The One-And-A-Half-Party state

Adam Price gives a pre-election rallying cry that reverberates far beyond the confines of his own party

It’s time to state some inconvenient truths. Indeed, in Welsh politics, perhaps even the truth that dare not speak its name: devolution has failed. At least according to the terms it set itself.  Yes, we do have a functioning system of government – which, when we eye developments in Belfast, is something we should never take for granted. There have been plenty of praiseworthy initiatives and innovations, many of which have graced the pages of this publication – from the Welsh Baccalaureate to the plastic bag tax. Yes, the Assembly has sheltered us from the worst banalities of Westminster government – Tory, Lib Dem and Labour. But devolution was meant to be so much more than a dented shield.  When it comes to the fundamentals, improving our public services and our economy, the system has failed the people of Wales. And in this, our failing democracy, they are the only ones that can fix things.

The word crisis is bandied about too liberally in the political lexicon, of course – and on the streets, in the bars and cafes of any Welsh town there is certainly nothing like the air of popular insurgency that first swept the SNP to power and then brought a nation to within a 5% swing of freedom. Satisfaction with the Welsh Government is just above average – which is probably a fair assessment. Devolution has not been the unmitigated disaster that its detractors predicted. But neither has there been the devolution dividend – in health, education or the economy – that was promised.  In terms of the national mood, in culture and sport there has been plenty to cheer. But there isn’t that palpable sense, all-pervasive at the Assembly’s birth, that a democratic wave was going to usher in a new era of transformative change, that though a small country, we could dare to think big.

Let’s ditch the hyperbole and check the facts for those three core determinants of happiness, how well we learn, live and earn. Education is an area that we might have expected would flourish with devolution. Wales has a long history as a pioneer: the first to create local education authorities, a national system of inspection and the first comprehensive school. By the beginning of the Assembly, despite the added challenges that higher levels of poverty represented, Wales still had a record of pupil achievement at 15 years of age almost identical to that of England. Since then our level of pupil achievement, relative to England and other comparator countries, has gone backwards – so much so that a former Welsh Education Minister, was forced to admit a ‘systemic crisis.’

Because of differences in qualifications and changes in the way that education statistics are gathered it is difficult to compare Wales to the other nations of the UK consistently over the last twenty years. But using figures for the percentage achieving A* to C grades from 1998/99 to 2005/06 we see Wales swapping  a position of level-pegging at the start of devolution, to one of almost 6 percentage points by the middle of the last decade.

The gap in this set of statistics closed though the major reason is likely to be a widening of the definition of what constitutes ‘vocational equivalents’ to GCSEs in Wales from 2006/07 onwards. Using the slightly stricter data set of 5 GCSE A*-C grades, including English/Welsh or Maths we see the gap widening to almost 5 percentage points by 2012/13 (again differences in definitions following changes introduced in England make more recent comparisons difficult) (see Chart). A parallel gap in the proportions of students in Wales achieving A or A* grades at A Level compared to England and northern Ireland was noted by former Secretary of State for Wales, Paul Murphy, as part of an inquiry into the steep decline in admissions to Oxbridge from Wales.

Perhaps the most damning evidence of all is the slide in the international rankings of Welsh 15 year olds abilities’ in Reading, Maths and Science produced by the OECD.  Wales has been tested three times since 2006 and we have slid ever further down the league table, now languishing well below the PISA average and significantly below the other UK nations. The Welsh education system is failing at both ends of the ability spectrum, according to the OECD, with ‘a high proportion of low performers and a low proportion of high performers.’ So much so that a country once synonymous with educational excellence has now become a laggard. If the Welsh Government was subject to the kind of rigorous assessment that schools and local education authorities are subjected to then it’s hard to escape the conclusion that its Education Department would long ago have been placed in special measures.

As the birthplace of the NHS, health is also an area in which we might have expected to excel. The picture here, however, is equally troubling. The ‘Gold Standard’ in comparing the effectiveness of national health systems worldwide is ‘avoidable deaths’ (i.e. those deaths that could be prevented through healthcare or public health interventions). The number of avoidable deaths continues to decline in Wales as is universally the case among developed countries. But the proportion of avoidable deaths in overall deaths remains significantly higher than England. The preventable mortality rate has also declined more slowly in Wales – 2% less overall over the period 2001-2013. If these seem like small numbers then it’s worth noting that if Wales had kept pace with the region in England with the most similar health profile – the North East, which has declined by 36% compared to Wales’ 28% over the same time period – then more than 800 people in Wales every year would avoid unnecessary deaths. As this is a cumulative failure, it amounts to thousands of avoidable deaths over the course of the last decade and a half.

Though many of the interventions necessary to save these lives are in the area of public health – an area where Wales, in the 1980s, was seen by the WHO as something of a world leader – it’s likely that Wales’ appalling record on waiting times is also contributory factor. By the end of July of this year, 27,313 patients had been waiting more than 36 weeks for their treatment, the highest number on record ever, and an almost fourfold increase since 2011. This cannot be so easily dismissed as Daily Mail propaganda. The Nuffield Foundation confirmed in a comprehensive study last year that waiting times for hip and knee replacements in Wales were on average 100 days longer than in England or Scotland – and waiting times for life-saving coronary bypasses or sight-saving cataracts had also declined. Figures provided by the Wales Audit Office in its systematic analysis of the problem earlier in the year showed that the median waiting time for a patient in Wales was about five to six weeks longer  than in England, but, for those waiting the longest – the 95th percentile – it was 33 weeks in Wales, compared to 19 weeks in England.

Turning to Wales’ dismal economic performance, it is fair to say it has been referenced so often in these pages there’s little need to dwell on it again.  But given the emphasis in Labour’s case for devolution in 1997 on the economic dividend it is at least worth pointing out that relative to the EU and to the UK, we are worse off now than we were then – down from 85% of the EU-28 per capita GVA in 2000 to 74% in 2011, and from 73.8% of UK average income in 1997 to 72.2% in 2013 (see Charts). The payback for Welsh voters’ twenty-year-long loyalty to Labour it seems has been a decidedly negative return on their investment.

It’s important to remember that behind these statistics lies the human cost of reduced earnings, lower grades and shorter lives. Individual explanations of failure will differ according to ideological prejudice. Is the failure in education due to an accountability gap – the decision not to test and publish league tables, or the lower amount of school funding per pupil? Is the failure in health the result of shutting out the private sector, or the decision post-austerity to cut health spending in real terms? I think if we really want to understand these multiple failures (which are repeated across other areas of policy not covered here) then we have to look for a deeper, more systemic cause.

By the time of next year’s Assembly elections the Labour Party will have governed Wales at a national level for an unbroken nineteen years.  This makes it the longest serving administration of any country in the whole of the European Union. It’s not hard to realise why this might lead to problems. Every democracy needs the genuine possibility of political change. The pendulum swing of an alternative government brings with it new ideas and new leadership, the lifeblood of renewal.  The opposite is stasis, inertia, fatigue.  Croeso i Gymru.

Welsh democracy is a ‘one-and-a-half-party state’ as the Labour Party is perpetually in government – though never yet as a majority government.  A dominant minority-party may sound like something of an oxymoron, but it uniquely describes the peculiarities of the Welsh political system. It also perhaps represents the circuitry of power in Wales, neither fully closed nor fully open and always eventually leading back to Labour. It’s a lesson that coalition parties – the half-parties co-opted through necessity – have had to learn to their cost.

There are, of course, plenty of examples of one-party dominated democracies – Gaullist France, LDP-led Japan or Swedish social democracy – that proved very successful, for a time. One of the reasons for this was that they created key institutions beyond the central state: France’s ENA training ground for technocrats or Japan’s MITI industrial policy powerhouse, for example. In Wales, we did the opposite, shutting down one of the few capable institutions we had, in the form of the Welsh Development Agency, in a fit of political hubris.

Even the smartest of single-party hegemonies eventually run out of steam.  Starved of the oxygen of new ideas, dominant parties become sclerotic, an ugly word for an ugly phenomenon: the furring of the arteries of a political system. I don’t think it’s uncharitable or sectarian to suggest that we are long past that point in Wales.

The problem has not been, as is sometimes said, a lack of ambition. The targets that have been set from time to time have been bold and laudable: achieving a GVA of 90% of the UK average by 2010, being among the top 8 European countries for cancer survival by 2015 or the top 20 worldwide in the PISA education rankings by next year. The problem was not the aim, but the lack of a coherent vision and the kind of collective leadership necessary to achieve them. When ministers and priorities changed, the targets were quietly dropped.

Those with a sentimental attachment to the Labour Party may hold out hope that it will be possible to renew Welsh Labour from within. I genuinely wish them luck, but political history suggests this can only be done seriously in Opposition. It’s precisely that opportunity for reinvention that Jeremy Corbyn has grasped at the UK level. But it’s difficult to see Corbynism as a constructive challenge to the policies of Welsh Labour. Indeed, the new Leader has gone out of his way to praise Carwyn Jones’ government as a model for the UK. Neal Lawson of Compass has described the big divide in modern politics being between incumbent Black Cabs, the mainstream establishment in power for years, fighting off the challenges of insurgent Ubers.  When Jeremy, the Uberista, pitches up at Cardiff Central, it’s a Black Cab he’ll find waiting to take him to down to the Bay.

As a Plaid Cymru candidate for the Assembly, it’s no surprise that my hope lies in the kind of ‘velvet revolution’ we saw in Scotland in 2007. Nothing would shake up the complacency of our policy and political establishment that, let’s face it, have failed to deliver on so many fronts, than these four words: First Minister Leanne Wood. If you think this is a little optimistic then take a look at Alberta, which in May this year, saw a 44-year unbroken term of office by the Conservatives overturned by a New Democratic Party caucus that went from four seats to 53.  Change sometimes comes like an avalanche.

That’s not to say we should replace one party’s dominance with another.  Part of the very essence of what we were meant to be creating in the National Assembly was a new way of doing politics – open and collaborative, inclusive and diverse. There were signs of that in the first Assembly – the inter-party collaboration that despatched Alun Michael, the power of the Assembly Committees, the first coalition. But the adoption of a Westminster-style system of Government and Opposition has meant importing its values and its culture.

Two scenarios that cannot possibly deliver the change we need we can comfortably take off the table: a simple repeat of the One Wales government with Plaid as a junior partner or a Rainbow Coalition with a Conservative Party that has moved far and fast to the right. Either of those options would simply entrench the political establishments in Wales and Westminster. But other forms of cooperation between and beyond party should be explored to the utmost. In Wales such is the extent of the challenges we face, we need a ‘government of all the talents’ like never before.  We need to press Ctrl-Alt-Del in Cardiff Bay and create a new high bandwidth democracy. One that recognises that no single party can have a monopoly on the truth, and that our collective intelligence consists of three million citizens, not sixty.

Adam Price is Plaid Cymru candidate for the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr seat at the next assembly election, in 2016. This article was first published in the IWA's magazine, the Welsh agenda. To get a copy of the magazine, please join the IWA here: http://www.iwa.org.uk/en/individual-member

23 thoughts on “The One-And-A-Half-Party state

  1. A well written piece that documents the failings of our current system. I look forward to an equally eloquent article that explains what exactly PC stands for and details how it might do things better in a manner that the majority in Wales considers inclusive.

  2. Mr.Price is an excellent writer, thinker and an admirable politician but…a statement that ‘our collective intelligence consists of 3 million citizens’ is bizarre. I have to ask what is a collective intelligence? Is it the Jungian concept of a group mind or something else and who said that the majority of us are actually ‘intelligent’ rather than emotional in the way we go about things?
    Where I agree with him is that politics can occasionally be ‘fractal’ in that the status quo that seems embedded and unassailable (like the red Tories) can suddenly shift without rhyme or particular reason. I don’t think the ‘change agents’ that might cause this in Wales are at all apparent at the moment and are probably not the political figures that are visible at the moment (and I include Mr Price). Politicians are usually way behind the curve when it comes to a fractal change in attitudes in the general public.
    Much as I would like Plaid Cymru to be at the forefront of any future changes to the political landscape my gut instinct tells me that it is too fractured internally along ancient divisions of class, religion, language and regional affiliation and with no real ‘unifying cause’ apart from opposing the Tories and espousing a far Left socialist ideology which doesn’t really resonate with me or most of the populace and, as Mr.Dixon has already eloquently pointed out, has stranded Plaid even further to the Left than the Corbynistas. Not that I am a betting man but I wish I had placed money on the outsider Corbyn when his odds were 100 to one. The challenge for me now is to put my tax credit money on an outside chance – will it be the kippers or a resurgent Labour? Perhaps I should wait for the fractal shift or use my collective intelligence?
    Mr.Price has also written extensively about ‘flotillas’ of small nations converging as a way of competing in a global economy.This is brilliant bluesky thinking but we all know what happens to small boats in rough seas!

  3. As much as I admire Plaid’s spirit for wanting to replace Welsh Labour in the same way that the SNP did in Scotland, they do not have anywhere near that level of support and the only way to be rid of Welsh Labour is for Plaid to work with the Welsh conservatives and Welsh lib dems.

    Unfortunately, you will never ever ever get rid of the entrenched Labour mindset and vote in the valleys, and that’s where the majority of people live. As sad as it to say, it may well be that Plaid will be behind UKIP in May as I think that the party may be coming to its end.

  4. Adam Price should be Plaid Cymru leader. Let us hope that Plaid and the Conservatives can came to a pre-electoral pact. That way we can rid ourselves of Labour, and really start to reshape our nation.

  5. There are lots in the article that I would agree with. But, why oh why has it taken Plaid Cymru 17 yrs to wake up to the reality of Welsh politics. It has to accept a big share of the blame – too often it has been seen as Labour’s ‘helper’. In business terms a subsidiary of the parent company. After the establishment of the Assembly PC lost its way. Has to face up to that as the post on my blogspot on the eve of their Aberystwyth Conference highlighted. So the question has to be asked and only Plaid Cymru membership can answer it – What is Plaid Cymru for?. The leadership does not like the fact ‘ socialism’ has been predominating its strategy and thinking The ‘National Movement’ it once was is in the distant past. PC failed to show leadership in 2007 and they will live with the consequences I am afraid.

  6. @Dafydd Rhys Morgan- rather doomy and gloomy don’t you think? Plaid came very close to winning Ynys Mon and Ceredigion at the General Election, and its vote went up some constituencies which are practically owned by Labour. Most polls also put Plaid ahead of UKIP consistently.

  7. Plaid is a party in thrall to numerous “-isms” with Welsh nationalism only one, rather nebulous, item on the lengthy list. Appealing to its target voters – socialists, environmentalists, feminists, equal opportunists and the like – has become Plaid’s raison d’être, with calls for independence now consigned to the party’s history.

    Adam is certainly not speaking for Leanne, Stefan Lewis, Helen Mary Jones and various other wannabe AMs in this frank essay. Neil McEvoy (Plaid’s candidate in Cardiff West) wanted the prospect of a Plaid/Labour coalition, come May 2016, to be expressly forbidden, but couldn’t convince the party hierarchy to support his move.

    It is good that Adam has gone out on a limb to distance Plaid from Labour, but the reality is that the electorate in Leanne’s beloved Valleys (and beyond) now have three choices in 2016’s election:

    1 a rejuvenated, socialist Labour Party

    2 UKIP, who will undoubtably be exploiting the migrant crisis

    3 Plaid Cymru – who no longer support Welsh independence

    During Leanne’s speech to conference, Nicola Sturgeon’s face said it all. When Leanne uttered the words “and let me tell you…” for the second time in ten munutes – followed by some kind of threat or promise, Nicola’s mouth was smiling but her eyes were saying “Plaid are sooooo f*cked”

    What with all the clapping and cheering it really was a case of “the Empress’s new clothes” and I agree with Dafydd Rhys Morgan’s comment above. After next May Plaid, in its current form, will probably come to an end.

  8. A well written analysis of Wales`s post devolution problems but where are the solutions? Adam compares Welsh services unfavorably to those in England and yet he describes the Assembly as a dented shield that has protected us from the worst banalities of Westminster.Whilst that sentence may contain some truth, the logic of Price`s analysis is that the shield didn’t just deflect banalities. Is it too much to expect a Welsh Nationalist to admit that not all Westminster initiatives were bad.

    Welsh Labour has been politically successful for two decades because the main opposition party has only attacked it from the left. As long as it adopted policies that were different from England and perceived to be more left wing it was immune from Plaid Cymru challenge. I think Adam is generally correct pointing out that these policies have not been as not been as effective in delivering services as they have been in delivering votes.

  9. I don’t follow Plaid’s declarations at all closely but I was unaware that it had forsworn independence as an ultimate goal. I thought it had just implied it was not seeking immediate independence because it needed to build up the Welsh economy first to the point where it could support the Welsh population. The weakness in Plaid’s position does not stem from that dose of realism. After all, to balance the books in an independent Wales with the current economy would require public spending to be cut by 40 per cent from current levels. The Welsh electorate are not masochistic enough for that. Plaid’s weakness comes because it has not got over to the public a plausible set of policies to achieve its aim of growing the economy. If it did, the Valleys could swing. Some have voted Plaid in the past and some are now voting UKIP. More don’t vote at all. Labour’s grip is loosening.

  10. More typical waffle from Adam Price, a lot of rhetoric, no concrete proposals and barely mentions the defining feature of politics – austerity and neoliberalism. What is Adam Price actually proposing in this article advances a radical agenda.
    Usually when he flickers on my radar it is colouring a right wing trajectory with phrases from the radical left . Recall when he was quoting(abusing) Antonio Gramsci, a revolutionary marxist, to justify a coalition with LibDems and Tories. Or his next big idea that Plaid should reach out to the LibDems for a coaliton, at a time when the latter was in coalition with Tories in Westminster and disintegrating, or his argument that Plaid should be prepared to prop up Tories in a hung parliament if it could get some good concessions.

  11. Mr Price is a little duplicitous but, hey, he’s a politician and there’s an election coming up. It’s fine to criticise Education in Wales; I do so all the time myself, but he should be more honest. He compares the Welsh Health system to that of the North East rather than England as a whole but the more exact comparison would be with North Yorkshire and Humberside. Similarly he should use North Yorkshire and Humberside as the truer comparison with Wales in education. In England the percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals has remained lower than the percentage in Wales by about 2% over the years of devolution. More importantly, as the Millennium Cohort Study discovered, a higher percentage of pupils in Wales have, at some time in their school lives, been eligible for free school meals than any region of England and a higher percentage have spent all of their school lives in deprivation. Wales has greater challenges than any other region.

    The difficulties involved in making a fair comparison with England have now reached the stage where it is an impossible task; England has tightened its standards and Wales, newly introduce to “League tables” (Banding) and rigorous target setting and data analysis, is now gaming the system in much the same way that England did 8 years ago. PISA now remains the only means of comparison and one aspect of what Mr Price says rings true; Wales under performs at both ends of the spectrum of achievement. We don’t have enough high performing pupils and we have too many low performing pupils.

    Adam Price may not like this analysis of why that happens; much of the problem lies with the endless emphasis on the much loved Welsh language and the drive to persuade parents to put their children in Welsh Medium schools. It’s not just the obvious overloading of the curriculum, its the failure of Welsh medium schools to compete with English medium schools with a similar socio-economic profile.

    If, for instance, you look at the schools that will produce the best results at GCSE, the schools with less than 7% of pupils eligible for FSMs (2014) English medium schools had 2226 pupils and WM schools had 1035 pupils in the cohort. Welsh medium schools provided 19% of all GCSE entries but 32% of the elite schools with the lowest levels of FSM pupils. When we look at the results however:- in Science 79% of WM pupils reached level 2 (A*-C) while 89% of EM pupils reached level 2. English; WM pupils 76%, EM pupils 84%. Maths; WM pupils 75%, EM pupils 83%. When a comparison is made of the high achieving pupils from this group of schools, pupils who get A*-B in Maths, English and Science combined: WM pupils 30% achieve this gold standard whilst 40% of EM pupils achieve this.

    Welsh medium schools have a disproportionate proportion of the pupils who should be excelling, 85% of WM secondary schools have less than 15% of their pupils eligible for free school meals but these pupils, who should be boosting our percentage of high achievers in PISA tests, are performing far below what would be expected of pupils in similar English medium schools.

    Of course there is no good reason why this situation has been allowed to exist for so long, I am confident that if at any time in the last 10 years our cowardly AMs had had the courage to shine a spot light on the problem, then the WM schools would have improved. Why didn’t it happen? Simple; no one is allowed to level even justifiable criticism at Welsh medium schooling in case the collective political will to create an all Welsh medium school system is undermined. Only in Wales could such wrong headed ideology, that damages our children, be perpetuated by every political party.

  12. @Dugsy- I assume you don’t put much faith in opinion polls and rises in constituency votes then? I assume you also do not agree that in Assembly elections Plaid do better in a number of seats, Llanelli being one of them which was only won by 80 votes by Labour the last time.

  13. @ J. Jones

    “Adam Price may not like this analysis of why that happens; much of the problem lies with the endless emphasis on the much loved Welsh language and the drive to persuade parents to put their children in Welsh Medium schools. It’s not just the obvious overloading of the curriculum, it’s the failure of Welsh medium schools to compete with English medium schools with a similar socio-economic profile.”

    As usual, it’s a good analysis but it’s one that a political class driven by ignorance and ideology rather than pedagogy are never going to accept. Their solution to failure will be the only one ideologists know = more of the same with the same failed outcome.

  14. Adam Price has opened up the narrative of first a failing devolution model for Wales and the cost of being so set against a one party political domination. He has sought fairness in the criticism where the scope for radicalism is thwarted by political myopia and introspection. Any association with policies from elsewhere and not weaved in Wales will hardly be regarded as fitting a need here. All important indices of a nations well being lag behind other nation and declining. To then suggest it’s because of the Welsh language, or regional biases or any other schisms seems to hide the truth of realism that something radical is not
    working.

    I do suggest that those who have framed their arguments of educational standards with English secondary
    schools should first compare Welsh Language schools with Welsh secondary schools per se. I’d like to see the results. It will reflect comments from Welsh minsters of concerns over lowering standards across Wales and not identifying Welsh Language schools as below others .

    The economic indicators give little comfort as the health indicators also show.

  15. J.Jones, how about deciding which subjects can be well taught in Welsh to a mixed-language class and which must be taught in English. Then allocate a day a week or whatever is required for Welsh tuition and the other days for English tuition. That would be the same for all schools, though the proportions may differ according to the language characteristics of the locality. Welsh language education would be maintained but the current apartheid system of schooling in English-speaking Wales would be abolished. This approach would also economize on Welsh language teachers who could circulate among schools who had their Welsh day(s) on different days of the week. Welsh instruction in what are now EM schools would be much improved, leveling the playing field. We should surely be able to devise a means to maintain our language and culture in a way which is more efficient and less discriminatory. They manage it in other small countries. Fewer people speak Icelandic than speak Welsh but they are not going to abandon it and they still educate everyone to a good standard and in English too.

  16. If I had to come up with an ideal solution Ross I would say that we have to have 3 different types of school: Teaching in Welsh at foundation stage for Welsh L1 pupils, Teaching in English exclusively for all other pupils at foundation stage and, at Key stage 2 teaching Welsh in an immersion setting for those English L1 pupils who want to become fluent in Welsh while all other pupils could choose which MFL they would like to receive lessons in.

    Countries that successfully teach English actually teach language skills and Maths skills in the home language first. It’s ridiculous in Wales that we try to teach language skills through a second language from age 4.

  17. JJ: You may be right but I cannot see that Welsh and other modern languages should exclude each other. Nor do I think children can choose not to do something without first having been exposed to it. Protic like prejudice exists but is not to be fostered.

  18. “That’s not to say we should replace one party’s dominance with another”

    Adam Price’s promise that Plaid will nobly refrain from winning lots of seats next May may invite mockery from some. Not me. I regard it as entirely deliverable.

  19. Its interesting that some of the reaction here to Adam Price’s piece talks more about different perceptions of Plaid – including fears and prejudice – than to what he is saying.

    Independence, though, means so many different things to so many people that it is next to useless as a political programme because of that imprecision. I take from what Adam says, ideally, that the people of this country should decide what is best for it, votes for those who will get that done, and shares that power (at whatever level) in order to achieve advanatge (scale, tactical, strategic). Democracy, after all is ‘government by the people’, and I can’t argue with that.

    The issue is, therefore, how do three million people regard themsleves, their communities and their place in the world. If we – at least – manage to steer the national discourse towards that, then we are more likely to raise our grades, live longer and be a bit better off. Aren’t we?

  20. Very perceptive analysis. Agree with Adam that Plaid has little to gain by maintaining Labour in power after May. The problem for that standpoint is that it works intellectually but not in practice. Plaid are too easily bought in and bought off, as they were just days before this article was written when they bailed out Labour over the Local Government Bill for a price so negligible it was barely discernible.

  21. Devolution has done amazing things for wales. Most of which the media are unaware of because of the media’s inability to report anything other than negative stories regarding devolution. I have also noticed many on this site don’t want devolution regardless of how good or bad it has been for wales. These people do not have the best interests of wales at heart and should not be taken seriously.
    Bellow is a list of what i could find after a short google search.
    A list of what devolution has given wales so far.
    Nine new hospitals and huge investment in new hospital equipment
    New Kidney Transplant Unit, PET scanner and Women’s Unit at UHW
    New Cardiff and Vale Breast Centre.
    North Wales exhibition centre in Colwyn Bay
    banning of smoking in public places
    The Transport (Wales) Bill
    The Commissioner for Older People (Wales) Bill
    The Draft Tourism Accommodation Registration (Wales) Bill.
    The LGBT staff network was
    Free bus travel for pensioners.
    More investment in schools, hospitals and doctors’ surgeries

    The new Porth/Rhondda Fach Relief Road in my constituency

    Leading the way in having an Older People’s Commissioner and Children’s Commissioner.

    The £48m ProAct scheme to provide funding for employers facing difficulties in the

    recession and thus safeguarding jobs in Wales.
    The much appreciated passenger railway line between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale
    Establishment of Farming Connect, an integrated advice service for farmers.
    The provision of free school milk for key stage one students in Wales.
    A more open and transparent democracy.
    Better access to the politicians who are making decisions and a better opportunity to influence the outcome of ministerial deliberations
    Biggest investment in school buildings ever.
    Thousands more teachers and teaching assistants.
    Thousands more modern apprenticeships
    Funding for eco-schools.
    Reduction in use of plastic bags.
    More Blue Flag beaches.
    Investment in renewable energy and recycling.
    Grants for insulation and new boilers
    The passing of the motion that ensured Welsh students did not pay top-up fees.
    The establishment of a new child-centred approach to early years education, particularly Foundation Phase.
    Advances in education including the 14 to 19 Pathways, Foundation Phase and the Welsh Baccalaureate.
    Devolution has had a positive impact which has resulted in Wales and its people growing in confidence.
    Achievement and use of European Structural Funds.
    Recognised the full effects of domestic violence and worked with voluntary organisations to support those threatened by it
    Provision of free services such as prescriptions, travel for older people and school breakfasts for primary school children.
    record levels of investment in public services
    free museums and free breakfasts
    free prescriptions
    Equal representation of men and women
    Reducing class sizes
    launch of a mortgage rescue scheme to help people faced with losing their homes
    Giving the opportunity for people to use Welsh or English in their daily lives
    Taking the market out of healthcare
    Better access and more help for good causes and charities, for example the extra £2m for
    the Aberfan Memorial Charity and the Aberfan Education Charity
    The establishment of the Swansea Medical School
    Securing the extra billions of investment from the European Union, through the Objective
    One and convergence funding programs.
    Record investment in former industrial areas
    Tackling social exclusion
    It has been able to establish and support important national institutions such as the Millennium Center and National Botanic Gardens
    free swimming for young people, over-60s and disabled people
    create a footpath right around the Welsh coastline is opening up our beautiful coast to all.
    Educational Maintenance Allowance kept for young people in Wales– scrapped in England
    Welsh Jobs Fund promised to create 4,000 jobs for young people
    The value of exports from Wales more than doubled between 1999 and 2013″ doubled since the set up of the assembly.

  22. Ross; no, modern foreign languages and Welsh aren’t mutually exclusive but I have said before how poor the delivery of MFLs is in WM schools and particularly in the schools of Anglesey and Gwynedd. Wales as a whole is a graveyard to MFL teaching but there are problems with just how much can be crammed into the teaching day and other problems of perception of worth.
    Like it or not, very many pupils do not value the Welsh language. In secondary schools in Wales in 2014 62,966 pupils were reported as able to speak Welsh but not fluently and another 63,915 were recorded as not able to speak Welsh at all.
    Compulsory Welsh doesn’t work, maybe optional Welsh would generate a higher quality of learning and greater commitment from pupils. Its not going to happen…don’t worry

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