.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Friday, July 13, 2007

Strengthening the union

Former Welsh Secretary, Paul Murphy, has an article in the New Statesman this week on the 'unthinkable alliance with Plaid'. In it he repeats his disagreement with the proposal to share power with the Nationalists. "For me," he says, " the conflict of ideology with Plaid - our vastly differing ambitions for Wales - meant that I did not favour the coalition."

He continues: "Labour should always prioritise the public services that people care about, and the fight for social justice that changes lives. I felt that an alliance with Plaid Cymru, with their fixation about constitutional issues, endangered that. However, now that the Party has spoken, Rhodri has my support in what is bound to be an interesting few years.

One issue that came up on the fringes of this debate, and will need to be addressed in the future, is the role of Welsh MPs in this new context. Some people questioned the right of Members of Parliament to contribute to the debate on the coalition. ‘MPs should keep their attentions on Westminster and stay off the thorny areas of internal Welsh politics’, they said. But, even leaving aside the fact that many issues in the ‘One Wales’ document directly involve MPs, this position is both wrong and counter-productive for Wales.

Welsh Labour has, and always should, make the argument that Wales works best with AMs and MPs co-operating, working in partnership. A fellow Welsh MP, Chris Bryant, recently made the suggestion that practical steps should be taken to strengthen this relationship and help give us a better understanding of the situations and pressures each other face. Labour AMs and MPs should meet jointly more often, for example, especially when specific issues can be better addressed through working together. This is something I endorse; not because of any wish to direct operations from Westminster, but because a stronger partnership would be beneficial for Wales. "

I was quite interested in his view on unionism. He is quite open in stating that the Labour Party, in Wales as in the rest of the United Kingdom, is a ‘unionist’ party, arguing that through being part of the Union, Wales benefits greatly – as the Union benefits from the presence of Wales.

He then goes on to turn the argument on its head by suggesting that the real divisions are in Plaid Cymru. Their members, he says are split between ‘unionists’ who want to stay part of the UK, and those who will publicly admit to their obsession with independence.

His assertion that devolution should strengthen the union is one that I agree with. If we embrace diversity then we can work better together. If we allow different approaches to problems to cause resentment and to build barriers then the union really will be under threat.
I would also be very worried if I was a Welsh MP now. Do you wonder why they want to "meet up" with the AMs now? They did not show much interest before the coalition. Do the AMs need them? I doubt it. It was the same electorate who voted both in but the Wales election was the one that matters most to us. These political dinosaurs should realise they represent their party in Westminster. The AMs represent the Welsh people - in Wales.
Paul reflects one element of a spectrum of debate - Labour truly reflecting the people of Wales in this respect Do the people of Wales yet know their mind on this ? Not yet I might suggest and Rainbow / Red-Green is part of that process.

"....his assertion that devolution should strengthen the Union..." may be something you believe, but you are wrong.

We are watching the death throes of the 'Union'.

It's just a question, now, of time.

The English [who have had no legal status since the 18th century] will get their own parliament, barnett will disappear, there will be an equalisation of spending per head, a Welsh Parliament will get tax raising powers, because we are one of the poorest parts of Europe (and therefore the tax take will be low) Wales will have less not more to spend, it will lead to the destruction of the Labour Party in UK terms (there will be a small rump of Labour left in England), that will lead to permanent power for the Tories, your party will have to drift further and further to the right to survive as any form of opposition in England.

That is what is really behind Paul Murphy's article [among my postings I pose the question: 'What
are Labour's Welsh MPs for?' The
answer, there, brings Paul Murphy's dilemma in to stark relief]

These are the realities of devolution.

Don't believe me?

* Read the postings on my blogsite.
* Read the postings on the growing
number of separatist-leaning
sites in the Welsh blogosphere.
* Read the growing anger and
resentment on those sites
calling for an English

The winds of devolution are
blowing the flag of the 'Union' to tatters.

It's a case of when - not if.

Anon, I think you're right about the sudden concern of Labour MPs in Wales.

The conduct of Labour MPs has shown them for what they really are - self-absorbed in the Westminster bubble.

"Judge a man by his enemies" (Oscar Wilde, I think). Judge "One Wales" by its enemies - Paul Murphy, Kim Howells, Peter Hain, Baron Kinnock of Bedwellty.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?