Friday, 29 February 2008

Hainless transition

Guess who said this: “If both Welsh living standards and the economic competitiveness which underpins our prosperity is to grow as we all want, the private sector needs to grow very significantly, and at a relatively much faster rate.” No, it wasn’t Nick Bourne, but Peter Hain (reported in the Western Mail today).

If this analysis is true then it will represent a challenge to the Labour-Plaid coalition government which has, so far, not deviated markedly from previous Labour Assembly Government policy besides talk about referendums and conventions, which will die down if Paul Murphy has his way.

Besides more obvious 'unionist' objections one reason Murphy is keen to dampen referendum fever is to refocus Welsh Labour on its self-styled calling as effective public service managers. Welsh Labour’s 2011 appeal will be built on the idea that it is the most responsible service manager, making savings and delivering services efficiently. Plaid, on the other hand, has allowed Labour to get on with this, styling itself as a responsible alternative which will be ready for government on its own at a later date.

This strategy has brought criticism from Plaid’s stronger elements, who are concerned about key Plaid policy areas being ‘watered down’, e.g. not funding Y Byd. The problem brought by Plaid’s approach is that a party building itself as a party of government cannot be seen to in the thrall of any particular minority group, no matter how large that minority is.

Whether any of this will make a difference is still to be seen. Today’s ICM poll results show that around 60% don’t know who runs the Welsh Assembly Government. Curiously, 49% of the survey respondents said they would vote ‘yes’ in a referendum on full powers. These results might show the perils of sample-based surveys rather than reflecting the real views of the Welsh electorate. We can only hope.


Anonymous 29 February 2008 at 13:34  

why don't the opposition and media pick up on every time we have the more powers debate, Labour always says we want better public services not more devolution.

If they wanted better services Labour who have been in power for the last ten years and have had control over local government for ages should have made progress, yet we still have a poor education system and health service and large number of unemployed.

Anonymous 29 February 2008 at 14:41  

Labour's experience gap over the other parties promises to form a significant element of their local election campaigning this year.

Labour figures at their conference a fortnight ago were placing emphasis on their party's internal institutional capacity to run government as well as campaigning fiercely at elections. Labour's membership, though having halved since its' giddy height in 1997, remains substantially greater than its opponents across South Wales and the party has plans to target key seats with rersources, whilst delivering more basic campaigns in safe and hopeless areas.

They believe the contrast between the current messy coalitions and minority administrations in Bridgend, Cardiff and Swansea with the firm and steady municipal and generally socially democratic path provided by Jeff Jones, Russell Goodway and Mike Hedges/Lawrence Bailey will play to their credit with urban voters. The controversial old guard having stepped (or been pushed) aside, a new generation of councillors (Sophie Howe, David Phillips etc) promise a return to stability and efficiency with a strong hint that they would emphasise efforts to pursue progressive policies with people rather than just for them.

Those who dispute the narrative can of course point to Rhondda Cynon Taf(f) where Russell Roberts, got his revenge on Pauline Jarman to return to the Leaders office four years ago, and recently appears to have awarded his SPAD Chris Hanagan, former teaboy for Andrew Davies and the son of another RCT Cabinet member, promotion to a newly created £60k strategic oversight post suggests there are other old Labour traditions still persisting in parts of south Wales.

Anonymous 2 March 2008 at 06:17  

What it be fair to compare the absence of 2 MP's out of 3 at the Welsh Conservative conference to been the equivalent to 2 of the main company directors being absent from the company agm?

Anonymous 2 March 2008 at 23:27  

The issue of further devolution and the referendum will surely bring down this government.

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