Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The Welsh Assembly needs to start wearing long trousers?.

Now in my sixties I can remember the time after much argument when I moved at the age of elven from short trousers to long ones.

It was symbol that I was growing up coinciding with me  leaving Junior School and entering the Grammar School.

it may have been symbolic but it was a major event in my life and I shudder to think what would have awaited me on my first day as the only boy in short trousers in Ponty Grammar.

There was a rather curious article on Clic on Wales Yesterday's by Anne Wareham  asks whether there should  moratorium  on devolution in Wales to concentrate on performance?

Ms Wareham is described as " writer who works for the Telegraph, the Spectator and various garden magazines and is author of ‘The Bad Tempered Gardener’^

Perhaps its  my lack of intellect but I found it difficult (as with many articles om Click on Wales) to entirely grasp Wareham's

take this pasage

Sadly, anyone given a little power finds they would like a whole lot more and can always find excellent reasons why they should have it. So there’s quite an impetus politically behind decentralising more, even if across Wales, we’re being told that services are better in England.
Wales has its own particular problems: a one party state. Where the only choice is between a left wing nationalist party and a left wing nationalist party,  (my emphasis) )and )we begin to see arrogance and complacency. Where politicians, national or local, see their seats under threat they do genuinely appear more responsive and thoughtful than those full of the confidence of power under their belts.
But this is unlikely to matter much to the general population. It is easy to create fixed and determined loyalties, even by arbitrarily dividing a group of humans into Group A and Group B. Add in a sense of imbalance and bad feeling and Groups A and B will develop an antipathy which will be hard to ever shift. If Group A’s health service is poor it will still be seen by all Group A members to be ‘our health service’ and the problems overlooked until they come to a bed in your house.


Who can call Labour a Left Wing Nationalist Party (Maybe  she meant Unionist rather than Nationalist)
It is the Tories who are the Opposition Party in the Assembly.

Ms Wareham seems to be arguing in part that we should consider a Monetarism because one party is dominant .

But  even if I you were to accept a  moratorium on Devolution.  How are we supposed to decide when we can move  on again with  even Devo//Dipyn Bach?

Admittedly news that  Schoolchildren in the valleys have the lowest reading and numeracy levels in Wales, gives ammunition to Devo sceptics

The BBC found that Pupils from schools in Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Torfaen scored the lowest results in last year's English language reading and numeracy tests.

Education experts said the skills gap between the most and least deprived areas is failing to get narrower.

But we should ask "how does this compare with similar deprived areas  in the UK.

Similarly  with the welsh NHS should we be looking at co,caparisons with ourselves and similar Social Economic English Regions?

But at the end of the day under the moratorium argument  who will judge the performance and decide can move on   another stage.

5 years of Decreasing NHS waiting Times
5 years of Wales rising in the Pisa Education Tables

I accept that Welsh devolution has to some extent failed but I would argue that it is the fault of Devo//Dipyn Bach.

After all if you keep a boy in short trousers when his peers have been in long ones for quite a while can you rally expect him to behave like a  responsible adult.?


  1. Click on Wales has become more tabloid since its new Director took over, it’s like they are looking to create controversy all the time.

    Yet another right wing commentator deliberately rubbishing devolution when their target should be the Labour Government's running of health, education and economy all while the Labour Party is happy to see devolution trashed because they can play the victim card and claim it's an attack on Wales from baby eating Tories, knowing full well the majority of their party never believed in devolution anyway, it was meant to keep them in unchallenged power for ever.

  2. In truth there has been only 'one choice' for elections to Westminister since Tony Blair became labour leader - and cosyed up to the city of london and quickly dumped anything egalitarian the labour party had ever believed in, yet Ms Wareham doesnt call for any moratorium's there.

    Indeed it's been a curious feature of the welsh assembly's life that throughout it's still short existence it never seems to be afforded the same regard and due aknowlegement as other democratically nationally elected chambers around the uk and the world..

    A good example of this is the fact it's still customary for pollsters in wales to ask the question 'do you want to see the welsh assembly abolished'? Why do these polling companies feel the need to even ask this question? They would never ask the public in wales ' do you want to see the westminister parliament abolished? Yet it still seems accepted practice to ask this question in wales almost 20 years after the devolution referendum, and after the welsh people surely gave a strong endorsement of devolution in the 2011 'powers' referendum.

    Regarding literacy and numeracy tables in wales you are of course right glyn - and as we pointed out in our comments on health on your blog last week - that socio economic factors have to be taken into account when considering figures like this. Are literacy and numeracy levels lower in the valleys because children there are less able? Certainly not! Are they lower because there's a clear link between social deprivation an educational attainment - most defintely!

    But what is invariably missing from this debate of course when commentators are looking for someone to blame for these figures is that the welsh assembly doesnt have the powers - macroeconomic in particular - which are really needed to address these ongoing problems of economic deprivation in parts of wales. Though successive welsh governments could perhaps have spent european objective one funds more wisely in this respect it must be said.

    Indeed it's the wanton squandering of these european funds in the last 15 years by successive welsh government's which suggests that a bigger 'slice' from westminister wont necessarily improve much in this respect - be far more effective in the long term for wales to have the economic levers that are needed to tackle long term poverty in our country.

    Then all we'll need to do is find some good socialist economists.