Monday, 21 September 2020

Labour hypocrisy over power grab is staggering.

Labour's shadow Welsh secretary Nia Griffith hmay be right that claims  of UK ministers spending more in Wales is "delusional", but it is clearly dishonest th criticise anew draft law that would give UK ministers the power to spend on areas otherwise devolved. When it was a Welsh2 Labour Government  that handed these powers back to Westminster in the firasst place.

BBC Wales report that

MPs have been debating a new draft law that would give UK ministers the power to spend on areas otherwise devolved.

Ms Griffith said it was "laughable to see Tory MPs talk about spending" and raised concerns this would lead to Welsh Government budget cuts in future.

But Welsh Secretary Simon Hart insisted these powers would mean "more money coming into Wales".

The Internal Market Bill would transfer powers from the EU to the UK government to spend on areas such as economic development, infrastructure and sport.

The Welsh Government has accused its UK counterpart of "stealing powers" from devolved governments.

But UK ministers said the law would allow them to replace existing EU funding programmes.

This aspect of the bill has divided Welsh MPs in the House of Commons where it has been debated this week.

Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones called it a "weak attempt at ripping up the devolution settlement", but Conservative MP Stephen Crabb said the UK government using these powers to spend in all parts of the United Kingdom "certainly isn't a controversial thing, if you're a unionist".

Plaid Cymru MP Ben Lake said UK ministers had "failed to make the most of the powers they already have" in Wales.


Ms Griffith told BBC Politics Wales there were "a fair few projects, like electrification in Wales, where we just haven't seen the Tories get on and spend the money" as previously promised.

"If you look at the devolved budget, what has actually happened over the last 10 years is the Tories have cut and cut and cut.

"This is absolutely delusional. It's laughable to see Tory MPs talking about spending when we know that's actually not what they've been doing.

"What this bill would actually allow would be for UK government ministers to interfere in something that is clearly devolved.

"It would allow the UK government to decide if they wanted to spend money on something and then, of course, what they'd turn around and do is say 'we've done that bit of spending, so we're going to take that out of the budget'.

"What would be left for us to choose how to spend in Wales would be considerably less.

"It'll be utter chaos not knowing from one year to the next what money is going to be available. Councils need to plan, people need to know what budgets are."

It is over two years ago that the National in Scotland told us of their concerns.

SO is Scotland isolated now that Wales has accepted a Brexit deal with Theresa May? Maybe. But we are where we always are within the Celtic sisterhood – leading from the front for a proper not a patsy agreement about the division of powers post Brexit. And since the powers and divvy up are vital for the proper functioning of the Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast parliaments, you could say the Scottish Government is fighting for the future of devolution. Ironic, eh?

Wales’ Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford says the deal his government has signed means powers in areas “currently devolved remain devolved”. That’s grand. But unless Cardiff has a guarantee Edinburgh’s not yet seen, the crucial little word “consent” is missing and the deal they’ve agreed with Westminster means Theresa May can dabble in Welsh affairs for the next seven years.

Now that’s a scary enough prospect – but there’s a worse one. Theresa could soon be elbowed out of the way by Boris or the Barking Rees-Mogg. Imagine how much time either of them would lavish on areas of shared responsibility with Edinburgh.

Anyway, the Welsh Government will now repeal the Continuity Bill, leaving the Scottish Government to stand alone defending its own version before the judges of the UK Supreme Court, probably in June. Plans are for a Joint Ministerial Committee in London next week where Mike Russell will propose another compromise, but Whitehall sources say their current offer is now final, since further change would only jeopardise the deal just struck with Cardiff.

So what is occurring in Wales?

With no offence to our Welsh cousins, their constitutional clout and their enthusiasm for home rule have never hit the same levels as the Scots. The referendum that established their Assembly in 1997 was won by just 0.6 per cent – and from the start the Welsh didn’t have the tax-raising powers won by the Scots.

Despite every conceivable wheel falling off the cart at Westminster, Plaid Cymru has only recently started to advocate independence – for many years they’ve settled for greater devolved powers. That’s because the size of the Welsh population and its close integration with England poses big practical problems.

The Welsh Assembly presided over a Leave vote in Wales – the only one of the devolved nations or regions (including London) not to vote Remain. That’s testimony to the way in which Welsh politics and society still shadows England. According to Daniel Evans of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research: “Hardly any of the people we speak to in our research know anything about the EU dividend to Wales or the implications of Brexit for Wales.

“Instead they focus primarily on British issues such as immigration. This reflects the diet of media in Wales, which is the same as England. Scotland of course has its own media, a left-wing party in charge, and revived engagement in politics since the independence referendum.”

And there’s a final point. The man who made the deal with David Davis, Mark Drakeford, has just announced his intention to stand for the job of Welsh Labour leader, days after the veteran Labour leader Carwyn Jones (the architect of the defiant Continuity Bill strategy) said he was going to quit. Drakeford is a man with a mission – to make headlines in Wales. He’s done that – but he may soon regret not taking a tougher stand and a longer view.

So Wales basically lacks the smeddum, history and democratic mandate to stand up to London. Maybe that explains their decision to take an early bath.

Unionist-dominated Northern Ireland has also pulled its punches in arguments with Westminster, and whilst the current First Minister Arlene Foster looks well capable of flattening any louche London Tory that gets in her way, she’s somewhat constrained by being a Brexiteer herself as well as the woman who sold her party’s soul for £1 billion investment in the province.

Now Welsh Labour seem to have woken up to the repercussions of their failure to put on a united from with the other devolved powers two years ago.

I don't agree with Ms Griffiths that the Tories won't increase spending in Wales or rather, they will spend money on projects  that are either the wrong choice like the M4 bypass or  don't need like new prisons and reduce the Senedd budget accordingly.

Of course there are still voices in Welsh Labour who would like the Senedd to be reduced in power or even abolishes fearing that we could see a repeat in Scotland where they are replaced, by a party that not only uses its powers but demands more on the road to independence.

There are many even maybe a majority in Welsh Labour that wish for parity with Scotland , but even they are concentrated on getting a Labour Government in Scotland than obtaining the change they want now.

The news that hundreds of Scots miners who received criminal convictions during the bitter strike of the 80s are set to be pardoned following an independent review established by the Scottish Government has proposed the move, which would also cover miners who have since died.

This led to this tweet from a "Welsh" Labour MS

And when justice is finally devolved the will also pardon our miners.
Quote Tweet
MickAntoniw MS
“These people were innocent and victims of a political war waged by the Thatcher government. This is an opportunity to right a historical wrong and deliver justice.”…

Does this mean a call for devolving justice to the Senedd will be in the 2021 Labour Manifesto for the Senedd.

Don't hold your breath.


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