Friday, 2 July 2010

A “disrespect agenda”

Chad Rickard, Secretary / Ysgrifenydd, CymruX - Young Plaid Ifanc

It’s only been a few months of this coalition government and already the cracks of David and Nick’s “respect” agenda are starting to appear. First we have the announcement of fixed term, five year parliaments, that will cause, coincidentally, UK elections to clash with elections to the devolved bodies in Wales and Scotland. Now we have the ridiculous and thoughtless proposal to hold an AV referendum, on the same day as devolved Assembly and Parliament elections next May.

It is clear that the UK government and, in particular, Nick Clegg’s “department” know full well the implications for Wales and (to a lesser extent) Scotland. The debate in Wales will need to be about the things the Assembly has power over. The implications for legislation and government activity if a referendum on further powers results in a yes vote. The challenge of finding spending cuts in Wales. (Albeit, cuts that have been forced upon Wales by the UK government). Instead what we will have is a UK (invariably English) dominated debate, which will be focussed overwhelmingly around the campaign, for a yes or no vote on, what will be a totally pointless exercise in electoral reform. And to top it all off it won’t affect the devolved bodies one little bit. The only way in which this referendum will affect the devolved bodies, will be to confuse the issue and drag attention away from important matters of devolution and instead onto very minor reforms of Parliament.

The most unbelievable thing about all of this, is the complete lack of discussion, consultation, or consideration with either the Scottish Parliament or the Welsh Assembly. The leader of the Scottish Labour party, Iain Gray, had to “hear about this on the radio”. Such a lack of respect to the internal politics of Scotland and Wales is truly disgraceful and cannot continue to happen. It makes perfectly clear where the Lib Dem’s and Tories priorities now lie. Of course we in Wales and those in Scotland expect this kind of thing from the Conservatives. But weren’t the Lib Dems entry into coalition supposed to be a moderating influence? Were they not going to be the ones who forced the Conservatives into looking at the whole of the UK and not just the usual prism of the South and South East of England? It’s rather amusing that the Lib Dems are not claiming to be the “driving force” in this government as they would otherwise usually do. And why would they? All they have to show for selling their souls down the river are a few ministerial cars, special advisors and a record of abject betrayal and disrespect. This is just the latest, but it certainly won’t be the last case of the UK government not giving Wales a second thought.

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