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Monday, April 23, 2007

The devolution dividend

One of the problems with having a Welsh Assembly in which no one party has an overall majority and where there is a great deal of consensus about most things, is that it becomes more difficult to achieve clear differentiation and to take credit for the many benefits that devolution has brought.

Nevertheless, Labour has tried it today with a breathtaking claim that a "representative family" is £5,000 richer with the "devolution dividend" and that this is entirely down to them. There are a whole series of questions about what is a 'representative family' and how the figure of £5,000 has been reached, but like others I will just concentrate on who is responsible for the policies that makes up this basket of measures.

To say that the devolution dividend is down to Labour really is stretching things: Free bus passes come from the Partnership agreement; Free museum entry was a Welsh Liberal Democrat policy introduced by a Welsh Liberal Democrat minister - Jenny Randerson;. Baby bonds are a Westminster policy which would have come to Wales regardless of who runs the Assembly; Opposition to top-up fees and the final settlement for Welsh students in Welsh HEIs was something Labour had be forced in to by the other parties.

Of course alongside the obvious benefits of devolution, people should consider the Labour let-downs: the broken promise on home care for disabled people; the failure to tackle the crisis in NHS dentistry, the U-turn on smaller class sizes.

Devolution does have enormous potential for Wales but if we are to achieve that we need to have ambition and that is something Labour has been lacking so far.


Well let’s see now. I am not old enough for a bus pass so have not benefited there. I am a rare visitor to museums – probably haven’t saved £100 there, as good a policy as it is (thank you Jenny).

Baby bonds? My children are too old to have benefited from them regardless of where they came from.

I do benefit form no top up fees as my eldest is at University. However, thanks to Labour I have to pay tuition fees! So no gain there then.

Maybe I’m not a ‘representative family’?? They probably only exist in Labour’s fantasy world.
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