Through a Welsh lens: IWA General Elections Explainers

A banner image including the title: Through a Welsh Lens - IWA General Election 2024 Explainers, in white against a blue background. The image is divided in two, with a picture of the Palace of Westminster on the right hand side. There is also a white drawing of a ballot box on the lower right corner of the blue portion of the banner.

Wales is heading to the polls on the 4th July to elect 32 members that will represent communities across the nation in Westminster Parliament.

Candidates standing for election are seeking to sit in the UK Parliament, working on policy areas which are reserved to the UK Government. This means they have the power to decide on issues affecting everyday life in Wales, including:

  • Defence
  • Immigration
  • Justice
  • Policing
  • The constitution
  • Foreign policy
  • and (most) taxation, benefits and pensions.

Beyond that, decisions based on devolved matters, those that Welsh Government control, will still have direct implications for the future of Wales’ budget through Barnett Consequentials (the mechanism through which additional spending in UK Government budgets in devolved areas feeds into the Welsh Block Grant, which represents most of Welsh Government’s budget). Whilst parties have suggested a commitment to continue to stick to existing budget forecasts, their policies on areas where the UK Government acts as an English Government, could thus still have implications.

Beyond that, the UK Government still hosts a number of powers and controls which set the context for not only Welsh Government, but also for Local Government across Wales. As such, the direction of travel that a UK Government seeks to put forward will have considerable implications for policies that affect Wales. For example, Wales’ journey to net zero is highly dependent on the pathways put forward by UK Government. Likewise, policies which set the direction on the economy at a UK level, will have a huge hand in setting the economic outlook for Wales over the years ahead, not least in the control of post-EU funding arrangements. UK Government, therefore, sets much of the conditions for government in Wales to operate within.

This election is the first to take place under new constituency boundaries, after a pan-UK exercise to equalise the number of voters per seat. Wales is significantly impacted by the changes, with the number of MPs representing Welsh constituencies falling from 40 to 32. This will lead to a loss of Welsh voice in Westminster. This will also mean that many are voting in constituencies which will look a little differently.

At the IWA, our vision is to help create a Wales where everyone can flourish, summarised in our mission to inspire Wales’ ambition. This means engaging in communicating, scrutinising and advocating for policy, at UK and Welsh Government levels, that can lead to better economic and democratic outcomes for the people of Wales. 

That’s why we are going to be releasing a number of election explainers over the course of this General Election campaign, seeking to inform people in Wales about what the election means for them. In doing so, we will highlight key policy areas in the campaign, taking a Welsh perspective to the debate.

We will also be laying out some of the ideas that the IWA has put forward over recent years to tackle major challenges we are facing in Wales, which we believe a UK Government should take forward. It is vital that any future UK Government takes an active interest in Wales, and provides clarity on the role of Wales in their vision for the UK.

IWA Election Explainers

Through a Welsh Lens: How the parties see Wales’ future

We put a set of key challenges facing Wales to the parties. We will be bringing you their answers as they come in – so keep an eye on our website.

Our challenges to the parties

A successful, green and fair economy

Wales’ economy faces three broad challenges: a lack of overall wealth, poverty and precarity for all too many, an urgent need to decarbonise and to benefit from the green economy, and a lack of fairness and equality for many workers and particularly those at the bottom of the income distribution. We therefore need to focus our work on a successful economy for Wales, a green economy for Wales, and a fair economy for Wales. Wales should learn from the best practice of other small nations that have better delivered both prosperity and equality for their people.

Challenge 1 – Successful

Since devolution, Wales’ economy has not improved substantially in comparison to the rest of the UK. Common problems persist, with an economy that fails to deliver the same level of opportunities to communities across Wales.

Post-EU funding arrangements have also acted to diminish Welsh Government’s role in implementing transformative regional economic development projects.

Given this context, how do you plan to reinvigorate Wales’ economy? What steps will you take to boost productivity, increase living standards and reduce regional inequalities?

Challenge 2 – Green

We know the vital role that government can play in stimulating economic growth. This will be equally vital as Wales looks to decarbonise its economy, unleashing economic opportunities. As our Re-energising Wales series identified, renewable energy, as one example, offers numerous opportunities to drive economic growth.

How will your party ensure that the opportunities offered by Wales’ net zero journey are felt in Wales’ economy, in its broadest sense?

Challenge 3 – Fair

Wales’ economy is failing to deliver for low-and-middle income households in a number of areas with:

How will you seek to rebalance the Welsh economy to lift people out of poverty and improve living standards for low-and-middle income households?

A healthy, confident and inclusive democracy

At the IWA, we want to see a Wales with a healthy, confident and inclusive democracy. A democracy where everyone is equally able to access and exercise their rights. Our work aims to improve Wales’ people’s understanding of and engagement with our democracy, and the accountability and transparency of our politicians. We want to see Wales’ civic sphere grow and strengthen through the development of a more robust media. We want to challenge and overturn Wales’ democratic deficit and support the broadening of Wales’ public sector.

Challenge 4 – Media

Wales’ media stands at a precipice, with multiple challenges facing it, from sustainable financing, commercial failings and a UK-wide media dominating consumption figures. At the IWA, we conceive of our media as a public service, to help people scrutinise and hold decision-makers to account. When who makes the decisions affecting our lives is often muddy, under an ever-changing devolution settlement, it is vital that we have a robust, sustainable media landscape. To do this we must strengthen our media sector.

If in power, what actions will you take to strengthen our media ecosystem – ensuring that it is fit for purpose in supporting democratic engagement across the nation?

Challenge 5 – Democracy

Turnout in elections in Wales continues to fall and there remains a gap between Senedd and UK elections. This is troubling, yet, it is the tip of the political participation iceberg. In fact, the very way that we conceive of democratic engagement must be expanded to account for the many ways that democratic processes are part of our everyday lives, in activities that go far beyond the ballot box.

So, whilst the figures are bleak, there are green shoots that should look to build on the energy in Wales to do democracy differently.

How will your party look to reinvigorate Wales’ democracy, overcoming its current democratic malaise?

The parties’ answers

Gofod i drafod, dadlau, ac ymchwilio.
Cefnogwch brif felin drafod annibynnol Cymru.