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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Policy free Welsh Tories

The questions have been appearing on the blogs for some weeks, what has happened to the report by Lord Roberts of Conwy that was reputedly meant to settle Tory policy on devolution in Wales for some time to come?

According to Betsan Powys Lord Roberts' interim report was delivered in July but nobody seems in any hurry to publish it. Despite this Nick Bourne managed to announce in Birmingham that the Tories may reverse the ban on dual candidacy for the Assembly. Are the contents of Lord Roberts' report to be leaked out bit by bit in this way or are we going to have an opportunity to evaluate it as a whole, including how it manages to square the circle within the Welsh Conservatives between those who want more powers and those who want to abolish the Assembly altogether?

Today's Western Mail draws attention to the fact that the Conservatives are struggling to adopt a united front on devolution, with some activists still entirely opposed to the Assembly, and others – including Assembly group leader Nick Bourne – keen to see the institution take on more powers. They too draw attention to the non-appearance of Lord Roberts' report.

It is of course right that this is not a subject that comes up on doorsteps. People are far more concerned with the state of the economy, petrol and energy prices, education and health. Nevertheless it is a test of exactly how far the Tories have travelled. The fact that they have not yet published the report indicates that they are far more concerned with their own internal divisions on this issue than in offering leadership to the rest of Wales.
"People are far more concerned with the state of the economy, petrol and energy prices, education and health"

People who put forward this argument - usually people like Cheryl Gillan and Paul Murphy who are very much afraid of their own party political divisions - don't really understand the issue. Further devolution and issues to do with the economy, petrol prices, policing etc are interlinked. A parliament for Wales with more powers will have an effect on the way we will/can deal with such issues.
Che> what's the current net negative budget balance - the difference between taxes raised in Wales and total government spend in Wales. I am not sure myself - is it around two billion sterling? How exactly is the WAG going to deal with that issue? An independent Wales would be two billion short. Unless of course members of the WAG finally get off their collective back-sides and come up with simple strategies to raise GVA per head of population which currently lurks at the bottom of the British economic league tables as noted in ‘An Overview of the Welsh economy” by Professor Brian Morgan, in ‘Who’s Who in Wales 2008’ published by the Western Mail, see especially page 9 thereof).
anon not sure that figure you quote - 2 billion - is correct as it can be argued a self governing wales would not spend the same proportions on certain areas (defence for example) as the british govt currently does!

But if we are being honest we might have to concede that taxes - for the wealthy at least - would have to increase if we are to maintain our current levels of public spending! And what would be wrong with that? The wealthy have benefited from too low levels of taxation for almost 2 decades now -it is high time they paid more into the public purse as they can certainly afford it (sounds of mass faintings in pontcanna and the vale of glamorgan!)

Anon there are many variables.

As Leigh points out there will be large areas where we would not spend vast quantities of public money, illegal wars, renewing our nuclear weapons etc. Also more money would come into the economy as we took responsibility for matters currently handled in England.

Still the matter is I am not making the argument for Independence here but simply saying that politicians who say that it is not important because people do not mention it are not taking into account that other issues that people do mention, i.e. petrol prices, police are affected by it.
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