No sooner did our long hot summer come to an abrupt end than the autumnal storm cycle began and people started mentioning how many weeks (or days, even) it will be until Christmas. Time, then, for the Autumn/Winter edition of the welsh agenda.
This issue we look back at what Daran Hill calls a ‘summer of coups’. The First Minister’s hotseat is still up for grabs within Welsh Labour, of course, and Hill argues that the ‘tediously long time [the contest has taken] to get shape and candidates… suits only [Labour] and… its outgoing and bruised leader Carwyn Jones.’ He contrasts this with the ‘rapidity and brutal transition[s]’ that have taken place across the Assembly in Plaid Cymru, the Conservatives and UKIP in a piece that pulls no punches in analysing what Hill sees as the ‘distinct similarity’ between the demises of Caroline Jones and Leanne Wood.
Following Plaid Cymru’s motion of no confidence in the Secretary of State for Wales, we also feature the role of the Wales Office and its current incumbent minister. Alun Cairns gives an exclusive interview to Anthony Pickles, and former senior civil servant Bill Jeffrey picks through the arguments about the necessity of having ‘territorial secretaries of state’ in the age of devolution. Cairns, of course, is adamant: ‘If my department didn’t exist, there would be a demand for one to make sure Wales is understood in Whitehall.’
Our other main focus this issue is the NHS. We mark the service’s seventieth anniversary by looking back at its formation – inevitably Aneurin Bevan features, and there’s a piece by Colin Thomas looking at A.J. Cronin’s novel The Citadel, recently serialised on Radio 4 – but also by assessing its future.
Our cover stars this time around are two Aneira Thomases, one famous as the first baby born on the NHS, the other her namesake born in late 2017. We asked the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Sally Holland, and Older People’s Commissioner Heléna Herklots to consider how the NHS might reinvent itself to meet the growing demands on the service from both ends of the age spectrum. Indeed, social care is identified as a major pressure point across a number of articles in this issue, with economist Gerry Holtham expanding on his recommendation for a social care levy, and community organiser Jonathan Cox arguing that such a tax would allow Wales to once again set a moral agenda worthy of Bevan’s legacy.
Elsewhere, a future-focused issue explores innovative new higher education provision planned for the Black Mountains, plans for regeneration through leveraging the industrial heritage of Merthyr Tydfil, and the IWA’s own smart region project, bringing together a range of stakeholders to drive tech innovation across the Cardiff Capital Region.
In an expanded Culture section, poet Owen Sheers talks to Merlin Gable about his own contribution to the NHS70 celebrations, To Provide All People, a film-poem in the mode of last year’s Aberfan commemoration, The Green Hollow, while one of the IWA’s Next Thirty Rhian Elizabeth talks to poet clare e. potter about her latest collection, ‘The Last Polar Bear on Earth’.
It all adds up to a rigorous look at contemporary Wales and some of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead across a wide range of fields. Make sure you get hold of a copy.
Members of the IWA will receive their copy of the welsh agenda this week, and you can join the IWA here. We are also always seeking contributions of articles and ideas for the welsh agenda. If you’d like to write for us, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
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