Showing posts from May, 2015

Imagine if Wales had voted No to devolution in 1997

Posted on Click on Wales on May 29th 2015 Three weeks after the General Election and the implications of a five-year term for a radical Conservative majority Government are beginning to sink in. The left are dejected; Labour in particular is discombobulated. Of course this has happened before. Conservative victories through the 1980s provoked the question to be asked after 1992, ‘can Labour win?’  It is being asked again, but this time there’s a big difference – devolution. Even though there’s a considerable feeling that devolution has not achieved its promise on the economy and public services, few people mention that it has achieved its primary political objective: it has made Offa’s Dyke the line between right and left. To prove my point, consider what would have happened over the last decade and a half had 6,721 people voted differently in the 1997 referendum.  Radical Conservative policies on health, education and a raft of other domestic issues would have been implement

Yes, we can

Posted on Click on Wales on March 22nd 2015  IWA Director Lee Waters outlines the think-tank’s latest report on closing the wealth gap between Wales and England “An outsider observing our economic policies and the national debate, such as it is, would conclude the Welsh were either content with their relative position or did not believe there was anything to be done about it” – Gerald Holtham, Chair IWA Economy group. We mustn’t accept that Wales will always be the poor relation of the UK. That’s the core message of the IWA’s latest report,  An Economic Strategy for Wales? Our expert group of economists, business leaders and academics have spent the last five months analysing data and debating its recommendations for reversing Wales’ economic decline. Its conclusion is that Wales has been a ‘middling performer’ since devolution but the wealth gap with England can be closed if there is determined political leadership behind an ambitious and detailed delivery plan for growth. 

A case-study of what’s wrong, or an example of what’s right?

Posted on Click on Wales on March 15th 2015 Ahead of Tuesday’s final vote in the Assembly on the Future Generations Bill Peter Davies and Lee Waters exchange emails about the new law Last Tuesday, on the day that Assembly voted on the penultimate stage of t he Well-being of Future Generations Bill , IWA Director Lee Waters was quoted on BBC Wales saying the bill was “a case study of what’s wrong with the way we’re making laws in Wales”.  The Bill had ‘gaping holes’  in it  after key sections were removed in its committee stage but not replaced. “The reason we’ve had a slight farrago in the assembly is that there’s not enough depth of thought behind this bill and what it’s trying to do,”  Lee Waters said . “We’ve ended up with a bill that doesn’t really know what it’s about” he told the BBC. Later that day the Bill was strengthened by the Assembly and Wales’ Commissioner for Sustainable Futures and Chair of the Climate Change Commission, Peter Davies, tweeted “Disagree most stro

Should there be another referendum?

Posted on Click on Wales on March 2nd 2015 Two years ago Manchester rejected the option of a directly elected Mayor  but last week was told it would get one after all,  as well as responsibility for health and education spending of more than £6 Billion – without the need for a referendum. Wales, meanwhile, must hold a referendum on whether a small proportion of income tax powers should be under the control of the National Assembly. “The irony of that is not lost on me”  Kirsty Williams told the Liberal Democrat conference last weekend. Nick Clegg has called the parallel a ‘red herring’, whereas David Cameron flatly asserted that a promise had been given to hold another referendum in Wales, and that was that. There is no consistent rule of when and why referenda are held in the UK. For example, there has been no referendum of the UK’s membership of the EU since 1975, despite significant extra powers being passed to Brussels; plans to significantly change the workings of the Ho

The morning after the night before

Posted on Click on Wales on September 19th 2014 The result, in the end, was clear, thankfully: 55.3% thought the UK was ‘better together’, 44.7% wanted Scotland to be an Independent country. There will be much analysis of the campaign to come, but this morning the immediate question is: what next? The Prime Minister has quickly set out  the UK Government’s response.  He’s promised “a balanced settlement – fair to people in Scotland and importantly to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well”. It’s a settlement, however, that will not be addressed on a UK-wide basis.  Carwyn Jones’ prescient calls for a UK-wide Constitutional Convention do not feature in David Cameron’s thinking.  Instead, a cross-party committee is being set-up (including the SNP) under Lord Robert Smith of Kelvin (Chair of energy giant SSE who led Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games organising committee) “to oversee the process to take forward the  devolution commitments  with powers over tax, spen

Whoever wins the vote, Yes has won the campaign

Posted on Click on Wales on September 18th 2014 Only a fool predicts the future, and with polls consistently showing that the outcome is within the margin of statistical error, it would take a particularly foolish fool to call this one. Just a month ago YouGov found that only 35% of people planned to vote for Scottish Independence, but four weeks on and the Yes campaign is within touching distance of victory. Even if there is a No vote Scotland will get extra powers and protected spending, and the SNP will have secured a launchpad for a successful General Election campaign, a continued majority at Holyrood and a very strong base to trigger another independence referendum within a generation. So whoever wins the vote, Yes Scotland can be said to have won the campaign. How have they done it?  They’ve run a campaign that has stayed faithful to the progressive playbook: hope, not fear; the future, not the past; and a local grassroots campaign. In a much more modest way the 201