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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

More on the blame game

Gerry Holtham has an interesting and rather technical article over on the IWA blog in which he explains why it is that Wales did comparatively worse than Scotland and Northern Ireland in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Far from Wales being a victim as the First Minister and other Labour politicians allege it seems that the difference is down to the way that the Barnett formula treats the Department of Communities and Local Government budget.

The First Minister has said that Wales suffered because it does not have influence around the cabinet table. Gerry Holtham has shown that assertion to be nonsense. Wales suffered because of the application of a formula introduced by Labour and maintained by Labour during their 13 years in government.

Despite that, we still did better than most UK Departments, better than the Welsh Government had planned for and better than we would have done under Alistair Darling's plans. Gerry Holtham's conclusion is worth noting::

The longer Wales complains about unfairness, the more firmly established will be its reputation as a collection of whingers. The requirement now is not for a better line in whinging but a plan to improve the situation by our own efforts.

The former Labour leader of Bridgend joins in on the comments:

Assembly politicians who moan about the settlement should realise that it could have been far worse if the UK government had not decided to ring fence health. I hope that this article has a really wide circulation so that we can at least get a mature debate on the policy decisions required in the next few years. As it stands and Gerry Holtham raises this issue there is a real danger of Wales drifting into a sort of political limboland with no real influence over where power really lies and that is still Westminster. Welsh politicians also have to develop a bit more political nous and realise that the devolved adminstrations do not have the same interests when it comes to trying to influence UK governments of whatever political persuasion who control what really matters which is the purse strings.

The question is whether Carwyn Jones is listening.
To be fair Peter in the last paragraph Gerry Holtham suggests exactly that. that Wales has lost out partly because the UK government doesn't care about it because,

1. It doesn't have an influence in the cabinet
2. No high profile Welsh MPs in the cabinet
3. No threat to the centre
4. not many swing seats
5. numbers of mps due to be cut.

Granted Holtham makes a financial case for why it has suffered most but the fact is he is quite clear about the political motivations for Wales missing out also.
And if you are being fair you will acknowledge that he made that point regarding the general situation of Wales within the UK and not specifically with regards the current government. The fact is that Wales had little influence under Labour in this regard as well.
I am fair Peter and agree. That is certainly a fair point. Labour, Lib Dem, Conservaties have all ignored Wales for the same reasons. Doesn't change that fact that those reasons exist and Wales has been ignored.
A fair comment by Peter Black.

What Peter is effectively saying is that for institutional reasons, Wales will have little influence whatever party wields power at Westminster.

In terms of furthering the interests of the people of Wales, Westminster is a dead end.

Even liberal and Labour politicians are now starting to recognise this, and it can't be that far from Nick Bourne's mind either. People like Nick Bourne and Peter Black will have been all to aware of how Wales was sidelined when Labour was in power (remember when Peter Hain attempted to stop the referendum?). They will be unhappy that their own parties are continuing that same behaviour.
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