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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Fighting for Wales

There is an interesting article in this morning's Guardian from Hywel Williams about Tony Blair and Wales. It discusses not so much Tony Blair's attitude to the Welsh as his sense of powerlessness as the devolution process moved forward out of his control. It has been inspired by the publication of the diary of his former press aide Lance Price and in particular the Prime Minister's reaction as the election results came in for the first Assembly elections.

It's a difficult experience when you're used to getting your way and start encountering resistance. The decision by the Welsh electorate not to give the Labour party a majority in the elections for the new assembly must have seemed quite unaccountable to big daddy - as well as an act of ingratitude. For decades the smiling, compliant songsters next door had always been well up for it: voting how they were told to and delivering cartload majorities for Labour. They didn't ask for much in return from English Labour or from England itself - just a few pious cliches about the glory of Keir and the grandiosity of Nye would do very nicely.

Hywel is convinced that part of Blair's anger is rooted in the cultural differences between England and Wales. I am not so sure. The Welsh people did not reject Labour in 1999 because they wanted to reassert their Welshness, they did so because having been given some control over their own destiny they were not going to let some control freak in London take it away from them.
And who gave Wales devolution in the first place?

BTW, I was quite disappointed that your attack on me in today’s Evening post was based around a post on the inside Swansea council website. Couldn’t you have written something original? Or maybe the piece on that blog was in fact, your own?
If you can call it devolution. The issue of powers is crucial to the success of the devolution project. The point here is that Blair only gave Wales devolution because he thought he could control it.

I suggest that the blog entry was based on my letter. I make a habit of copying all my press releases and letters in to a wide circulation list of my colleagues for information.
So the Inside Swansea Council Blog is written by Lib Dem Swansea councillors. Thanks for clearing that up.
It might be. I don't just circulate press releases and letters to other Councillors. A large number of party activists also get them.
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