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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The myth of Cardiff Bay-Westminster relationships

It looks like former UK Minister and ex-Pontypridd MP, Kim Howells is not going to be the Welsh Education Minister's favourite person today, after some typically frank revelations in today's Western Mail.

Mr. Howells confirms what we all suspected that Tony Blair’s government deliberately ignored the contentious issue of Welsh and Scottish MPs voting on English laws when drawing up devolution plans, but then goes on to take a shot at his own party’s record in power at Cardiff Bay, questioning educational attainment and suggesting a separate “Welsh way” was being pursued for the sake of it:

He said: “We haven’t struggled along very well. We’ve seen educational standards in Wales decline. There’s a crisis in universities where everybody’s trying to merge every university in Wales.

“These are issues which shouldn’t be closed off to Wales, and they’re a direct consequence of what’s happened to education in Britain.

“I did the higher education ministerial job twice and it grieved me to see the way to hear so often people say ‘well, this is the Welsh way’, as if somehow we could invent a completely new system for educating our children and young people.

“And of course it hit the rocks when the universities announced that they could not carry on with the finances as they were and they would have to bang up students’ tuition fees very significantly, and Wales was faced with a problem.”

Kim Howells then goes on to explode the myth that relations between the Welsh Government and their UK counterparts have hit and all-time low since May 2010. In fact they are just as bad as they have always been:

“I was a minister throughout the Blair and Brown administrations, until Brown and I fell out pretty bitterly, and I never once visited the Welsh Assembly, and I worked in six different departments,” he said.

“So there’s a lot of talk about cooperation, but I’m not sure.”

I am not going to pretend that it is any different today but it is worth pointing out that whereas Gordon Brown also did not visit the Assembly once and only came to Wales once as Prime Minister, Nick Clegg has been here eleven times.

If there is one party that lacks respect for Wales and its sovereignty, then it is Labour.
I know it's off-topic, and I outlined my thoughts on it a couple of weeks ago, and you declined to publish my comment then, though it was on-topic, coherent and by someone with a consistent on-line identity.

The fundamental rationale for the coalition with the Tories was to deal with the economic crisis. It seems to me, and to most other people, after today's miserable growth figures, that the Coalition has failed and is failing in doing that. Things are going from bad to worse.

It's a bit like the officers of the Titanic refusing to accept that the ship was sinking, hoping against hope it would stay afloat, because taking to the lifeboats would be an admission of defeat or failure. There were some fatal flaws in the Titanic's design. There are fatal flaws in the Coalition's economic strategy - and they are coming to the surface. Unfortunately the LibDems have burnt their lifeboats.

If you do comment on the state of the economy, please be so kind as to publish mine, if you don't do so today. Regards.
Presumably you missed the bit about boring comments.

You seem very keen to jump to conclusions on the economy. It does however take time to turn these things around. Things are not going from bad to worse, in fact they are staying pretty constant.
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