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Betsan Powys | 12:57 UK time, Monday, 7 February 2011

WHO WILL REPLACE FIRST MINISTER MORGAN WHEN HE RESIGNS?

If you'd ever wondered whether the Americans had thought twice about Rhodri Morgan's departure as Labour leader and First Minister and then gone on to wonder what information they reported back about his likely successor, then the answer is here.

Just to beat you all to it, let's just say that their take on the state of devolution is fascinating and they've got the state of the Welsh economy bang on ... but that's about it.

UPDATE 16.20

A response from Hywel Francis:

"I do not recall such a conversation. It sounds as if the diplomat suffers from poor shorthand. I would have said all the candidates had strengths and weaknesses. It is on the record that I was an early supporter of Carwyn Jones and I believe I made the right choice.

"I would certainly not have supported such an absurd suggestion as parachuting anyone into the Assembly."

Comments

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  • 1. At 2:01pm on 07 Feb 2011, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    'Parachute' and 'Hain' - the Americans are more astute than I thought. He could have re-cycled his original parachute.

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  • 2. At 3:26pm on 07 Feb 2011, Fitzmark2 wrote:

    They certainly have got the Welsh economy bang on Betsan... and that is what the public needs to focus on when casting their votes at the referendum.

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  • 3. At 3:49pm on 07 Feb 2011, Arihfach wrote:

    Totally agree, Fitzmark.

    Centuries of direct rule from Westminster has reduced the Welsh economy to ruins - a classic case of imperialistic asset stripping. London are quite happy to take from Wales, but have never given back a fair share.

    Over a decade of weak and flawed devolution has made the situation even worse, with Wales lower than ever down their list of priorities.

    Hopefully, the people of Wales will remember this when it comes to casting their vote, and will vote accordingly to give their country more self respect which will hoprfully lead to more respect from the London government.

    It's a good sign that the document leaked was wrong, and that a "party-line" candidate wasn't parachuted in. The fact that the political parties in Wales are evolving characteristics which are distinct from their London parents is a good sign that Wales is ready to take on more responsibility for its own affairs.

    Hopefully, in a few weeks that Americans' opinion of us in Wales will be improved.

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  • 4. At 3:55pm on 07 Feb 2011, cleverelliejo wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 5. At 5:35pm on 07 Feb 2011, Nospin wrote:

    No 3 Arihfach,
    I give you the fact you are honest enough to admit a decade of devolution has not improved anything, although you seem to be saying that was because the settlement was not strong enough. If that is the case you need to be grateful it wasn't, look at the mess they have made of the 4 main areas of education, health, economy and transport and be very grateful they did not have more powers. BTW they don't need those more powers to put the wrongs right, they just need to stop robbing those key budgets to fund their pet programs.
    However you assertation that London ( the english?, or do you mean successive uk governments) have asset stripped Wales, is slightly disingenuous.
    How many years was mining industry subsidised when it's product cost more than the open market value, how much annually is paid in benefits to people in Wales. I personally don't think that over time the assest stripping values vs returns has such a big gap as you think.
    WE have had some rubbish SoS's ( from both main parties) but the odd very good ones, especially Peter Walker who did very well for investment in Wales.
    The last 10 yrs has seen nothing but public sector growth in Wales, that does nothing for welath creation, yes it's bteer than having people on the dole but with over 60% of our economy dependent on the public scetor is not viable or sustainable.



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  • 6. At 6:26pm on 07 Feb 2011, leighrichards wrote:

    so the bush regime which presided over the disastrous and illegal iraq war presumes to comment on the standard of government in wales. An administration that owed its very existence to the fact that the republican dominated supreme court stopped a recount in florida that if allowed to continue would very likely have led to al gore becoming us president. A useless US administration that presided over the business collapses that led to the biggest world recession in history. i dont think we in wales need lectures from what was widely recognised as the most inept US government in modern times.

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  • 7. At 6:39pm on 07 Feb 2011, Tony Evans wrote:

    I am not a fan of the Americans but on this issue they are spot on. There was and is not the talent in the elected Assembly Members to govern Wales well. With a cross party trawl they could (just) make a Cabinet but unfortunately for Wales we have very much a B team governing us.

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  • 8. At 7:20pm on 07 Feb 2011, leighrichards wrote:

    post 7- as opposed to that remarkable supposed 'a team' at westminster.....people like michael cove.....jeremy hunt and teresa may....dont make me laugh. the alternative of course is a return to the days of direct rule from rowan atkinson lookalikes from constituencies in places like berkshire.

    Thankfully very few people in wales want to return to those dark days as they at least now have some say in how their own country is governed...and if they dont like how the welsh government has performed they get to kick them out every four years! No one in wales was consulted when the likes of john redwood or william hague were made secretary of state for wales.

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  • 9. At 7:28pm on 07 Feb 2011, sionnyn wrote:

    I think that this story - true or not, sums up New Labour's utter contempt for us Welsh. **** the Welsh, said Tony Blair, and then set out to follow up on his promise - first by parachuting Alun Michael in as first minister, and as we now see, wanting to install Peter Hain in the same position.

    Tony - I think that there are some people in the Assembly who only got there as a reward for sterling work rendered to their party over many years, but most of those are standing down at this election. I suspect that as the Assembly gains powers, and becomes more of a Parliament, it will attract people of the highest calibre to join the best there now. I have seen nothing to suggest that the general calibre of AMs is any lower than the calibre of MPs - and certainly, on the evidence, their probity is far higher.

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  • 10. At 7:35pm on 07 Feb 2011, Indy2010 wrote:

    Betsan,
    Can you tell me if the announcement of £7 million for potholes today IWJ and Jane Hutt
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-12381298

    is the same £7 million announced by Carl Sargent in December
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-11891707

    Is this spurious double accounting again? I spoke to some LA highways officers this afternoon who are not aware of £14 million!!

    8 Leigh I think you should get out of the glasshouses you seem to be in, there was change of government in 1997 nearly 14 yrs ago. Did anybody consult on the Labour SoS?

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  • 11. At 8:11pm on 07 Feb 2011, leighrichards wrote:

    yes indy but the point im making is that many of those critical of the assembly and who wish to see a no vote are actually in favour of the welsh assemblies abolition. A cursory glance at the contributions to this blog in recent months would demonstrably prove that.

    Such people it seems would be happy with a return to the status quo that existed before the establishment of the welsh assembly ie they would be content with a secretary of state being imposed on wales who didnt even have a constituency in wales...and but for the existence of the welsh assembly we would have exactly that situation again now- ...as last time i looked amersham wasnt in wales!

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  • 12. At 8:24pm on 07 Feb 2011, Fitzmark2 wrote:

    #3 by Arihfach

    Welsh and English history are so intertwined that to talk of one or the other exclusively is to not understand the historical process.

    It's the real world that most people exit in, not the fantasy world that nationalists live in, that people should think about, and that's the economy as we know it to be not the fanciful world that you live in.

    Every social policy research organisation has shown the Welsh economy in the last thirteen years to be the least healthy, the least competitive of all the regions of Britain. And that fall from a very healthy mid league position on the economic table, pre devolution, to a shaming bottom position in relation to the other regions of Britain has been caused by that self serving Assembly and its policies.

    And it's typical of nationalists to create a smoke screen to hide the appalling state of the Welsh economy by whinging about a golden age in Welsh culture that has never existed.

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  • 13. At 8:28pm on 07 Feb 2011, Indy2010 wrote:

    10 leigh

    Regardless of both of our views which are similar in getting the legal system streamlined for the Assembly, sadly the apathy shown for this referendum is being steered to a Vote of confidence on the Assembly, an example being the pen potraits of some of the BBC panel, who quite clearly are unaware of what powers the Assembly has and can have, shows how far this debate has not penetrated the general public in Wales.

    Which is compouded by some less than professional performances by AM's of all parties. I have on a number of occasions given evidence to various Assembly Committees as an expert and as a representative of some bodies.

    I was not suprised at the lack of knowledge of the subjects by some members of the committees.

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  • 14. At 9:47pm on 07 Feb 2011, FoDafydd wrote:

    Re 13

    Indy,

    And I am often appalled by the banality of questions and responses by MPs on various Westminster committees. So I'm not sure what argument you're making - abolish Westmintser?

    And I see that Fitz in 12 is still in denial as to the fact of the nationhood of the Welsh, and, likewise, the English.

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  • 15. At 10:20pm on 07 Feb 2011, Nospin wrote:

    N014 FoDafydd

    It is not just our AM.s lacking in the knowledge and ability even more worrying it is our senior civil servants who advise the.

    Think it was a speech by Prof B Morgan last year when he mentioned the problems of getting WAG senior civil servants to go on training courses to Whitehall, it was the same speech that he mentioned the fact there were more deputy directors per dept in WAG than Whitehall!

    RE culture, schmulture, it is irrelevant it won't put shoes on feet or meals in bellies, rememeber Bill C, "it's the economy stupid", no economy education, health, transport, infrastructure and culture all pointless.
    WAG desperately needs to re prioritise and forget all the pet schemes, concentrate on the big four
    Economy
    Economy
    Economy
    Economy.

    then education health and transport/infrastructure, when they are all working then the minor bits can be played with.

    It would appear the american ambassador understood this very well, even though he was bush's man.

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  • 16. At 10:30pm on 07 Feb 2011, Fitzmark2 wrote:

    RE #14
    I live in denial of so many things, FoDafydd. For example I'm in denial that there is an omnipotent, omniscient god: and I'm in denial that there exists a tooth fairy or a Santa Claus; and most of all, I'm in denial that Wales is or has ever been a country.

    And in your last post to me about the Queen which I read but couldn't reply to you because it was shut down, you said:

    "And Fitz, living in denial as you do will not change the basic, undeniable fact that Wales is a country, and the Welsh are a nation. Even the Queen of England, of whom I am sure you are an extra-loyal subject, believes it."

    The public utterances of the Queen reflect the political opinions of the government of the day. What her private opinions on any subject are is known by only a very few people, which I, you or the majority of people are not party to.

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  • 17. At 11:00pm on 07 Feb 2011, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    And the National Assembly has little power over the economy - Welsh economic ills began long before devolution, its the neglect of Westminster that is responsible for the relative poverty of Wales. We have had over 100 years of economic decline, with the paucity of tools in the hands of the Welsh Government do we expect anything else?

    More on topic, it seems that the US government has been poorly informed about Welsh politics, perhaps its time for them to beef up their consulate here? And yes the quality of some AMs is poor, but that is also true of some in Westminster. We have some very able ministers - and we have had some less than wonderful ministers, but that is just like Westminster.

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  • 18. At 11:06pm on 07 Feb 2011, Ivenoidea wrote:

    The view that the Assembly is failing and has brought no benefits to anyone in my part of Wales is something I am normally told on doorsteps at the moment. This view seems to be common across party lines, and is usually imparted with a great deal of frustration and emotion. Many is the time over recent months that I have been asked if the Assembly could be removed completely. Not quite in line with Rhodri Morgan's view of the progress made by the Assembly in his Western Mail article some weeks ago. I wonder what planet he lives on? The Americans have got it right. And so has 'Nospin'.

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  • 19. At 11:29pm on 07 Feb 2011, Jack_Wilkinson wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 20. At 00:45am on 08 Feb 2011, Glyndo wrote:

    19. At 11:29pm on 07 Feb 2011, Jack_Wilkinson wrote:

    “Rhodri Morgan, is insisting that Llafur is the Celtic Government of a Celtic nation? Is he right?”

    I’ve read it twice, and I can’t find where he says that. He doesn’t actually mention the Labour Government, in 2003, and the only mention of “Celtic” is in the headline, not in the reported words. So, no Jack I don’t think your interpretation of his words is justified.

    However, Wales is a nation, though not a state, and “Celtic” is handy shorthand for the non Anglo-Saxon parts of these islands. Reporters do love “shorthand” it saves words and thought. Sometimes a problem arises when their readers grasp onto the shorthand and try to read more into it than is actually there.

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  • 21. At 00:50am on 08 Feb 2011, leighrichards wrote:

    indy -i obviously cannot comment on your personal experiences of dealing with assembly members....but i am obviously sorry to hear that your encounters with AMs have not been as productive as you would have liked. Further as you do seem to be a person of talent why not stand for election to the assembly yourself? As we need as many people with experience, skills and talent in our democratic institutions in wales as possible - particularly now that the british govt is set cut the number of welsh mps by a quarter!

    Ivenoidea - following the disastrous and illegal iraq war and the continual and needless loss of welsh soldiers lives in afghanistan and the disastrous handling of the economy in recent years i often get asked if the hopeless westminster parliament with its expenses gravy train could be removed completely!

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  • 22. At 01:15am on 08 Feb 2011, Jack_Wilkinson wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 23. At 08:38am on 08 Feb 2011, TellingmewhatIknowalready wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 24. At 08:53am on 08 Feb 2011, Llyn wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 25. At 09:45am on 08 Feb 2011, John Henry wrote:


    24, to label a person as an extremist, then to promote the person to membership of True Wales is both an abuse of the person and a slur upon a group of people whose only crime is to oppose your own views. To further associate this person with the more extreme dictators or those that aspire to less than civilised behaviour is neither required nor needed, and finally to imply a session with a psychiatrist would help the person in question is just abuse; I would think that attacking the person as you have done is not in the spirit of the rules and you should apologise.

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  • 26. At 11:03am on 08 Feb 2011, Glyndo wrote:

    22. At 01:15am on 08 Feb 2011, Jack_Wilkinson wrote:

    “Re 20.
    Thank you.
    Glyndo, your vigorous defence of 'Plaid Llafur Cymru' is admirable, I'm sure that Rhodri Morgan, is chuffed to bits? Isn't it?”

    A little bit patronising Jack and I am sure Rhodri couldn’t care less. Perhaps if you posted a little less rubbish you wouldn’t give people so many opportunities to show you that you’re wrong.

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  • 27. At 11:15am on 08 Feb 2011, cleverelliejo wrote:

    AH! to see ourselves as others see us, if only!
    9. sionnyn. You say people are in the Assembly for services to their party over the years. They should be there for their Ability, not as a reward for services rendered.
    This smacks of favouritism, Far too much of that goes on in politics today.
    But to be fair, it goes on in Westminster too, but it doesn't make it acceptable.

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  • 28. At 11:48am on 08 Feb 2011, Benedek wrote:

    You really have to laugh at some of the comments. The Wikileak doesn't set out the US view of potential First Ministers. It sets out what the diplomats concerned were told by MPs and others from Wales about Welsh politics. That's part of their job. When diplomats attend social events they are working,listening to the gossip and then reporting back to their Foreign Ministry. There is nothing new in the wikileak . Anyone who knows anything about Welsh politics would know that the comments reflect what everyone was thinking privately and in many cases still do about the potential successor to Rhodri Morgan. The assessment of the Welsh economy since devolution would also not surprise anyone given the stats. In 1989 the Welsh variation from the average GVA per head in the UK was - 17.2% by 2008 it was -27.9%. All Mr Francis has done is to dig himself into a bigger hole by denying that the conversation took place. As a historian, he obviously understands that a good diplomat's assessment of the country they are accredited to has to be factual in order for their government to advise citizens about possible overseas investment. The real issue is would American State Department officials advise Americans to invest in Wales after reading this assessment of the calibre of potential First Ministers and the economic potential of the region?

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  • 29. At 1:02pm on 08 Feb 2011, Nospin wrote:

    No21 Leighrichards.

    may I remind you there are soldiers from all parts of the UK being killed not just Welsh soldiers, and what is more evryomne of those soldiers has volunteered to serve in the British Army knowing full well the possible consequences. You may question the right of the afghan war but unlike Iraq it is clearly supported by the UN. It is not an issue for WElsh politics, and TBH with you I can't imagine many voters you speak to complaining of just Welsh soldiers dying out there,unless of course they are devoted nationalists.

    NO 28 Benedict. a very good post and nail on the head re investing here, a fall of 5% against a plannned 10year rise of 5% does not exactly paint the picture of a vibrant well run economy.

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  • 30. At 1:04pm on 08 Feb 2011, leighrichards wrote:

    how encouraging it is to see welsh labour mp paul murphy...a senior figure in the 79 no campaign and someone hitherto considered to be lukewarm about devolution for wales today declaring himself in favour of lawmaking powers for the welsh assembly!

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  • 31. At 1:43pm on 08 Feb 2011, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    #30

    I too welcome Paul Murphy's support for a Yes vote on March 3.

    His remarks can be read here:

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/02/08/yes-to-union-and-yes-to-a-welsh-assembly-with-full-power-to-make-laws-91466-28129743/

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  • 32. At 1:53pm on 08 Feb 2011, Llyn wrote:

    Nospin - you say that the Iraq war was illegal. That's strange and ever so hypocrital as it was not illegal according to the same government and state whose leaks you say are so correct when it comes to their thoughts on the Welsh Assembly and Welsh devolution.

    As you and all the other True Wales, UKIP, Christain Doctrine (have a look at their website if you want to see some really nasty and bigoted views from No supporters) seem to have so much regard for what the US thinks of the British I suppose you entirley agree with the Americans that the British forces 'made a mess of things' in Helmand?

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  • 33. At 1:54pm on 08 Feb 2011, Nospin wrote:

    No30, leighrichards, his reason are not exactly those of the yes campaign are they.
    All about protecting us from those nasty tories, just how a yes vote will increase our economy, education, health performances etc he has yet to explain.
    It almost admits if labour had won the GE he would be supporting a no campaign.
    Not a convert by any means, more an opportunist.

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  • 34. At 2:10pm on 08 Feb 2011, geoff drake wrote:

    The repeated inacurate comments in this topic provoke me to comment that if the pro Yes supporters were to stop accusing the No supporters of all wanting to scrap the entire Devolution process and if the No supporters were to stop accusing the Yes camp of wanting immediate full independance then perhaps we could focus on the real issues.
    Prior to devolution it has been correctly pointed out that Wales was a region of declining performance. From Westminster Wales public administration was regarded as a joke,a civil service posting to wales was the equivalent to being sent to Outer Siberia. The control of labour dominated councils by old men in smoke filled rooms was worthy of the Politburo. Perfomance of the NHS lagged behind England as did education a fact regualy diguised by using different data and timings to make like for like comparisson imposible.And then of course there was the Welsh Ambulance Service!!!. Incidentaly in my oppinion one of the few people to acknowlege this state of afairs and try and shake things up was John Redwood for which act he is still vilified by the vested interests.
    My criticism of the Assembly is that depite the documented historical failings they have failed to get to grips with the powers they have and show any sign of reversing or improving the situation and this can not be blamed on England or lack of powers. It was the Assembly that scrapped the WDA and the WTB. Economic development has declined compared to England hardly an endorsement of the new methods.
    The Assembly has changed the oranisation of the Health service twice and our performance has declined compared to England hardly an endorsement of the new methods.Education has declined compared to England and the money per pupil has declined compared to England hardly an endorsement of the Assemblies polices or financial management.And then of course there is the Welsh Ambulance Service!!!
    These are examples of why i will vote No. Not to scrap the Assmbly but to challenge the members to deliver on the challenges they were set up for.
    Seems to me the American Ambassador was more prescient than he is being given credit for

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  • 35. At 4:08pm on 08 Feb 2011, Nospin wrote:

    No34 GeoffDrake.
    Well said.
    Problem is the yes side and politicans keep saying this is just a technical issue, the time to register protest is in May.
    That is rubbish the election is about who runs the assembly. Many voters may feel that by abstaining or voting for a different party they are being disloyal to their chosen party, and anyway unless it occurred on a very large scale it would probably make no difference.
    However the referendum IS about the whole institution, so that IS the best time to register displeasure with it's performance since 1997.
    If people do vote with that as their motivation it is perfectly valid, and they can do so without feeling disloyal to their prefered political party, they like everyone else are casting a vote on the whole sheebang and it's utterly dismal performance.

    To the yes voters I simply ask you how did they get us in the mess without these extra powers, so how will these powers help them get us out of the mess - they won't, we know it and so do you (if you were honest with yourselves).
    Deliberate budgetary decisions were taken to rob funds from the four key areas of economy, health education and transport / infrastructure, the robbed funds were used to fund social engineering, "nation building" office building here and around the world(IBW), and employing 3 times more civil servants than existed under the old Welsh office. Reverse those decisions and spend the money on key services and improvements will flow (providing they have sensible plans and monitor progress of them).
    Quite simply right from 1997 they got the priorities wrong and put all these "nationalistic" ( note not nationalist - no knock at anyone) ad hoc schemes 1st. I suspect that was in order to make themselves look relevant, important and like a real national government not an assembly, THEY TRIED TO RUN BEFORE THEY COULD EVEN AFFORD TO WALK, and we are paying the price.

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  • 36. At 4:50pm on 08 Feb 2011, Arihfach wrote:

    I am really quite amazed that some people here think that the Welsh Assembly shouldn't spend anything on culture or infastructure!

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  • 37. At 5:04pm on 08 Feb 2011, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    #28

    Your comments are unbalanced. You repeatedly condemn the Assembly/Government for failing to address Wales’ severe economic problems, when much of the failure lies at Westminster.

    From a low base in 1989 Wales’ GVA has been falling steadily during the past twenty years:

    Year Index of £ per head (UK=100)
    1989 85
    1990 84
    1991 83
    1992 83
    1993 83
    1994 83
    1995 84
    1996 82
    1997 80
    1998 79
    1999 77
    2000 77
    2001 77
    2002 77
    2003 76
    2004 76
    2005 76
    2006 75
    2007 74
    2008 74

    http://www.statswales.wales.gov.uk (Regional Gross Value Added (GVA) by UK country)

    The advent of the Assembly involved little more than the transfer of the powers of the Secretary of State for Wales (SoSW) to an elected body. The Assembly got no significantly greater powers.

    Successive SoSWs prior to 1998 appear to have been powerless to arrest the decline in the Welsh economy as the figures illustrate. The decline in the 1990s was faster than in the decade which followed. How then can the Assembly, and since 2006, its Government be blamed for failing to address the issue?

    It can be argued, and has been by Phil Cooke of Cardiff University and others, that the relatively weak devolution settlement has prevented the Assembly from developing innovative economic policies, especially when compared with Scotland.

    Whether this is true or not is another matter. I for one do not believe that the legislative powers ‘on offer’ in GoWA (Parts 3 and 4) will be sufficient to allow the Government of Wales to stimulate the economy to such an extent as will radically reverse the decline and make Wales a prosperous country. Much more will be required to undo the structural damage of decades, but it is a step in the right direction.

    The Assembly, its Government - Wales and its people - will undoubtedly have an enhanced status if there is a Yes vote on March 3. Cardiff will have more bargaining power vis-a-vis Westminster, and even in Brussels. That will be a positive development.

    Your view of the centrality of ‘the economy’ is simplistic, to say the least. When one analyses the various factors which underlie or underpin successful economies, the self-belief or self-confidence of the people – who are the ones who generate wealth – is probably the most fundamental. Without that no economy can succeed.

    Sadly, the people of Wales have generally lacked confidence, which is largely the result of Wales’ long history in the shadow of its more powerful and dominant neighbour which has controlled its economy for centuries.

    Even in my lifetime, it was a commonly held view that to get on, one had to get an education and get out. That has had severe consequences for Wales down the generations. It has been drained of many of the brightest and best of its people.

    Consequently, we have a disproportionate number of aged, chronically sick, poorly educated and unemployed in the population. A society increasingly dependent on public sector employment (35% in Swansea for instance) and on state pensions and benefits. It’s why most of the country was twice designated for EU Objective One funding as one of the poorest parts of the EU.

    We have a choice, to vote No, as you intend, which will do absolutely nothing to address Wales’ urgent problems. Indeed, it could well exacerbate them, as it would be a signal of despair, and a sign that we don’t want to even begin to set about making our country a better place in which to live.

    It will confirm the belief in others outside of Wales, that even we believe that we are losers. It will weaken the Assembly and Government, both in and out of Wales.

    I believe that some of the contributors to this blog would (secretly, if not openly) delight or revel in such an outcome. For some reason beyond my understanding they appear to want Wales and its people to hand in the towel – give in to the idea that we are not a people, lie down and take it. It's an attitude not only reprehensible but grounded in negativity.

    However, I trust that we will grasp the opportunity to take more responsibility for our own affairs, as the Scots and those in Northern Ireland have done and are doing. Otherwise Wales' future is even bleaker.

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  • 38. At 5:49pm on 08 Feb 2011, West-Wales wrote:

    The question is surely;

    If as reported in 2008 devolution in Wales was "weak and troubled" what has changed to make a yes vote not just achievable but desirable.

    The systemic problems of the current Devolution arrangement are becoming more obvious, hardly a day goes by without some new report defining serious failure of a devolved services.
    Hardly a day goes by without some Assembly minister standing up accepting things are bad but has a "cunning plan" to put things right.

    There is also a failure of the media, a democratic deficit, The BBC with its Peoples Panel is trying to get some balance, but in general the message going out across the board is one sided, - and as Alan Trench points out in his blog Devolution matters, the reporting is not all necessarily accurate.

    I note posts are again being referred to the moderators.
    Few are actually moderated. I have posts back to November and before still waiting.
    The problem is of course until the post is moderated you cannot appeal, so the post is effectively censored.
    Now who is behind this - the BBC - or someone else who objects.

    It would be nice to know Betsan.


    I suppose that comment condemns this post to limbo, so I'll save it!

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  • 39. At 6:13pm on 08 Feb 2011, Nospin wrote:

    No36 Arihfach
    read all of my posts ( especially No14) , i have said they need to concentrate on the economy above all else then, education heath and transport/infrastructure, until those are good, stop spending on schemes/projects and yes that includes culture, however once the prime 4 are in order then the spending can resume, it's called understanding and prioritising the essentials.

    the US amabssador obviously understood that others don't seem to.
    If you had a small cabin cruiser and the cabin needed a refurb, but the hull has a leak, which you going to fix 1st?

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  • 40. At 6:30pm on 08 Feb 2011, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    My #37 was in response to geoff drake's #34 (not #28)

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  • 41. At 6:39pm on 08 Feb 2011, Arihfach wrote:

    #39, Nospin. What a fantastically absurd idea! There are many many countries in the world worse off than Wales, and none of them have stopped spending on culture, infastructure (it includes offices, by the way), health or education until the economy is deemed to be fine by some random commentator. You really shouldn't use this referendum to launch a policy incentive which would only be welcomed by the wackiest of Ayn Rand's followers.

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  • 42. At 6:44pm on 08 Feb 2011, Nospin wrote:

    No37 Bryn.
    Nice long line of numbers but you seem to ignore 2 key things.

    the ist assembly had a 10 yr plan and allocated a budget of £15b to improve it back to 85%, what happened, diud they spend the £15b if so how, or did they quietly shelve it ( they stopped reporting it after about 4 years), if this is the case why weren't we told.

    AlsoasI have already pointed out the grant more than doubled 1997to 2009 in REAL TERMS ( ie transfers and one offs removed to get like for like), infaltion according to the BoE website was approx 35% for the same period, yet WAG continued to fail in all four main areas, Economy,education, health and transport/infrastructure. So it wasn't lack of funding, they had the powers they needed yet they failed.

    All I see on here is weak and pathetic diversionary excuses, until they and you can accept that failure there is no hope going forward,a NO vote will put a big boot up the combined backsides and hopefully get themto review their whole strtagies/policies and performance, when they have fixed the problems they created then come and ask for more powers not before.

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  • 43. At 7:45pm on 08 Feb 2011, Nospin wrote:

    No41, ok you settle for glug glug glug.

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  • 44. At 7:49pm on 08 Feb 2011, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    #42

    And as has been pointed out to you, Barnett funding to all the devolved administrations is directly linked by a simple mathematical formula based on relative population size. If the funding for one doubles so do the others, in real terms, or whatever.

    Be sure that you don't misuse the BoE's inflation figures for you own purposes. Government administration costs, salaries etc, and capital projects especially, often far outstrip the bare inflation figures.

    Wales' block grant is shrinking or being 'squeezed' steadily, year on year, and has been for over twenty years - that is built in to Barnett.
    The initial differential put into the formula for Wales and Scotland was to allow for the additional problems which faced Wales.

    It did not address the underlying structural inequalities, it only provided extra funds to meet the additional day-to-day needs of government. In relative terms therefore Wales is getting less money, but the problems, the needs, are increasing. It will get worse, unless funding is addressed at UK level. The ConDem administration is refusing to look at it.

    Wales' performance in say, education or health, is compared RELATIVELY, with the other nations, not in ABSOLUTE terms. Wales' income is declining RELATIVELY too, whilst the same is not the case for England.

    Someone quoted from a Rowntree research source recently. It's conclusions were that differences in performance were more down to the powers reserved to Westminster.

    I don't expect to persuade you to change your mind, as the sum total of your posts to this blog indicate your opposition to devolution per se. Nevertheless, many others visit here, and your assertions need to be countered.

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  • 45. At 8:22pm on 08 Feb 2011, Nospin wrote:

    If my assertations ?, not so my friend they are facts , the figures are public knowledge.
    If my facts need countering best you keep trying because so far all we have had from you and the rest of the yes supporters is excuses, that it is everyone else's fault and we need more money.
    I accept that the behind the scenes inflation rate may be different but not that different so that it negates a more than doubling of the grant (in real terms) in 10 years, and nothing to show for it in regard to the four mani areas of importance, economy, health, education and transport/infrastructure.
    I accept there is a squeeze factor but again compared to the increases in the grant it is negligible.
    I also accept your "relative" point but that is the point, relative to the rest of the UK we are going down by every measure you care to use, or is the next excuse going to be we are improving, but it is their fault for improving even more making us look bad - sorry it don't wash.

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  • 46. At 00:36am on 09 Feb 2011, tredwyn wrote:

    #42 Nospin has made a logical error. He points to RELATIVE decline in Welsh GVA and the standard of services, which are facts.. He points to an absolute increase in the Welsh budget, also a fact. And he doesn't notice that he is not comparing like with like. If the WAGs budget had gone up RELATIVE to English expenditure on devolved services he would have a point. But it hasn't. Public expenditute by WAG has gone up 28 per cent in real terms this century. English expenditure on the devolved services has gone up 35 percent. That is the Barnett squeeze in action. You can't point to absolute growth to condemn a relative decline. Category error. Think again.

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  • 47. At 00:43am on 09 Feb 2011, tredwyn wrote:

    #35 Why punish Tory AMs for real or perceived failings of the WAG? They have never been in government. Your criticisms are of the Welsh government - so vote it out in May. None of this provides any reason to vote 'no' in March. It is one thing to claim the WAG has failed. It is quite another to claim it must always, inevitably fail so the whole Assembly should be crippled or abolished.

    What are the grounds for such pessimism? I agree with #37 - if we don't take ourselves and our politicians seriously (and hold them to account), why should anyone else?

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  • 48. At 12:11pm on 09 Feb 2011, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    Arn't you all missing the most important part of Betsans comment.

    A response from Hywel Francis:

    "I do not recall such a conversation. It sounds as if the diplomat suffers from poor shorthand. I would have said all the candidates had strengths and weaknesses. It is on the record that I was an early supporter of Carwyn Jones and I believe I made the right choice.

    "I would certainly not have supported such an absurd suggestion as parachuting anyone into the Assembly."

    Hywell Francis I know is a man of great integrity.

    Shouldn't we all be asking why the Diplomat sought to convey the message he did, if it is untrue.

    What is realy happening here.

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  • 49. At 12:25pm on 09 Feb 2011, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    #46

    Thanks for explaining so succinctly the fundamental flaw in his reasoning. I was trying to make the same point, but your comment hits the nail on the head.

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  • 50. At 12:51pm on 09 Feb 2011, Nospin wrote:

    N0 46 Tredwyn

    Just what are you classing as public expenditure?

    WAG hand the funding to more than match that expenditure Barnet squeeze has no where near that effect.

    WAG chose by way of deliberate budgetary decisions to burgle the funding for those devolved services and spend it on other ideas, not a funding or Westminster problem a WAG decision problem.

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  • 51. At 1:52pm on 09 Feb 2011, FoDafydd wrote:

    Somebody was kind enough to refer us to Paul Murphy MP's statement earlier in this debate. I was glad to read there - though rather surprised, not because it isn't the case, but because Mr Murphy despite his Celtic name (Jac!) is an arch-unionist - fully accepts that Wales could very easily go her own way and make fine go of it.

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  • 52. At 5:17pm on 09 Feb 2011, Fitzmark2 wrote:

    #46 by Tredwyn

    "If the WAGs budget had gone up RELATIVE to English expenditure on devolved services he would have a point."

    If anyone is being illogical it's you Tredwyn. The population of England is around 49 million and the population of Wales is around 3million. If the Assembly's spending had gone up in relation to the spending in England the shysters in Cardiff Bay would have been able to gold plate their gravy train.

    The Barnett Formula for all its faults when it was set up apportioned the national wealth according to population and Wales proportionately has done very well from the formula. The figures are per person:
    Wales: £8,139; England £7121.

    And it has been pointed out that the block grant to the Assembly has more than doubled in the past ten years. So where has the money gone? Well it's plain for all to see, that the money has been spent on empire building and social engineering,at the expense of the decline of the Welsh economy and social services.

    And please don't come back with the usual compliant that it's all the fault of Westminster. All the evidence is stacked up against the unnecessary extra and wasteful tier of government in Cardiff Bay.

    The only rational way to knock a wheel off the gravy train on the 3rd of March is to tick the box marked NO.

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  • 53. At 6:47pm on 09 Feb 2011, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    #52

    What tredwyn pointed out to you is that because of the Barnett 'squeeze' Wales' block grant has fallen, is falling, and will continue to fall RELATIVE to England's block grant.

    Barnett is based on RELATIVE population sizes... that's why its called a FORMULA.

    If for example the total available funding is £1 per million people (a simple figure so that those numerically illiterate can follow it, then Barnett would result as follows:


    England - £49
    Scotland - £5
    Wales £3
    NI £1.50

    However as explained previously in 1978 Wales and Scotland were allocated a greater share to allow for lower average incomes, lower population density and particularly acute needs in health and housing. This extra funding was not designed to address the root causes of those issues, but so that the administration of basic services in Scotland and Wales would not collapse. It was not an act of generosity, but of necessity.

    If the differential had not been allocated, the effect on services in Scotland and Wales would have been immediate and catastrophic. The then Labour government of James Callaghan would have been in serious trouble in the party's heartlands. The SNP and Plaid would have had a field day.

    As Holtham has pointed in his Commission's reports, a particular feature of the Barnett Formula (dating back to 1978 - it was only supposed to be a temporary measure) was that if the formula was retained Wales' differential would decline steadily but inexorably vis-a-vis England.

    It has done, and the effects are plain to see. Rowntree's research said that Westminster's reserved powers (over funding) were to a large extent responsible for successes and failures in the devolved nations.

    The consequences are obvious for all to see. Wales is getting RELATIVELY poorer. Services here are being squeezed financially more than they are across the border. Its destined to continue. A vicious circle imposed by Westminster governments which have failed to address it for thirty years.

    The Barnett 'squeeze' is over and above the massive cuts that the Treasury is currently in the process of putting into effect over the course of the next five years. Thus Wales is being hit twice. The Assembly Government in Cardiff is between a rock and a hard place in that respect. It really does need more clout, and a Yes vote will help in that respect.

    To call Wales' funding a 'gravy train' is laughable. There has been an inexorable decline in relative terms for thirty years. How can we expect services here to improve as compared to England when the pot of money we get is getting smaller relative to theirs?

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  • 54. At 8:02pm on 09 Feb 2011, Fitzmark2 wrote:

    For goodness sake Bryn why don’t you deal with the reality of the present position of the Welsh economy (bottom of the twelve regions of Britain) and the underfunding of the social services that has that has gone since the undemocratic inception of the Assembly? But no you bring in arguments that are not relevant to the man and woman in the street.

    There are, as I'm sure you know, "lies, damned lies and statistics". The reality for most people is the dire straits that the Welsh economy and the social services are in. And I hope that people are aware where the money from the block grant has gone. Well I know where it has gone and that has been into policies closer to nationalist's aspirations.

    Ron Davis assured everybody in 1997 that the cost of the Assembly was not going to cost no more than £17 million a year. But as the Yes vote was pushed through and the shysters got their deceiving hands on the reins of power they spent our taxes on Assembly buildings in Cardiff and other locations which cost over a £100 million, at the expense of the Welsh economy and the social services. And why don’t you comment on the fact that the AMs in 2006 received a backdated pay rise of over 8% for their new responsibilities.

    And I'll lay you a pound to a penny that if the Yes campaign wins the referendum the first thing they will do is award themselves another pay rise for their new responsibilities. It has been a gravy train for the last thirteen years and the referendum is an opportunity to knock one wheel off the train.

    Personally I'd like to see the whole shebang to come crashing down around their ears but I'm a realist and know that it is as big a pipe dream as nationalists have of breaking the sustaining link with England.

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  • 55. At 9:27pm on 09 Feb 2011, FoDafydd wrote:

    Re 54

    Why bother with facts, eh Fitz?! Especially when everyone who dares disagree with you, apparently, is a shyster.

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  • 56. At 9:43pm on 09 Feb 2011, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    #54

    Try as you might, you can't escape the relative decline in Wales' funding - the evidence is undeniable.

    Glad you're accepting the reality that devolution is here to stay... as are all the political parties in Wales. There is agreement among them that a Yes vote is the right step to take. Even former devolution-sceptics like Paul Murphy believe its time to move on. We need a stronger Assembly, especially in these difficult times.

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  • 57. At 10:28pm on 09 Feb 2011, Nospin wrote:

    Bryn I am neither numerically illiterate or unaware of the working of the Barnett formula (although clearly WAG is, it took Danny Alexander to explain the effect of NDR to them even thougfh it is covered in the Holtham report).
    Despite the effect of the squeeze, the more than doubling of the grant in real terms between 1997 and 2009, easily counteracts that effect.
    WHERE? did all this money go, why did our prime services (health and education) fall so badly and our economy.
    They had the money and power but not the nouse - NO EXCUSES PLEASE.

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  • 58. At 10:54pm on 09 Feb 2011, tredwyn wrote:

    People are still confusing absolute with relative and levels with growth rates so let me try again. Wales has a higher level of public spending per head than England does on those public services that are devolved. Level higher. But that spending has been growing more slowly than the equivalent spending in England since 1999. Growth slower. Therefore the level, while higher than in England is falling RELATIVELY and converging on the English level. Everybody's spending has gone up in absolute terms; Wales public spending has risen absolutely but it has fallen relative to England though it remains higher. Now those are all facts. Check them all as thoroughly as you like. They are in published statistics and in the Holtham report. So if Welsh services have improved in absolute terms but declined relative to those in England, that is exactly what you would expect from the expenditure patterns. I am not defending all the choices of the WAG. I disagree with a number of them but people are misunderstanding or misusing figures to make their arguments. I repeat you can't use an absolute rise in spending to decry a relative decline in services - not when the relative spending has declined. Logic!!!!!

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  • 59. At 09:52am on 10 Feb 2011, Arihfach wrote:

    Tredwyn, I suspect everyone has got your reasoning, some just don't want to admit it, becasue it would put a massive hole in their anti-assembly argument.

    Just in case, a hypothetical scenario to illustrate...

    In Wales, the budget for the health service increased by 100%, and the quality of the service improved 25%.

    In England, the budget for the health service increased by 120%, and the quality of the service improved 27%.

    As expected, a smaller percentage increase in spending leads to a smaller improvement in the quality of service being delivered, which leads to doom-and-gloom style proclamations that the health service in Wales is getting worse compared to England despite an increasing budget.

    It's nonsens, and the people making these doom-and-gloom proclemations know it's nonsens.

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  • 60. At 12:05pm on 10 Feb 2011, Fitzmark2 wrote:

    In absolute terms if you are going to be ill it is best not to be ill in Wales.
    In Wales, one in five inpatients or day-case patients had to wait fourteen weeks or longer for an appointment, compared to just one in ten in England. Nothing to be proud of there, I think.

    Then again less than 0.01% of inpatients waited longer than 26 weeks in England. In Wales the statistics stop counting at 22 weeks. However 6% of Welsh patients had to wait this length of time or longer.
    Can't see anything to shout about there either. But there again I live in the real world and not in the fanciful, deceitful world of the Yes campaign, so it's understandable.

    In England, only 143 patients had to wait 13 weeks or more for an outpatient appointment. In Wales, 3,247 patients waited 22 weeks.

    And the Assembly AMs (being very polite here) have the brass cheek to ask more powers? You just couldn’t make them up.

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/health-news/2010/04/12/treatment-must-be-driven-by-needs-of-patients-not-by-end-of-year-targets-91466-26221130/

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  • 61. At 12:11pm on 10 Feb 2011, Fitzmark2 wrote:

    #56
    Bryn, I'm not at all surprised that devolution in Wales "is here to stay." Since 1997 the principle of the undemocratic has been strictly followed: Grab it, steal it and then hang onto it for a generation and it becomes ours. All hail the shysters!

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  • 62. At 1:04pm on 10 Feb 2011, Cythraul wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 63. At 1:05pm on 10 Feb 2011, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    #60

    How many times does it need explaining to you?

    Wales' funding is being squeezed compared to England by the Barnett Formula. The Assembly (WAG) is getting relatively less money as each year passes.

    On top of that Wales' additional problems aren't being met by the required funding. The gap is getting wider. Holtham spelled it out in his Reports.

    Wales has more older, poorer, sicker people per head of the population than does England. Much more money is required to provide services for them than in England. Hence waiting lists are longer etc.

    That is the result of generations of London-based government which has sucked the lifeblood out of Wales, and other parts of the UK, so that wealth is concentrated in the prosperous parts, mainly London and the south east of England. Young healthy people have been driven to leave Wales to get employment.

    What do you expect from a Parliament in which Wales has only six percent representation? Our problems don't matter to them - that is understandable - its politics. Many Whitehall departments haven't got a clue how to handle devolution to Wales - we've been told that by MPs.

    The answer is simple, if others haven't, can't or won't address our problems and needs, we have to do it ourselves. Devolution is one approach to the problems of Wales. It means devolving POWER from one institution to another to meet particular needs.

    If we don't take this opportunity, things will get worse. Wales faces a double cut in funding. It's Barnett share is decreasing (but not in England) and massive cuts are going to be imposed on the WAG's budget over the next five years.

    Now is the time for the Assembly's legislative powers to be put on a firmer and clearer footing. It will make for better government and will give Wales greater leverage with the Westminster Government and Whitehall.

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  • 64. At 1:29pm on 10 Feb 2011, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    #61 wrote:

    '.. Grab it, steal it and then hang onto it for a generation and it becomes ours...'

    Oh so true!!!

    That was in Edward I's mind in 1277, no doubt, when he set out on his conquest of Wales.

    Strange, isn't it, that it hasn't quite worked out that way?

    We are, for some of the contributors to this blog, inconveniently, irritatingly, and against all the odds, still here.

    Most of the inhabitants of Wales are proud to be Welsh and proud of their country.

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  • 65. At 2:18pm on 10 Feb 2011, Arihfach wrote:

    @ 60. Fitzmark2 wrote:
    "In absolute terms if you are going to be ill it is best not to be ill in Wales."

    And it always has been, thanks to the London government. And you want to hand power over health back to them? Why?

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  • 66. At 2:23pm on 10 Feb 2011, Cythraul wrote:

    Re.61

    Fitz,

    In the final analysis, devolution in 1999, 2006 and, hopefully, 2010 is only correcting the undemocratic acts perpetuated by earlier shysters in 1282, 1535, 1542 and 1746, who undoubtedly were very sure their rotten scheme of things would last until the end of eternity.

    I wonder what in-depth statistical analysis you can bring to bear on that?

    I suggest you start with the number of countries that rid themselves of Westminster's overbearing, absolute rule since the days of Empire. Should keep you busy.





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  • 67. At 3:12pm on 10 Feb 2011, Fitzmark2 wrote:

    Re #63

    Bryn - England is split up into nine regions, only one of them, London is devolved. And of course you can't compare London with any other region because it is the richest area of Britain, one of the world's great fiscal centres.

    But you can compare Wales to any of the other regions which have had similar economic problems following de-industrialiation and Wales does not come up smelling of roses in comparison to any of them, as nationalists and the Yes campaign would have people believe.

    Take for example the north east of England (similar population, very similar economic and social problems following de-industrialisation and the region gets approxiamate the same share of the national wealth as Wales), but the improvements in the Arts, the economy, essential social services has been profound.

    And that was achieved without having a nationalistic and fiscal albatross around the necks of the movers and shakers within society.


    And how many times do I have to explain to you that Wales has never been the only region of Britain that has been singled out for unfair treatment. What you are describing in much of that post could be applied to any of the past industrial areas of Britain.

    The last thirteen years of devolution and state the economy and social servies in Wales has been left in is down to the flawed institution in Cardiff Bay.

    The last thing that the tax payers and the people generally need now is for the self serving Assembly to have more powers. A strong NO vote at the referendum is required to remind the Ams where power reqally belongs. I live in hope.

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  • 68. At 3:39pm on 10 Feb 2011, Fitzmark2 wrote:

    Re 64
    You could have gone back even further Bryn than the 13th century and started with say King Canute, Harold Godwinson or William 1 and then worked your way down through the years to the 1997 referendum and the same principle stands: grab it, steal it, hang onto it for a generation then it becomes ours.

    And that laughable phrase, trotted out regularly by nationalists, “we’re still here,” is just so much tosh. It is patently obvious that all of us are still here, but not all of us make the same nonsensical claim that we've been singled out for special persesecution.

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  • 69. At 3:53pm on 10 Feb 2011, FoDafydd wrote:

    Re 67

    Again no facts. And to live in Wales (as I presume you do) and not see how vibrant, for instance, our arts scene has been for the last ten years or so is extraordinary!

    Seriously, Fitz, it can't be good for you to be so negative and so depressed by the increasing self-confidence of our nation - all the time.

    And despite what we saw in Cardiff last Friday evening, the whole nation (excluding one or two on here, no doubt) will sing our national anthem and support our national team with hope and pride on Saturday as they do sporting battle in that more northerly capital city.

    What some American diplomat thinks about our country doesn't really bother me - though it is interesting to know that they take note, and that, at least, is a sign of where we are as a nation after devolution.

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  • 70. At 3:54pm on 10 Feb 2011, Cythraul wrote:

    "And that was achieved without having a nationalistic and fiscal albatross around the necks of the movers and shakers within society."

    The North East of England is located in the North East of England, is it not?

    No age old ethnic or linguistic discrimination, no resulting psychological deficit still perpetuated on a regular basis by insensitive London media outlets, no threat of being overwhelmed by incomers from the nation that stripped you of your legal system and your languages natural place in society and still generally unwilling to change their linguistic habits to fit in, no right to control and sell what natural resources your country has been blessed with, no international profile of any significance, no royal dynasty, just a national rugby team and national football team to pin such dignity you have left as a people on...and now 10 years of strictly limited self government in a glorified bus shelter.

    No comparison between Wales and any region of England is in any way meaningful. The other factors that have and continue to affect Welsh people's sense of themselves, their inherent worth and sense of what is possible, the place of their community/nationality in these islands and the wider world are simply beyond such statistics.

    Wales is Wales, and England is England.

    Fitz - your perspective on Wales is sterile, absolutely sterile.

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  • 71. At 4:29pm on 10 Feb 2011, Cythraul wrote:

    Fitz,

    Furthemore, the resounding NO vote in the North East of England (78% of votes cast!) to regional devolution in 2004, the subsequent cancelling of further proposed referendums for fear of further No votes and the recent dismantling of the unelected "Regional Assemblies" in England in 2010 demonstrates the facile nature of any so-called comparison between Wales, a nation and a country, and any region of England.

    A very inconvenient truth for you I suspect.


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  • 72. At 4:31pm on 10 Feb 2011, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    #67

    You make a valid point about regional differences in England. If you read my comments carefully, you will see that I don't single out Wales in that respect.

    There is a north-south prosperity divide in the UK. Wales is on the wrong side of it. Westminster government has failed to address it. I think its the constitutional structure of the UK that's at fault.

    The UK is still highly centralised, second only to France among the western powers. Imo, London-centred government has not been a good thing for a large proportion of the population of these islands.

    I happen to be Welsh, and live here, so naturally I'm more concerned for my own country.

    I would like to see radical reform which would transform the UK into a truer democracy, where its peoples had a greater say in how they are governed than under the present semi-autocracy by an elite which is always in power regardless of public opinion as expressed in the ballot box.

    Parliamentary sovereignty means just that - the politicians rule and decide the rules. The UK is just about the only democracy that doesn't constitutionally vest sovereignty in its citizens, which would make politicians our servants, not our masters.

    Real reform of the electoral system can't take place. Parliament has the last word on it. We'll never have a referendum on proportional representation. The politicians won't have it - they'd lose their grip on power. A century has passed and there's still the cronyism and patronage of an unelected second chamber. Only last year Clegg was spouting about reform of the Lords, have we heard anything about it since? It amounts to a significant democratic deficit.

    In the last thirty years we've had one lot of Tories or another lot of tories in power alternately - you couldn't put a cigarette paper between them on policy. Both have ridden roughshod over public opinion. It's a kind of elective dictatorship. Nothing short of a revolution will rid the UK of it.

    The Barnett funding differential applies equally to the whole of England. That means that as the years pass the whole of England has more money to spend on services RELATIVE to Wales - regardless of differences within England itself.

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  • 73. At 4:35pm on 10 Feb 2011, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    #70

    '...a glorified bus shelter.'

    Hehe... every time I see it, that's what will come to mind!!!

    I agree with the sentiment you express.. all unfortunately true.

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  • 74. At 6:13pm on 10 Feb 2011, Nospin wrote:

    No69 FoDafydd
    10 years of vibrant arts scene!, there's nice see. How many meals does that put on working class tables.
    What about 10years of a disasterous economy - FAR MORE IMPORTANT.
    Bryn - please no more diversionary excuses, they have had the money it has more than doubled in 10 years and you whinge on about the Barnett squeeze because you want even more. Now if the Barnett grant had only ever gone up by inflation I might sympathise with you, but a more than doubling against 35% inflation over 10 YEARS, sorry mate it's a diversionary whinge.
    They have the powers (and did before Lcos) they took the decisions to rob key service budgets for their own political ends, THEY HAVE FAILED.!!!
    A NO win will be the kick up the backside they need, perhaps then they will open a public debate about what it is we want and need them to do about these failures.

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  • 75. At 7:03pm on 10 Feb 2011, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    #74

    You're misusing the figures again, deliberately, I suspect. If as you say Wales' block grant doubled in ten years, so did England's funding double over the same period.

    The relationship between Wales and England's funding is determined by the Barnett Formula. It has a 'convergence' factor in it, by which Wales' gets less and less every year, relative to England. That means Wales' block grant is falling relative to England.

    Inflation was (and is) the same in Wales as it was in England, so that's irrelevant when it comes to comparisons. In an equation terms of equal value on both sides of the equation can be ignored.

    As night follows day the quality of services in one country cannot be directly compared with those in another, when the funding in one is falling relative to the other.

    Government funding (and expenditure) has been rising year-on-year in both England and Wales in absolute terms, but less in Wales.

    Look up what ABSOLUTE and RELATIVE mean in the dictionary.

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  • 76. At 7:07pm on 10 Feb 2011, FoDafydd wrote:

    Re 74

    Nospin,

    The usual angry rant, then! And balanced of course - you attack me for talking of the arts when it was your fellow co-conspirator Fitz who brought it up!!! I won't wait for an apology.

    As for the rest, well in the almost-famous words of Col. Jones - "They don't like the facts. They don't like the facts!!"

    Even if you were right - and of course you're not! - how could you compare the perceived shortcomings of WAG and the National Assembly with the disater that Westminster has left us with? What do you want to do with those second raters by the Thames? Do you want to get rid of Westminster as well?


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  • 77. At 7:48pm on 10 Feb 2011, Cythraul wrote:

    Re 76.

    Not to mention Lance-Corporal Jones - "They don't like it up them, these Anti-Assembly types!".

    Good man that Jones. Salt of the Earth.

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  • 78. At 8:03pm on 10 Feb 2011, Nospin wrote:

    BRYn
    "You're misusing the figures again, deliberately, I suspect. If as you say Wales' block grant doubled in ten years, so did England's funding double over the same period."

    YES BUT ENGLAND IMPROVED IN ALL THOSE AREAS!!!!!!!

    Fo dafydd, nice england/ uk diversion, however it was nulab (g brown in particular) that got us in this mess, condems will hopefully get us out, no one in welsh politics seems to even realise the mess they have got us in!!!!!!!

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  • 79. At 8:19pm on 10 Feb 2011, Fitzmark2 wrote:

    #69 by Fodafydd
    "Again no facts. And to live in Wales (as I presume you do) and not see how vibrant, for instance, our arts scene has been for the last ten years or so is extraordinary!"


    What an earth are you on about? And where have I said anything about the Arts in Wales. Look at the post again I mentioned the Arts in relation to the way that the north east of England has pulled itself up after the deindustrialization that effected the whole of Britain in the eighties, without the fiscal albatross of devolution around the necks of the movers and shakers.

    And you presume correctly: I still have a home and voting rights in dear old Newport Monmouthshire England,(as was)but I'm hanging around until after March 3rd then as the song goes, "I'm going home I've done my time..." to my home in the north east.

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  • 80. At 9:13pm on 10 Feb 2011, Jack_Wilkinson wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 81. At 10:17pm on 10 Feb 2011, Arihfach wrote:

    79. Fitzmark2 wrote:
    "I'm hanging around until after March 3rd then as the song goes, "I'm going home I've done my time..." to my home in the north east."

    Wanna bet he doesn't go? :-D

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  • 82. At 10:52pm on 10 Feb 2011, FoDafydd wrote:

    Re 79

    Amazing! You praise the North East, probably rightly, for their artistic achievement among other things in an attempt to condemn what you regard as failure in Wales, and then you are upset when I correct you on how good the arts have been here in Wales; in Welsh and English. The schoolboy, sulky touchiness of the No to Wales cabal is telling.

    Re 78

    Nospin,

    Your:
    "...however it was nulab (g brown in particular) that got us in this mess, condems will hopefully get us out"

    - shows how artificial, contrived and dishonest the whole anti-WAG, anti-National Assembly No to Wales cabal actually are.

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  • 83. At 11:06pm on 10 Feb 2011, merthyrmarkf wrote:

    Re 69, Just a few observations;
    A "vibrant" art scene ? Cardiff the only city with asprirations to being a "major city" in Britain, Europe or possibly the world without a deicated modern art gallery, Hedd Wyn, well over a decade ago, with no welsh film ever likely to come close again ("a bit of tom jones", I can't see it...) The BBC "wales" productions, (Dr who etc.) majority non-welsh crew, actors etc.
    The "whole nation" nonsense over the minority sport of egg-chasing, maybe 30 years ago, but most of Wales will be watching the football, if it wasn't for the excessive drinking involved, international rugby would be as popular as bowls. (or indeed club rugby)

    And finally the Americans don't think much of Wales, the assembly or their politicians, mmm.. they have more in common with us than I thought.

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  • 84. At 11:47pm on 10 Feb 2011, FoDafydd wrote:

    Re 83

    Merthyr bach,

    I'm sorry you missed out on all the fun - you must get out more. Though I note your parochialism in immediately thinking in terms of Cardiff. That says a great deal as well.

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  • 85. At 11:52pm on 10 Feb 2011, FoDafydd wrote:

    Re 83 again

    Something else that say a lot is your:

    "And finally the Americans don't think much of Wales... mmm.. they have more in common with us than I thought."

    - of course I note that you also included: "the assembly or their politicians"


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  • 86. At 11:54pm on 10 Feb 2011, merthyrmarkf wrote:

    Reply to 84 is the assembly's attitude not; Wales=Cardiff=Wales ? Try asking them in Wrexham...

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