Sunday, September 30, 2018


The recent Old / former New Labour conference might suggest that Labour has got its mojo back and the party now believes that it can win the next Westminster general election. The bearded one has described himself as a democratic socialist - his unionism (not the Trade variety) is never mentioned. 

To be blunt the articulated vision of a democratic socialist UK which does not have a place for our national interest(s) which don't feature on the centralising statist agenda, that’s like something out of the mid to late 1970’s. The problem is that the bearded one's vision / version is neither that democratic or that socialist, at least from a Welsh or Scottish perspective, and neither is is particularly original, visionary  or new - it also never delivered last time, so why should it this time around?

If it were possible to remove the Scottish parliament and our as yet not fully fledged embryonic parliament, I am sure that JC and his Brit Nat centralist ilk would not hesitate for a moment. They would happily lay down their rhetorical lives for Ireland, or Palestine or other deserving blue water causes whilst quietly pining for a centralised British republic; and maintaining an unhealthy patronising metropolitan scorn for any political aspirations aspired too by any of the other nations that inhabit this often rain swept island archipelago.

Yet these so called democratic socialists remain strangely silent when it comes to matters relating to Wales, Scotland or Cornwall or even England for that matter, along with displaying spectacular perhaps Islington or metropolitan centric ignorance or dismissive patronising contempt (worthy of comparison of the rhetoric used by some Russian nationalists with their patronising dismissal of Ukraine and other historic nations in and around Russia) of any and all devolved matters outside of the M25.

Despite the beardy spin, this is the same old centralist enemy - with the same old rebranded statist solutions - which outside of the short term spectacularly failed to deliver for us last time. We, in Wales, have been here before. The centralists have promised much and delivered little that was lasting, save for a faint echos or faint ghosts of long departed industrial and regional development. 

Don’t get me wrong, ending the ideologically driven idiocy that has reduced our railways to a poor dividend profit driven service would / will be a good thing. The problem is that Westminster can not be trusted to leave any rail service to run itself. 

I would prefer the not for dividend profit but independent of day to day, week to week, month to month interference from Westminster, but democratically accountable and democratically responsive model to any Westminster accountable / controlled reborn version of British rail. Personally I would prefer public sector institutions to be run on a not for dividend profit model and firmly at arms length from Westminster.

Our nation, as one of the poorer parts of the European Union, will have received more than £5 billion in so-called structural funds by 2020. The funding from Brussels has been used for a wide variety of diverse infrastructure projects from the Ponty Lido, Swansea University's Bay Campus, the Heads of the Valleys road, Harbour Way link road and the National Sailing Academy at Pwllheli. 

EU funding has also been used to fund educational and training courses and programmes via our Universities and colleges. I still think that the Welsh government should carry out a fully comprehensive review of just exactly on what and how the money has been spent along with examining in detail how the funds were spent and what the end results were - before any future funds are thrown at any potential problems and projects. 

One of the consequences of BREXIT is that this source of funding will cease. The Conservatives have said the new Shared Prosperity Fund is intended to reduce inequalities across the four UK nations. Thats if you believe them, especially considering that they blocked regional aid to Wales in the 1980’s and early 1990’s and considering that one of the underlying feature of the UK has always been that of it's heavy handed unsubtle centralism. 

This centralism has never really gone away despite the roll out of differing levels of devolution to redress the democratic deficit in the late 1990’s.  The civil service, at least in England and Wales, appears to continue to behave as if devolution has not happened. Until there is a Wales based Cymru / Wales focused civil service this state of affairs is likely to continue. 

Some twenty years down the line of all the devolved nations and provinces Scotland still has the best devolutionary deal, followed in second place by Northern Ireland - even in its current suspended state. Wales trails in a poor third - with  a relatively weak devolutionary settlement - something that suits the majority of Labour in Wales representatives in Cardiff Bay and beyond - who lie awake at night dreaming of Labour in Westminster winning and riding to the rescue. 

It’s important to remember that the last time they were in power at Westminster between 1997 and 2010.  Labour had a sizeable majority and pretty much the power to do whatever they wanted to do. Labour in Westminster didn’t come riding to the rescue then, so don't expect them to do so next time. 

Post Brexit both the Conservatives and the party formerly known as New Labour will eagerly grasp the opportunity to build their vision of a new centralist aggressively Brit Nationalist union. The Brit Nat drum will be thoroughly beaten to drum up Brit Nat sentiment and sentimentality / nostalgic pap to drown out any criticism - constructive or otherwise. We should remember that direct Westminster-rule failed to deliver for much of Wales (beyond the shirt-term) for most of my lifetime. 

Even before I was born the great hopes of the future proved to GD unsustainable beyond the medium term - British Nylon Sunners (in Mamhilad, north of Pontypool (gone), BSC / RTB Llanwern (a remnant), East Moors, on the eastern fringe of Cardiff (gone), etc. Post BREXIT it appears that things are only going to get worse as Whitehall ‘Britocrats’ scramble to protect the City of London at all costs, while our manufacturers and exporters are left to sink, swim or go under.

The post BREXIT domestic settlement offers from the Brit Nat perspective of Westminster a real opportunity to actively work to roll back, weaken or undermine the devolutionary settlements within the UK. Certainly relatively recent developments in relation to repatriated 'powers' being returned from Brussels to Westminster have shown how important it is that we actively resist Westminster’s attempts to roll back devolution through the Withdrawal Bill. Plaid's attempts lead by Steffan Lewis in relation to the Continuity Bill were a vital step to ensure Westminster does not ride rough shod over our hard-won right to run our own affairs.

Now it's not just a case of moaning about the incompetence and injustice of what's gone on in previous years, under previous governments (whether Labour (New, Old or revamped), Conservative or Conservative - Liberal Democrat - that's just what has gone before - that's just history. The days of simply rattling the bars of the cage and occasionally doing well in the odd are over - it's time to change or rewrite the rules of the game. At the most basic level we need devolution to actually deliver for our nation - economically, socially and politically. 

As I have said previously the nation can no more be half devolved than a nation can be half free. We need the devolutionary full measure and the tools to do the job and to deliver economic change for our country. We desperately need to engender the politics of hope and a real belief that things can change and get better. 

The quiet Westminster dogmas of the past have failed us - they did not deliver last time and rebadged / revamped by the bearded one they are incapable of delivering in the future. We urgently need real change, it's time for a real new deal, it's time to be radical, because only radical solutions are going to deliver for our people and our nation. 

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