Nation building versus evolutionary devolution

Wayne David makes a pragmatic case for extending some of the National Assembly’s powers

The Labour Party is currently addressing how decentralisation and devolution can best be taken forward for the UK as a whole. In England, this means reversing an ever-increasing centralisation which began in Tudor times. In Scotland and Wales this means building on the already established devolution settlements.

Such an all-UK ‘holistic’ approach would mark a new departure in the approach of central government to devolution. The traditional approach of previous Labour and Conservative central governments, as well as the current Conservative-led government, has been essentially to give ‘concessions’ to national sentiment on the Celtic fringe. While recognising that national identity is important, in that it provides a bedrock on which to build institutions, the essential case for devolution is about the need to bring decision-making closer to the people and the necessity to build a modern economy. Devolution is central to both objectives.

The Scottish Labour Party is currently developing its policies to extend devolution in Scotland and, come the referendum of 2014, the Party will be putting forward a clear vision of a dynamic Scotland within the framework of the UK. In England, the Party is examining how best to decentralise decision-making from Whitehall and Westminster, possibly to local authorities.

In Wales, too, devolution is being taken forward by the Labour Party. In the referendum of 1997, devolution for Wales was secured with the slimmest of majorities. But since then, devolution has become firmly established and receives significant popular support. Today, the Labour Party in Wales describes itself as ‘Welsh Labour’. As such it is seen as the ‘natural’ party of Welsh government and is undoubtedly the dominant political force in Welsh politics. The debate inside Welsh Labour is not about whether the Welsh Assembly should have more powers. Rather it is about to what extent devolution should be extended and according to what time-scale. The status quo is not the way forward.

Essentially there are two approaches to extending Welsh devolution. Firstly, there is the ‘nation-building’ approach. This is beloved by Welsh Nationalists who subscribe to the ‘project’ of creating a Welsh nation state. I say ‘creating’ because, of course, there has never been a Welsh state, if you define statehood by widely accepted criteria. The second approach is essentially evolutionary. It is about building on what has been achieved, learning lessons and pragmatically taking forward devolution so that the already established model is extended and improved.

I am a firm advocate of the second approach. Following the government of Wales Act of 2006, which was itself a significant step down the devolution road and the referendum of 2011, which gave the Assembly primary legislative powers for the first time, there is a need for a sensible debate about how devolution can best be taken forward.

One debate relates to planning. While planning matters are generally devolved, it can be argued that it is anomalous that the Welsh Government does not have decision-making responsibility in relation to the consenting of energy generation projects of over 50 Megawatts. The Welsh Government, it is argued, has devoted much time and effort to developing a distinct spatial approach towards sustainable energy generation. However, the planning process is impeded because the consent for large-scale wind turbines has to be sought through central government.

Another area is policing. It has been strongly argued that policing in Wales, particularly in the north and south, has to be based on the recognition that criminality is no respecter of Offa’s Dyke. But on the other hand, it is said, with other local services devolved, policing in Wales would benefit if it were fully engaged with those services. As things stand, proponents of police devolution point out that policing is the only emergency service which is not devolved to Wales.

But if policing were devolved it surely needs to be acknowledged that Wales would not have the capacity to provide many of the specialist services which are currently available to the police forces in Wales. In particular, I am thinking of the National Police College based in Berkshire and the National Policing Improvement Agency. If devolution of policing did occur, then it is essential that strong relationships are maintained and that it is recognised in a practical way that the fight against crime has to continue on a UK and international basis, with the police in Wales playing a full part. Any proposal for police devolution needs to address these issues. Or perhaps, on balance, it would be better to maintain the England and Wales model.

More radically, it has been suggested that there should be a new Government of Wales Act. The essential purpose of such an Act, it is argued, would be to reverse the current presumption in the 2006 Act, so that rather than devolution relying on a list of areas which are explicitly devolved, devolution would apply to all those areas which are not reserved to central government. This is the model that governs devolution in Scotland and there is a case for at least a careful examination of how such a ‘reserved powers’ model might apply to Wales.

One of the strongest arguments in favour of such a model is that it would avoid references, by an unsympathetic ‘Tory’ government in London, of disputed cases to the Supreme Court for it to decide whether the Welsh Government is able to legislate. On the other hand, there may well be unforeseen consequences and the Assembly might find itself responsible for areas of policy it had not bargained for. It should also be noted that in Scotland the reserved powers model is not free from problems.

Recently, the first report on finance has been published by the Silk Commission. In essence it recommends the devolution of a number of relatively small taxes and borrowing powers to Wales. The report also proposes that there be limited income tax varying powers, but that the Barnett formula, through which the block grant is allocated, is at least modified. The desirability of such measures need to be openly discussed and whether an extension of devolution of this kind needs to have the consent of the Welsh people through a referendum.

Devolution is at heart about bringing decision-making closer to the people in a way that recognises the realities of the modern world. It is also about ensuring that there are flexible structures of government in place which reflect people’s sense of identity. That is why it makes sense to consider extending Welsh devolution, while at the same time developing devolution throughout the UK so that it strengthens the United Kingdom as a whole.

Wayne David is MP for Caerphilly and Labour’s Shadow Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform.

45 thoughts on “Nation building versus evolutionary devolution

  1. A very cautious and conservative article, marked by the unnecessary division between nation-building and pragmatism. There aren’t really ‘two approaches’ to extending devolution, a nation-building one and an evolutionary one. Wayne himself notes you can only have an evolutionary approach if you have national identity as the ‘bedrock’. If you wanted a purely localist case about devolving decisions closer to people, you probably wouldn’t choose Wales as your template.

    However, Wales is the template because the Welsh national identity is the most effective common experience that can apply across the country. By the end of this article I couldn’t help thinking that nothing had actually changed, that nobody’s views had been challenged, and that Wayne David is preoccupied with an unecessary false dichotomy between nation-building and evolution/pragmatism. While spending too much time trying to convince everyone he isn’t a nationalist, Wayne hasn’t committed himself to anything except for “exploring” policing (his First Minister wants it devolved), “examining” a reserved powers model and so on. This is an extremely limited article in my opinion.

  2. Interesting piece. I’d agree the best way to save the union is “devolution throughout the UK” turning the UK into a federal state of four parts. The only big step needed to do that is to have a Parliament of England (probably outside of London). This is something the two large parties need to get to grips with before the likes of UKIP take that ground, because it will, understandably, be very popular in England.

  3. “Wales would not have the capacity to provide many of the specialist services which are currently available to the police forces in Wales. In particular, I am thinking of the National Police College based in Berkshire”

    You can’t envisage Welsh police(wo)men, following devoloution, still attending the facility in Berkshire? You know, the way foreign soldiers are trained at Sandhurst. That seems to be a very parochial attitude.

  4. While it is good to read some honest and intelligent long-term thinking about devolution, it might have been better if the Labour Party had thought all this out thoroughly before 1997. As it is, devolution now has its own momentum, beyond even Labour’s control. The suggestion that the current Government of Wales Act be replaced, far from being radical, simply states what is implicit in its provisional nature, as it was in the 1998 Act. Although it currently seems likely that the Scots will reject independence in next year’s referendum, the fact that such independence is on the agenda, and a legal and political possibility only 15 years after the establishment of a Scottish Parliament, refutes the argument that devolution is an antidote to nationalism. Whether one believes this is desirable or not, there is simply no going back now.

  5. ” While recognising that national identity is important” —–Are we talking about the racist British Government here? They are working flat out to destroy English identity and impoverish England.

    Anyone from Scotland to Jersey is recognised as having a voice and an ability to conduct their own affairs —except England. Each has the right to self determination by referendum — except the English. The Brits buy their enemies and crap on their friends. The biggest enemy that England has ever faced is ensconced in Westminster.

    Most of the world, including all of the other countries of the UK have long recognised Britain for what it is and have distanced themselves. England is at last awakening to the fact and will eventually turn on the Brits. It is interesting that you mention that the other UK countries control their own planning and thus house building. If you don’t build accommodation you can’t settle immigrants. The British government controls English planning and thus we alone have plans for 3 million houses with a declining indigenous population. This, of course, concentrates immigrants in England, thus intentionally diluting and destroying the indigenous English. The other countries have little reason to be smug,since once we are destroyed the spotlight will fall on them. We have mutual borders and once the Brits ambitions have been realised in England those borders will become very porous indeed.

    The Brits need slinging out, Britain dissolved and we can all work in our own interests as a very, very loose federation.

  6. Like Luke, I really can’t see the distinction that Wayne is trying to make, let alone why it merits a confrontational “versus” in the headline.

    But I’ll confine my comments to what Wayne has said about policing. The whole matter of police training in Englandandwales has undergone some radical convulsions and re-convulsions in the last few years. Centrex was only set up in 2001. But it was wound up in 2007 and what it did was passed to the National Policing Improvement Agency. And that in turn has been wound up and its training functions passed on to the College of Policing (based in Ryton, near Coventry). Police training has been changing so much and so quickly that I’m not surprised Wayne hasn’t been able to keep up.

    What is interesting is that, under the short-lived Centrex set-up, one of the five training centres in Englandandwales was in St Dials, Cwmbran. So there is no INHERENT capacity issue in Wales. What we did before we could do again, although we may now have to find a new (and preferably more central) site for it. It’s also worth remembering that the Police Service of Northern Ireland, serving a population of only 1.8m, has its own Police College. So why can’t a country (or local democratic decision-making region of the UK, for those in Labour who wince at any mention of Wales as a nation) with a population of 3m train its own police?

  7. This is an interesting paragraph – “Essentially there are two approaches to extending Welsh devolution. Firstly, there is the ‘nation-building’ approach. This is beloved by Welsh Nationalists who subscribe to the ‘project’ of creating a Welsh nation state. I say ‘creating’ because, of course, there has never been a Welsh state, if you define statehood by widely accepted criteria. The second approach is essentially evolutionary. It is about building on what has been achieved, learning lessons and pragmatically taking forward devolution so that the already established model is extended and improved.”

    This doesn’t make sense. The ‘nation building’ approach is itself evolutionary. Cynog Dafis’s contribution to the ‘Parliament for Wales’ volume back in the mid 90s advocated a ‘step by step’ approach, and that’s been Plaid’d dominant approach ever since the mid 20th century. There are no ‘two approaches’ here, at least not in the terms described by Wayne David. The opposite of evolutionary would presumably be ‘revolutionary’, and no one seems to be advocating that!

    The difference seems to lie in interpretation, and the envisaged end-point. Nationalists believe that they’re creating a new Wales. (It seems strange to use ‘create’ as a negative term in the way David deploys it). Labour devolutionists believe that they’re strengthening the UK. But whatever the spin, the process being described is the same – evolutionary development. Nation building is evolutionary devolution. There are no ‘two approaches’ here.

  8. “…has been essentially to give ‘concessions’ to national sentiment on the Celtic fringe”. Wayne David, a Welshman and an MP who has represented a Welsh constituency for a respectable period of time, has called Wales, Scotland and NI the Celtic Fringe. Wales and Scotland, for a start, make up a huge amount of the landmass of the British Isles as it is, not to mention of the UK. With about 2.5 million Welsh people and about 5 million Scots, how on earth are we “on the fringe”? I would thoroughly expect to hear this from an Anglo-centric, Cambrophobic British nationalist, but Wayne David? Very disappointing. The very use of such a term, however, underlines why devolution is needed. If we are considered to be on “the fringe” how can we expect to have our needs and problems dealt with properly? A Welsh Government would never call the country it is meant to govern a “fringe” country.

    @Fred- It is true that English Identity, or at least something that is ostensibly called English, is not being recognised at all by the UK Government and that is wrong. However, as Gwynfor Evans put it “Britishness is a political synonym for Englishness”. Yes, Britishness ignores the term Englishness, but we in Wales know full well, or those of us who identify with the Welsh Nation anyway, that Britishness IS Englishness.

  9. Not surprised that the nationalists are demanding devolved police force and the Judiciary for Wales as such measures based on the current criteria only benefits the Y Fro mindset and no one else… I’m saying this based on my recent look at the recruitment practices on the part of North Wales Police Force who require GCSE qualification in Welsh language for the prospective Bobbies… Then when you look at the national statistics for education and realise that after nearly 12 years of relentless Welsh language promotion you’ll only find some 14% of the kids having the necessary linguistic qualifications… Again as elsewhere in the public sector the flowed selection criterion gives you far from the best candidates for the job, but they speak Welsh!?

  10. Jon Jones:-
    “Gosh English Fred….you talk just like a Welsh Nationalist.————–”
    I once stood for election to the Welsh Assembly Jon.
    Good luck to all nationalists, it is the only way to beat the globalists and preserve the nation state.
    We are all in this fight mate that is why the Brits are so determined to pitch us all against each other.
    Man against woman, black against white, Muslim against Christian, left against right and nation against nation . It matters not who is in conflict so long as it keeps our attention off the predations of the Brit/USA Corporatists. ‘The special relationship’ is very special to the privileged few and we all know which partner is on the bottom.

  11. Ben says::- “English Identity, or at least something that is ostensibly called English” You forgot to add Baa! to that one Ben. You are following sheep like into the Brit trap of dismissing the English. That one may come back to bite in the near future.
    Whilst you may find it convenient to keep up English hate by considering us British we English are at last seeing the plot and the latest polls see us as considering ourselves as English—not British.
    You see immigration has backfired on the Brits because it is diluting the British identity and strengthened the English one. There is a core English awakening and if you are interested enough I suggest you Google the lovely Neil Kinnock on his remarks about English nationalism. Says it all!

  12. This is an article consisting mainly of rhetoric, which doesn’t even amount to a pennyworth of hot air.

    Labour MPs from Wales have, with one or two exceptions, been noted opponents of devolution. Wayne’s remarks suggest to me that he can be counted among them. I think we will have to wait a long time before we see him voting for significant devolution of powers. He can of course, prove me wrong.

    With a firm grasp of history, Wayne declares confidently that, ‘of course, there has never been a Welsh state..’, conveniently omitting the fact that it never had the opportunity of becoming one, as it was conquered in an age well before the concept of the nation state evolved in the 19th C. From its conquest in 1282, Wales has been governed, for good or ill, from the very city and Parliament where Wayne sits as one of the six per cent of MPs which represent Wales. Does he believe that an injustice perpetrated on a people in a bygone age is sufficient reason for its continuation in perpetuity? Is that a sufficient objection to Welsh statehood? Not one of the former British colonies had been states either, but they are today. Some fifty of them having achieved independence post 1945, many with fewer resources than Wales possesses. Not one has desired a return to its former status.

    The condition Wales is in today suggests that it has been, and is being, governed pretty badly, and the future doesn’t look promising either. We’re facing a decade of austerity whichever parties are in government. Labour and the Tories seem to be competing in an austerity auction.

    Principles and history aside, it seems clear to me, and to the majority of us, that the model of devolution devised for Wales in 1979 and 1997 was ill-conceived. It would be an understatement to say that it hasn’t worked well. Its shortcomings were emphasised after the Act of 2006, and its legacy remains post-referendum. It is in urgent need of reform. I believe that a move to the Scottish model could be effected relatively easily, and should be enacted as soon as possible. I hope that Wayne and his colleagues would press for it, and give it their full support, as it would be in the best interests of clear, efficient and good government for our people. However, given the devo-sceptic and centralising tendencies at Westminster, I don’t expect much to come Wales’ way any time soon.

    I think Scotland will be the constitutional game-changer for Wales, whatever the outcome of the referendum. I believe the result will be close. The constant barrage of attacks on the pro-independence movement in the unionist controlled media and press, and the negativity of the Better Together campaign, indicates to me that fear of a Yes vote is very real and runs deep. The negativity is likely to be counter-productive as the campaign progresses, especially given the ‘soft’ nature of a large proportion of the No vote, consisting of 30% of Scots who want all powers short of independence. That option is denied to them, so they will have to choose between independence, the status quo, or the promises of jam tomorrow hinted at by the unionists who have a history of reneging.

    If Scotland exits, Wayne and his colleagues will have a hard choice to make. On the one hand they can support Labour in the rUK with a right wing agenda appealing to the English middle class, and little chance of getting into government. On the other hand, they can opt for a left-leaning Wales, with its own legislature, having all the powers to sort out Wales’ long standing problems.

    The fact that an independence referendum is taking place indicates that there is something radically wrong with the UK as it stands. The unionist parties are in denial. They need to face up to reality, by coming up with realistic and firm proposals if they are to prevent it falling apart. That they haven’t done so suggests to me that there is no solution.

    These are interesting times. Wayne’s opinions are likely to be irrelevant.

  13. *** @Fred- Actually,I did not dismiss your English identity at all, my point was that it has been used to attempt to assimilate Celtic people in Britain since the 18th century, Britishness is a veil under which English nationalism lies, it’s as simple as that. How ironic that there are calls for English Devolution, in a parliament dominated by the English to the detriment of the Welsh and Scots. If the English are being ignored and are at a disadvantage, who by the way make up 80% of the UK population and have the majority of MPs out of 650, explain Tryweryn. That Britishness is detrimental to Englishness is ludicrous, there are one and the same. I support an English Parliament, as this way it will lead to the further break up of centralization. Isn’t it interesting though, that the English talk of a Parliament for themselves, but we in Wales had to make to do with a small assembly that couldn’t even make laws until two years ago

  14. Ben: —-“If the English are being ignored and are at a disadvantage, who by the way make up 80% of the UK population and have the majority of MPs out of 650, explain”

    Ben, 95% of an army is made up of men and non-commissioned minor officers. Field Marshals and Generals make up 1 or 2%? Who makes the decisions and who gives the orders?
    The British Gov has been dominated by Scots over the last decisive decade. The majority of their leadership had signed the Scottish Claim of Right swearing a public oath to put the interests of Scotland over all others. AND by God they did just that! It was a Scots led administration that gave you an assembly whilst bestowing their own with autonomy without responsibility. They cut virtually all ties with Britain except the lucrative purse strings. They firstly isolated Scotland from the destruction they were about to wreak. It was they that decisively tried to destroy the English identity using the EU, immigration, regionalisation, a domination of an education system that prohibited the teaching of English history and tried to impose a British Identity on England alone whilst pursuing a policy of encouraging nationalism everywhere else in the UK.
    Our 400 English MPs sold us out I am afraid.
    We elect?? our representatives but do not select them. Ours were chosen for their weaknesses, not their strengths. That leaves them very vulnerable–think about that and relate it to recent scandals. If Westminster had bars and locked cells it would be a more appropriate place for its inhabitants.
    The people are always in a majority but the few rule. We all need to reverse that by making our representatives personally accountable and only then will any of us have a society that serves the people of our respective countries.
    You elect Welshmen, the Scots–Scots, the Irish– Irish and we stupid English tolerate rule by a government, a third of which was born outside of our borders and outside any empathy with the culture, history or wellbeing of the indigenous people of England. More and more are starting to shock into the realisation that Britain is not for us.

  15. I’m going to refrain from commenting on the ‘contributor’ arguments here (pro- / anti- devolution for Wales), as interesting as they are, as they are very well rehearsed on this site, and I don’t think anyone has said anything particularly new. I support further devolution to Wales on the Scottish model. End of.

    But, just a quick comment to agree with one or two of you about the lack of substance in Wayne David’s article. It was simply a description of some of the options, some of the questions, that is, that his party will need to answer in due course…. options that have been done to death here and elsewhere since the main submissions to Silk started to go in just after the New Year. At no point did it enlighten me as to his personal position in the debate, or even perhaps give us some insight of how he sees the future battle lines drawing up in the Labour Party – which would have been at least interesting. Thank you for the description Wayne, but, I suspect, like me, most of the readers of this site are more than aware of the constitutional options. I’d be much more interested in understanding your preference, and the arguments you bring to the discussion to support that preference.

    On a second point. I would just caution you, and like-minded folk in any political party, on the wisdom of seeing ‘devolution’ or regionalism WITHIN England as some sort of saviour on a white horse for the Union – that is dividing England into powerful regional territories as a sort of antidote to Scottish, Welsh and Irish devolution or home rule. The Spanish Government thought exactly the same in 1978 and set up powerful regional authorities across historic Castile and Aragon as a counter-balance against Catalan, Basque and Galician nationalism. 30 years later, Catalan and Basque nationalism continue as before but a significant backlash against the ‘unnatural’ regions is beginning to take place, simply on the grounds of ‘too much government’, and the splintering of ‘real’ Castilian identity. I think the basic point is that there is no escaping the real issue. Scottish, Welsh and Irish national ‘matters’ are real, whether people agree with them or not, and again, fascinating debates aside, we might agree that they’ve been real in a modern political context for at least 120/130 years (?). With the exception of Cornwall, there is absolutely no grass-roots regionalist sentiment in England, and in fairness, why on earth should there be?

    An English ‘regional’ solution will be inorganic, command no popular support, expensive and ultimately fail. At this stage at least, for I do not discount changes to the current realpolitik in 50 or 100 years, if people want to preserve a union in the British isles, I suspect it will have to be on a 4 nation basis with an element of pooled sovereignty at the top for whatever people feel should be managed in common. I suspect a resurrection of Commonwealth concepts and dominion statuses may will be on the cards after 2014…

    But let’s not kid ourselves, England is England and always has been. It’s us who have the problem with our statuses, not her with hers…

  16. “I suspect it will have to be on a 4 nation basis with an element of pooled sovereignty at the top for whatever people feel should be managed in common. I suspect a resurrection of Commonwealth concepts and dominion statuses may will be on the cards after 2014…”

    I should have added that I cannot see any obvious force or imperative that will impose symmetry on those relationships by the way. The geopolitics of the Islands makes that almost impossible. I suspect that Scotland, N. Ireland and Wales will continue to make separate arrangements with the dominant partner which best suit the realities of those individual bilateral relationships. And what’s wrong with that?

  17. I wonder where you Nationalists think this will end. It may be an imperfect model but the UK does have a coherence and an ethic of re-distribution to poorer areas… yes, yes I know that it doesn’t work well but we have a history of trying to redistribute wealth. Only scuppered over time by the dominant and devious capitalism that was given added momentum and renewal in the Thatcher era.

    If England gains Independence then why shouldn’t the City state of London claim Independence…and all its wealth to itself?
    Why shouldn’t Cardiff and the South East declare that it is fed up with supporting the indolent, isolationist NW and West of wales and break away to enjoy its wealth?
    Cornwall claims a unique indigenous population ….they have to have independence……..

    What really bothers me is the sub-context of hatred that both Welsh and English Nationalists evince.

  18. Jon,

    You rebut your first argument (a natural coherence in the UK and a tradition of redistribution) with your second (the city state of London and all its wealth). I don’t feel any need to contradict you further there.

    “Why shouldn’t the City state of London claim Independence…and all its wealth to itself?” – It can do at any time, like it always could have done throughout history. The answer as to why it won’t in the future is in the answer to why it hasn’t in the past. I don’t think that needs outlining here. Just do the exercise and you’ll get there.

    Same question on Cardiff and SE Wales – once you’ve done the exercise above apply the answer to the imaginary Welsh context you portray.

    I don’t speak for Cornwall, you’d better ask them.

    He who sees hatred in others is doomed to suffer the same fate. I pity you that.

  19. There is no point in hatred in any politics. In fact I find that Welsh politics is usually criticised for being too warm and cuddly. I think with Jon’s views it might be his own interpretation of who he thinks is a “nationalist” or what he reads on the internet. That aside, Jon’s other point might be more interesting. If people wanted to identify themselves with a certain territory and try and democratically change the status of their territory, they can do so. Welsh nationalists are further ahead than London nationalists on this, because Wales is recognised by now as an actual national entity. London isn’t, neither is Cardiff, and secessionist or similar movements are not likely to emerge in those places. Politics should be more about looking at what arrangements actually exist and how they could be improved. Speculating about where it would end isn’t necessarily as important, because it’s too early to tell. We should talk about the actual current status of Wales and what would be the next step in improving it. I’m not seeing that in this article, but the debate is ongoing.

  20. Jon Jones “I wonder where you Nationalists think this will end.”

    I’ve said it before. All politics is “nationalist”. I have yet to come across any political party or politician anywhere in the world who is NOT a “nationalist”.

    The question is “what sort of nationalist are YOU?” The Unionist parties espouse English Imperial Nationalism, Easily the worst kind; intolerant, unjust and exploitative (i.e. racist) whereas the political nationalism in Wales and Scotland is defensive against Imperial Nationalism.

    So don’t try and put yourself forward as a non-nationalist. It doesn’t wash.

  21. @ Fred- I have never heard anything so ridiculous in my life, with all due respect. You actually believe that first of all there was a conspiracy by a Scottish led British Government to kill off English identity and to put the interests of Scotland above everything else, and secondly that the Government is actually run by the Scottish? I needn’t say how wholly fantastical that sounds.
    Explain :-

    A. Why the said Government is not supporting an independent Scotland then
    B. Why there shouldn’t be a strong Scottish element in the Cabinet and in Whitehall anyway, this is the UK
    not the Union of England and its colonies.
    C. Why that the vast majority of Ministers are in fact English

  22. @ Gwyn

    The cities of Britain are some of the most multi-cultural in the world and this is wholly in line with the ethos and policies of unionist British Parties. Your attempt to try and smear mainstream unionist parties (what you call English imperialists) as intolerant and racist is truly pathetic. I can hardly see Plaid Cymru accepting as much multi-culturalism in the towns and villages of Gwynedd as what we tolerant and welcoming Brits have in the rest of the country can you?!? After all, the founder of Plaid Cymru couldnt even tolerate non Welsh speaking children from the midlands coming temporarily to rural Wales to avoid being bombed in the war!

  23. @Belowlandsker- ”I can hardly see Plaid Cymru accepting as much multi-culturalism in the towns and villages of Gwynedd as what we tolerant and welcoming Brits have in the rest of the country can you?!?” Double standards here and complete hypocrisy. If you ”Brits” are so welcoming and inclusive, explain why you all think it’s ok to minoritize fellow Welsh speaking British citizens, and why you think you have a divine right to anglicize Wales?

  24. £100,000,000 a year for the past twenty years for S4C (have you seen the type of cars in the carpark outside S4C- I have!!), an urdd organisation receiving orders of magnitude more public funding than any English medium youth organisation, Welsh medium schools receiving more funding both direct and indirectly (from organisations such as RhAG), Radio Cymru given ten times the budget of Radio Cornwall (which has more listeners)….. and on a local level, thousands of pounds chucked in last minute (after budgets have been finalised i.e. cuts will need to now be made elsewhere) for the Tafwyl festival….. ad infinitum

    Remind me again how we “brits” are not supporting Welsh!?!

  25. @belowthelandsker. And the penny drops! Dropped yourself in it there, pretends to be inclusive, multicultural and welcoming of other cultures in the UK, and then goes on a rant about the amount spent on revitalizing and maintaining Welsh! Priceless hypocrisy. Don’t hide behind this contradiction of ”we support multiculturalism” until you turn rhetoric into action and start supporting Welsh. Or is it that difficult for you as its existence reminds you of the fallacy of the idea of a uniform British (English) state?

  26. And whilst we are on the subject, recent research by Arad has shown that S4C has an economic value to Wales that is double it’s annual budget, i.e. for every £1 spent by the channel from public funding (not forgetting that it is now funded from the licence fee as are all channels), £1.95 is created for the Welsh economy and since the channels’ establishment in 1982, it has contributed over £2.2 billion to the Welsh economy.

  27. It was you that brought up the welsh language Ben not me! I was talking to Gwyn about multi-culturalism and you brought up the whole ‘the world is against Welsh speakers’ chip on shoulder rubbish! After that I was merely pointing out that how can ‘we brits’ be against the revival of the Welsh language when we put so much money towards it. I certainly don’t mind that amount being spent on the language but a little quiet reflection and gratitude now and again from self-righteous Welsh nationalists might not go a miss.

  28. The author’s comment that the Heddlu Cymru should continue to be controlled from England when the common protocols of democracy demand they be controlled by Wales’ legislature, simply because we don’t have a Police Academy, is ridiculous. We could set up an academy, or if we choose not to we could use the academy in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany wherever! These choices arise when you’re free. I’ve no criticism with Wales’ Labour govt, but our Westminster MPs are always trying to tighten england’s grasp around our throat.

  29. I think there is some research that shows that people in Wales identifying as “Welsh” are more antagonistic towards immigration to Britain than people in Wales identifying as “British”.

    Not really a surprise.

  30. “the UK does have …an ethic of re-distribution to poorer areas”.
    Perhaps it had, but no longer. A recent documentary on “Regional Policy” on BBC R4 made it clear that current thinking within Whitehall & the far-right think-tanks who are so influential on this Tory govt, is that GB’s regions should be allowed to decline and the sooner the better. In this climate the quicker Wales can divest itself of London’s predatory economic direction the better.
    We must look after ourselves, because no one else will-nor should they.

  31. @’belowlandsker- I nearly apologized there, until I read your absurd comments.
    1. RhAG is a NGO, not a government funded body. They lobby, that is it
    2. The Urdd has been in existence since 1922, has over 50,000 members, 1,500 branches over the whole of Wales, and has an annual turnover (through its own funding) of about £6 million a year.
    3. Radio Cornwall does broadcast in any other language than English. Radio Cymru broadcasts in Welsh, the two things are different.
    4.Tafwyl has become very popular, 8,500 peoplTe came to the free event last year. The council targeted the festival, unfortunatly the council was slapped down and the festival will go ahead. It is popular, and as such it will continue.

    So you ”support” Welsh”, but then rant and rave about the promotion of it? Double standards, yet again.

  32. Wayne David’s rather revealing article highlights the fact that Welsh Labour MPs are actually part of an Imperial Tweedledum and Tweedledee Party, whose two wings usually take power in turns. They cannot countenance a threat to their corrosive duopoly.

    I have great respect for the early Socialists who tried – with significant early successes – to convert, from within, the Imperial Edifice into a just and redistributionist state. But Wayne David and his colleagues must see that the game is up, and should surely ask themselves how now to best serve their Socialist principles. The Imperialist (and reactionary) Westminster State is a failing state. Time and tide may well not wait for the MPs but don’t let them take us down with them.

  33. @PR. Who famously said, “You cannot buck the market”. If you just keep pass money from richer/better situated areas to poorer one’s then what is the incentive of the latter to change many public policies to get spending/economic benefits into balance. A ‘market’ approach to ALL public services is needed in Wales if we are to get people/payers to force changes into provision of services and get better value for money. If people want minority ‘services’ like S4C then let them pay for it directly, and EVERYONE should pay to see a GP and make a small contribution for prescription drugs. They do the latter in the Irish republic, which used to be the favourite foreign country for welsh NATS and BBC Wales.

    The idea of separating us from the UK is sheer fantasy, at least without oil being discovered in very large amounts underneath us. In time when services collapse because of the internal problems in Welsh society/lack of cash then the whole DEVO project will also collapse.In the future the economic imperatives will be to force down costs in public sector. However, we in Wales seem very loathe to grasp any problem without someone else forcing down certain paths. I wonder how many young/talented Welsh people are working ‘over the border’,and particularly in London/SE as that’s where jobs are to be found?.

  34. belowlandsker “The cities of Britain are some of the most multi-cultural in the world and this is wholly in line with the ethos and policies of unionist British Parties.”

    Multi-cultural means nothing. Multiple cultures have always exited in Britain and the rest of the world. Only Little England Imperialst Unionists dream of a monocultural English Britain. If David Cameron and his fellow Unionists are so “British” why don’t they learn to speak the British languages of Welsh, Gaelic and Cornish? They’ll insist that incommers must be forced to speak English but will not say the same for Welsh, Gaelic and Cornish. So don’t be misled by them using the term “Multicultural”. It’s like the the former East Germany calling itself the German ‘Democratic’ republic.

    Welsh speakers bridge two cultures, but someone can only really belong to one. Many Plaid Cymru members I know speak even more than just two languages.

    As for “…couldn’t even tolerate non Welsh speaking children from the Midlands coming temporarily to rural Wales to avoid being bombed in the war!” I would point out that neither the parents nor children of London or the English Midlands wanted to be sent away either. It’s Why the Churchill Government stopped it. They were also sent to other parts of England where some people were kind to them, some were cruel to them and others didn’t want them. I think they even shipped them to Canada with the same results.

    I think you ought to broaden your mind. Unionism was the start of the Empire and the bedrock of it and it was all about subjugation and exploitation of “inferior” peoples. That’s not broad-minded either!

    As for the

  35. Ben,
    In response to your points:

    1. ” The Welsh Language Board (public funded) last night defended giving £68,000 of public money to a group that organised a protest outside the Assembly Government’s tent at the National Eisteddfod.Rhieni dros Addysg Gymraeg (RhAg – Parents for Welsh-Medium Education) mobilised the demonstration ……”.
    I clearly stated direct and INDIRECT funding in my original post

    2. “the Urdd is set to receive over £620,000 in Welsh Government funding” ref:

    I dont know whether to feel sorry for you on this point… you cant honestly believe that the Urdd is self sufficient. Please note that this 620k was just a top up grant to build accomodation i.e. in addition to its massive annual funding.

    3. Not sure what point you are trying to make here… is it that we should expect Welsh language radio to receive vastly more money per listener than English language radio?

    4. Again your point is garbled. I said it receives public funding and special treatment (i.e. last minute Welsh government money) and it clearly does! need I provide another link? I note you have provided none for your claims.

  36. Gwyn,

    I respect your passion and I can understand that you are frustrated that Cameron et. al. ignore Welsh speaking culture. However, the harsh reality is that if you dont speak Welsh, the culture is all but invisible and therefore easy to ignore… and that’s true even if you’ve lived here all your life like me, let alone in some cosy etonion environment a couple of hours up the M4.

    With regards to your comments about multi-culturalism and ‘little england’ unionists not wanting it…. I could make exactly the same argument about Welsh nationalists wanting to erase the culture and history of places like South Pembrokeshire. They have no respect for our unique culture, our unique diallect (as its unrelated to Welsh) and our extremely old (but again not Welsh) placenames.

  37. @HM
    “The idea of separating us from the UK is sheer fantasy, “.
    It is sheer fantasy to imagine that Wales will endure the sufferings arising from remaining in the tributary GB economy run by england, for england. It is a fantasy in which you english have engaged every time a nation proposes its freedom from english control. Every time, you english say it’ll never work, and every time that country (after a transition period) ends up conspicuously better off than it was. You were wrong when you said it of the American colonies and your wrong now. You english are hopelessly addicted to the drug-fantasy that you are important and popular and everyone loves & needs you.
    England’s greater wealth is built on a tributary economy which moves wealth from GB’s provinces to SEEngland. This grand plunder continues under the lie that this is the “free market”-and you’re disseminating that lie now. Lies don’t work when we can all see the operation of the truth in front of us.

  38. @belowlansker – No need to be rude and make references of ”pity” if you disagree. The Urdd is a massive organisation, that was my point. It receives government money, what’s wrong with that? It has its own incomes as well. The point with Radio Cornwall was rather obvious actually; English will have a lot more listeners than Welsh will, due to difference in audience size. Tafwyl attracts visitors and raises the profile of Welsh in the city. Cardiff Council tried to scrap it, hardly think £20,000 would have been a massive saving, it’s a huge authority.

  39. Ben,
    Dont throw smoke over the issue! You called my comments ‘absurd’ and then said the following
    “The Urdd has been in existence since 1922, has over 50,000 members, 1,500 branches over the whole of Wales, and has an annual turnover (THROUGH IT’S OWN FUNDING)ough its own funding) of about £6 million a year.”

    I proved you wrong with references on both counts. What more does it take for a Welsh nationalist to admit he was wrong?!?

  40. @Belowlandsker- an NGO can still be independent from government and lobby it despite receiving some government funding. Rhieni dros Addysg Gymraeg did indeed receive money from the now disbanded Bwrdd yr Iaith to help campaign for Welsh mudium eductation and it is a parent led organisation that campaigns on belhalf of other parents, you are confused as to what a n NGO is.

    They are not totally dependent on the government. The old Bwrdd’s granting scheme was done by officials with in the board, it was a quango and as such even though it was centrally funded it could give money to whoever it wished, hence RhAG being able to stage a protest outside the Welsh Government tent.

    The Urdd does receive public money, and my point was that this is acceptable due to its size, history and significance in the history of Wales and its importance to language planning. I did not deny that it receives grants. A lot of its income comes from gifts and sponsors, as well as membership fees. I said that it is also self sufficient in some capacity as it does have its own income as well and that turnover quoted above is an example, here is the evidence for the year 2010-11 for example

    Typical arrogant attitude, it’s Welsh so it must be funded by government. The income of both the organizations above vary greatly from grants, gifts, self sufficient income and sponsorship. I’m afraid your simplistic postage stamp response – ”I pay for it all” is way of the mark, as the annual report for 2010 shows above.

  41. ” The income of both the organizations above vary greatly from grants, gifts, self sufficient income and sponsorship”

    I have watched RHAG closely since 2005. In all that time its funding, virtually in its entirety, has come from the Welsh Language Board. You can check its irregularly posted accounts to confirm this.

    Apart from the regular £34,000 from the WLB in 2010 the rest is chicken feed. However, the grant funding of RHAG is no longer from the WLB (Defunct) but direct from the Welsh Government and you can see this in the FOI request about their funding. However the WG were shy of revealing the total funding received by RHAG and only owned up to the last few years. You can look at the WLB archive to see the history of funding for RHAG and its former incarnation.

    “I am enclosing the information which you requested, based on my interpretation of your request which is as follows.

    Financial Year, Funder, Amount (£)
    2011 – 2012, Welsh Language Board, 34,183
    2012- 2013*, Welsh Language Board, 34,183
    2013 – 2014, Welsh Government, 35,140
    Total, 103,506

    *On the 1 April 2012 the responsibility for promoting the use of the Welsh language and for administering grants in support of the language transferred from the Welsh Language Board to the Welsh Government.”

    The URDD can generate its own funding to a degree but we should consider how it does this. For the most part the URDD runs courses that are paid for partly by parents and partly from subsidy by LEAs. This is a captive market and an indirect transfer from teaxation via LEAs. They do also receive a number of bequests but they would fold as an organisation without direct and indirect Government funding.

  42. Ben,
    You seem to be having trouble with this so let me quote you verbatim:
    you said to me in your most recent post:
    “you are confused as to what an NGO is”
    No I am not. Please show me where I have written that RhAG is or isn’t an NGO? I havent said either way. I wrote very clearly on June 13th at 9:34am that:
    “Welsh medium schools receiving more funding both direct and INDIRECTLY (from organisations such as RhAG)”
    You banging on about me not knowing what an NGO is purely to massage your own ego… making yourself think you’re somehow winning by constructing a tangeant arguement that I’m not even partaking in.
    on june 14th at 12:49 you wrote
    “RhAG is a NGO, not a government funded body.”
    again irrelevant as I didn’t specify whether they received government money directly or indirectly

    With regards to the Urdd…. you said in your most recent post:
    “I said that it is also self sufficient in SOME CAPACITY”
    did you indeed? That’s funny because that seems somewhat at odds with your statement on June 14th at 12:49 am that:
    “The Urdd has been in existence since 1922, has over 50,000 members, 1,500 branches over the whole of Wales, and has an annual turnover (THROUGH IT’S OWN FUNDNIG) of about £6 million a year.”

    You seem to be doing an awful lot of backtracking and subtle changes to what you are saying as you go Ben. The trouble for you of course is that your original statements are still there in black and white for comparison… you just have to scroll up a bit!

  43. @Jon- interesting comments. However you have agreed totally with what I said, that the Urdd does receive money from gifts and does generate its own income to a degree. I never said it didn’t receive money from public funding, and why shouldn’t it? If the average annual grant was about 35,000, yet their overall turnover was about £6 million, they must be getting their money from plenty of other sources. The organization has done great things for children in Wales for generations, so lets not get carried away about FOI requests and how much we give them a year.

    @Belowlandsker- Through its own funding yes, I still stand by that. I never said that all the £6 million comes from grants alone, or its own revenue.

    People must have very boring lives if they obsess over how much the Urdd righteously receives from central and local government.

  44. ” The organization has done great things for (Welsh Speaking) children in Wales for generations,” And there’s the problem, Ben. A country giving millions year after year for a minority of its children.

    The reason why people like me make FOI requests is because people like you tell porky pies. It does do some good though, after you quoted the 2004 Welsh language use survey to illustrate how many people used Welsh daily I, of course, looked at the completed 2006 version of the survey. Subsequently I made a FOI request to the Welsh National Survey team who have just completed the 2012-2013 population questionnaire.
    Now I can update the Welsh Language use survey even further:
    Number of people who speak Welsh Daily 44% of those able to speak Welsh
    Number who speak Weekly…………………….14%
    Less often……………………………………………..29%

    Interesting isn’t it? 14% of people who can speak Welsh (to some degree) never actually speak it and the percentage speaking Welsh daily has plummeted from 63% to 44%…always supposing the methodology was identical.
    Another interesting statistic is the number who can speak Welsh Fluently:
    In 1992 63% of Welsh speakers said that they spoke Welsh fluently.
    in the 2004-2006 Survey the figure was 58% of Welsh speakers fluent.
    In the 2012-2013 Welsh Survey 42% of Welsh speakers said that they could speak Welsh fluently.
    15% said they spoke a fair amount.
    27% said they spoke only a little and
    16% said that they spoke a few words.

    What is fascinating is that this catastrophe for the language hasn’t made any headlines….has gone unreported and unremarked upon. Wales is obsessed with that headline figure of people who say that they ” Can speak Welsh”……a meaningless figure without knowing that 16% of those who said that, were capable of just one or two words. Equally meaningless without knowing that 14% of those who can speak Welsh never do.

    Anyway, I just thought that I would share that with you. On the plus side face to face surveys usually give a higher overall percentage who say that they can speak Welsh and so it is in this case……24% claimed to be able to speak Welsh to some degree. But even bringing the figures in line with the census the collapse in the numbers of fluent speakers is stark.

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