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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A failure of opposition

I have blogged here many times at the way that the minority Welsh Labour Government have been let off the hook over and over again as a result of the failure of the three opposition parties in the Assembly to work together. Yesterday's approval of the Local Government Bill was a classic example of that failure.

The Welsh Government had earlier withdrawn this pointless Bill because they could not guarantee that it would be passed. The Bill facilitates voluntary mergers of local councils but the likelihood of any coming forward is now zero, following the rejection of three bids earlier this year.

It does not contain any changes to the voting system for local councils, nor does it progress in any way the whole scale reorganisation that is needed across Wales and which, in any case, cannot take place until after the Assembly elections in May.

Only a couple of weeks ago, the Plaid Cymru spokesperson, Simon Thomas stated that he believed that for these reasons this bill was "taking the p*ss", yet yesterday his party allowed it to pass despite it not being changed. What they got in exchange was a task and finish group on the use of Welsh in local councils, hardly a worthwhile price for such an embarrassing U-turn.

My point is that the three opposition parties are in a strong position to get major concessions from this government on a wide range of issues. We cannot force things through, but we can block things if need be so as to force changes that are beneficial to our constituents.

Instead, the three opposition parties have consistently failed to work together and when they have, then in many instances one or more of them have sold out cheaply so as to enable the Welsh Government to get its way.

I have no problem with a government getting its way of course. If it did not do so then its continuation in office would not be sustainable. However, our failure to act in concert has allowed Labour to treat the Assembly with contempt as they have done over Local Government, and prevented a fully rigorous scrutiny of legislation, in which Ministers have to make concessions to get it through.

A minority government has been allowed to act as if it had a majority and Welsh democracy is poorer for that.
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