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Monday, November 01, 2010

The new guard and civil disobedience

Ron Davies famously said that devolution was a process not an event, well it seems that for some in Cymdeithas Yr Iaith Gymraeg the process has become more important that the event itself.

They are launching a campaign to encourage people in Wales to boycott the TV licence in protest at UK Government plans for S4C they describe as “a stitch up.” The decision that has angered them is that of moving most of the Welsh-language channel’s funding into the control of the BBC. They say that S4C will also lose 94% of its UK Government grant, though actually, most of this funding will be picked up from the licence fee so it is not as bad as they make out.

The Chair of Cymdeithas says that "The truth is that these plans are a complete last minute stitch-up, between [Culture Secretary]Jeremy Hunt and BBC bosses in London. Neither our communities nor S4C are responsible for the recession so why do they have to suffer?

“The people of Wales won’t just accept these complete undemocratic decisions. We are not going to let the language disappear in the 21st century."

How exactly an elected government acting within its remit is being undemocratic is difficult to fathom but surely the important thing here is the outcome not the way that it is reached. If at the end of this process S4C remains independent and delivering Welsh language programmes mostly commissioned from ouside companies as has been promised, then surely we are all winners.

As I have said in the past it is scarcely credible to argue that S4C should be protected from cuts when other key services are suffering. But it must remain viable and that is the balancing act that needs to be secured over the next two years.

Trying to restart the campaign of civil disobedience that secured the channel in the first place is not credible and will not attract public support. For once this is a time to exercise influence rather than to protest.
"For once this is a time to exercise influence rather than to protest."

Now your in government, your going to be using that line a lot!
"How exactly an elected government acting within its remit is being undemocratic is difficult to fathom"

How is the government acting within its remit by proposing changes to the funding of S4C without yet changing the act that states that it can not legally do this? If anything this is a government ignoring its remit
It is within its remit because it is a non-devolved issue and therefore their responsibility. The fact that legislation is required is immaterial. Presumably the intention is to legislate so making the Government's plans legal.
The vast majority of people did not vote for the policies now being implemented.... personally I would argue that policy or policy stance that were not in the party manifesto by definition must be undemocratic; the electorate were never asked. Sometimes this is a compromise that has to be made, but irrespective it is an undemocratic compromise of an imperfect system. However frequently policies (absent from manifestos) that are brought into force (eg the recent VAT rise, Blair and the trains etc the examples are endless) are those which the party believes would damage its electability if they were presented to the public before the election.
It is interesting to see a lib dem arguing for the democratic integrity of the current system.
That is the nature of representative democracy. You cannot argue that a party has to get more than 50% of the vote or seats before they governm because that is not always possible. Also manifestos lay out a party's programme but cannot take account of the unexpected or of changes in circumstances. It would be unreasonable to expect otherwise. As for the present Government, the combined votes of the two parties amount to more than 50%. That is the first time since I was born that a Government has secured more than half the votes.
I've noticed that Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg has been sticking notes onto English only roadsigns in the Llynfi Valley.

Most noticibly in the Maesteg East ward, where Plaid Cymru didn't field a candidate.
So since when have you decreed that Cymdeithas yr Iaith can only protest about devolved issues?
Are we expected to just sit back and roll over because the language is being undermined by Westminster under "reserved powers"?
They can protest about what they like, that is their right. It is not for me to tell them otherwise. Equally, however, I have the right to criticise them for it if I think they are wrong.
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