh politics in January when David Cameron directly referred to the Assembly as the “Welsh Parliament” in Prime Minister’s Questions" . But this may well have been due to the fact that the assembly does not loom large in the Prime Ministers mind.

Then, in Swansea on Saturday, Mr Miliband referred to the Assembly as a Parliament during his speech to the Welsh Labour Conference.

He told the BBC

When you’ve got a body that is passing laws, that can raise some taxes, that is going to have charge of elections as I announced... indeed, in terms of what it calls itself as well, I think it’s a Parliament in all but name,”

But what do we mean by this anyway .

When you think about it the term "National" Assembly admits Wales is a Nation and in Quebec the Legislature   is called The National Assembly of Quebec (FrenchAssemblée nationale du Québec) has powers Scotland can only dream about.

Another Comedian Billy Connolly who perhaps was reflecting his journey to British establishment figure once said
I don't want a Stormont. I don't want a wee pretendy government in Edinburgh.
— on the prospective Scottish Parliament; often quoted as 'a wee pretendy Parliament'; interview on Breakfast With Frost (BBC TV), 9 February 1997

Maybe  Dafydd Elis-Thomas as a point
“A National Assembly is a democratic body often established in revolutionary circumstances,” he said, citing France’s Assemblée Nationale. He said the etymology of the word Parliament “is drawn from those who were parleying with the king. It comes from a different tradition.”“Why call something by a name that is even more confusing? We have a Scottish Parliament, a UK Parliament, a European Parliament.“I think the National Assembly for Wales indicates that it is a democratic body established by the people of Wales for themselves.”But he agrees that the name, together with powers over elections, its own constitution and everything about the Assembly’s functions should be in the hands of AMs.

Renaming the Asembly a Parliament   would not prevent Welsh Devolution  being as Leanne Wood recently said "Third Rate."

But why  should we  use English,French or Latin terms anyway

Dáil Éireann is the lower house, and principal chamber, of the Oireachtas (Irish legislature), which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann (the upper house.

Can't we come up with a Welsh word that reflects our identity through our legislature?

Whatever happens it is more important that we get parity with Scotland over powers  rather than a name change which may inflate the ego's of those sitting in Cardiff Bay but delivers still leads it a third rate legislature. 

1 comment:

  1. totally agree, a more cynical view would be that with so little interest in the Assembly and it's business, Labour changing the name would allow the party to portray the Assembly as being more powerful than it is (making laws and a few taxes devolved) and rebutting further calls for devolution.