Monday, 13 July 2020

Reckless by name and Feckless by nature.Brexit party wants to Abolish the Assembly.

The news that the Brexit Party will campaign in next year's Senedd election to scrap the current system of devolution does not I expect shock anyone .

Mark Reckless, "leader" of the party's group in the Welsh Parliament, said "devolution has gone so much further" than some people thought it would.

He is proposing a directly-elected first minister and getting rid of members of the Senedd (MSs).

The last Welsh barometer poll suggested around 22% of people supported abolishing the Welsh Parliament.

But in a multiple-choice question, the highest level of support was for leaving the settlement as it is (24%), followed by a Senedd with more powers (20%) and Welsh independence (16%).

Mr Reckless speaking BBC's Politics Wales said under his plans a directly-elected first minister would be scrutinised by Welsh MPs.

He questioned the value of having the Senedd and its members in addition to MPs in Westminster.

"A lot of people who haven't engaged with devolved politics now see the powers this place has, and many of those people would prefer to be governed on a UK basis rather than having things done differently in Wales just for the sake of it, as so often has been the case under Mark Drakeford," he said.

The Brexit Party's four MSs are its biggest group of politicians now that the UK no longer has members of the European Parliament (MEPs) following its departure from the European Union.

But of course this is not Mr Reckless' first Party in the Senedd

On 27 September 2014, Reckless defected to the UK Independence Party at its party conference in Doncaster, and announced his resignation .though he was somewhat compelled to do the honourable thing and seek a by-election as  Douglas Carswell  has (successfully) done a few months before.

Mr Reckless was  also successful in keeping his seat in the by-election but lost it in the following General Election.

He then turned his eye despite having no Welsh connection (?) turned his eye  to the then Welsh Assembly

In March 2016, Reckless was announced as UKIP's lead candidate for the regional seat of South Wales East. He was elected on 5 May 2016.

On 6 April 2017, Reckless left UKIP to join the Conservative Group; however, he did not rejoin the Conservative Party. This move made the Conservative group the second-largest in the Welsh Assembly. Upon leaving, he said, 

On 14 April 2019, Reckless left the Conservative Party Group over the party's failure to deliver Brexit. He then sat as an independent member[33] before joining until the Brexit Party the following month.[6]

On 15 May 2019, Reckless stated his intention to form a new Brexit Party political group, along with Caroline Jones, Mandy Jones, and David Rowlands. He is the current leader of the Brexit Party in the Senedd.[6]

So in four years since being elected Mr Reckless has had four different affiliations UkiP/ Conservative Group/Independent and Brexit Party. and Mr Reckless said that he did not rule out a rebrand for the Brexit Party. There have been reports that leader Nigel Farage will rebrand his Brexit Party as the ‘Reform Party’ after the transition period ends.

It will be interesting the Brexit Party is more of  Farage's limited company with only him in charge , So presumably Mark Reckless is following his party leader in the Abolish policy? 

Plaid Cymru's leader hit back at Mr Reckless and said people's understanding and awareness of devolution was at a "high watermark" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Adam Price dismissed the Brexit Party's support for scrapping the devolution system as an attempt to turn Wales "into western England".

"What is the message of the Brexit Party in this regard? It's not just abolishing our democracy, it's abolishing Wales," he told the BBC's Politics Wales programme.

"Is anyone seriously, when we look to the last three months, at the more careful, reasonable, thoughtful approach that the Welsh Government has shown in recent months compared to the reckless policy, the dysfunctional policy of bumbling and blustering its way through the crisis that we've seen from Boris Johnson, do we really want to take the powers that we have to protect our people and give them to Number 10 Downing Street in these circumstances? Absolutely not."

Former First Minister  Minister Carwyn Jones was even more dismissive than Adam Price  and branded the Brexit Party “English nationalists”  the institution.

He called on them to respect the results of the 1997 and 2011 referendums to set up and give the Welsh Parliament more powers, just as they were calling on others to respect the Brexit referendum.

“Well, they always were English nats,” Carwyn Jones said in responding to the Brexit Party’s announcement.

“Scotland gets a Parliament, England gets a Parliament, NI gets a Parliament while Wales gets a Mayor. They just cannot stand the idea of Wales as a nation.

“So much for respecting the result of referendums, but let’s not forget that this is really a play to get re-elected to the Senedd by appealing to a minority in the hope of getting above 5% in his region.”

Of course the real reason for Feckless/Reckless announcement is the belief that  it can gain votes fro teh 20% or so who feel the Assembly/Senedd should be Abolished  matched by those in Wales who believe we should have simply followed the "English" government  early and reckless (no pun intended) easing of Lockdown restrictions over the boarder.

It is a crowded field Brexit Party is now one of three parties – UKIP and the Abolish the Assembly Party and a Conservative Party that has been screaming "Follow Boris"  Welsh First Minister in the Media .

The rest of Wales however has approved of the Welsh Labour Government and with Plaid Cymru finding themselves supporting how they have reacted., it may be the next Senedd election may be  less about  Abolish the Assembly how much further should devolution should go.


Cibwr said...

Presumably the Brexit party would support the retention of the Executive role of the first minister and their appointed aids, essentially like the metro mayors in England, with no legislative powers..... I just hope they fail to get a single MS in the upcoming election.

EagleDragon said...

A directly elected first minister would almost always be a Labour member, with his policies being scrutinised by Welsh MP's who are also majority Labour, isn't really that much scrutiny. Also bear in mind that by the next UK election Wales will have just 32 MPs & not 40.
Even in the last election which was one of the worst for the Labour Party they still managed to maintain a majority of Welsh seats, therefore if a non-Labour politician were to be elected as first minister there would be political gridlock, with both sides claiming a democratic mandate. This happens alot in Washington where the President (Republican) has to get his legislative program approved by congress (Democrat run).

The irony is that if the Brexit Party's proposal were ever to be implemented it would actually reinforce Labour's dominance over Welsh politics. At least the Senedd's electoral system makes it harder for them to obtain a majority & gives other parties a stronger platform. But anti-devolutionists to tend blame the Senedd rather than the Labour government.

Would the tories ever get behind such an idea? Probably not for this very reason. For them its either the status quo, less powers or a return to pre-1999. I could see Labour anti-devolutionists getting behind it though.

Hopefully though the anti-devolution vote will be split 3 ways between Abolish, UKIP & Brexit it will result in neither picking up a seat in next year.

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