Wales politics

Nick Clegg tells Welsh Labour to 'stop the blame game'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has accused Welsh Labour of playing a "blame game" over the country's woes.

The Welsh government should accept more responsibility for raising the money it spends, he said during a visit to Cardiff.

The Liberal Democrat leader said First Minister Carwyn Jones should not expect a "blank cheque".

The Welsh government wants the way it is funded to be reformed and for some tax-varying powers to be devolved.

Mr Jones has suggested that control over some taxes, including stamp duty and air passenger duty, could be handed to the Welsh government.

He also wants his administration to be given the power to borrow money.

Currently its budget depends on an annual block grant from the Treasury.

The coalition government in Westminster has established the Silk Commission to look at the future of devolution and the way Wales is funded.

'Finger pointing'

Mr Clegg told BBC Wales that he believed in giving more power away from London to Cardiff, but that it had to be done "not in a spirit of antagonism and finger pointing but as a partnership".

"With greater freedom and autonomy I think also comes greater accountability and responsibility," he said.

"There's no good simply the Labour Party in Cardiff saying 'we want more of this, that and the other, we want more money', but not taking any accountability and responsibility for raising more money in the first place," he said.

"My own view is that it isn't going to benefit the people of Wales for the Labour Party to endlessly indulge in this politics of finger pointing, the politics of blame, the politics of grievance - blaming everything on London even for things that have got nothing to do with the coalition government.

"Simply constantly shuffling responsibility on to other people and not taking responsibility for your own future ... I don't think it's very courageous, I don't think it's very noble, and I don't think it's a very effective way of actually promoting the interests of Wales.

"My message is quite blunt to the Labour Party in Wales: stop the finger pointing, stop the blame game, let's think about the people of Wales together and move forward providing more powers, more freedom, more autonomy to Wales in a spirit of partnership not in a spirit of blame."

Mr Clegg added that in the long run it would be an anomaly if Wales was denied "meaningful financial freedom".

On Mr Jones' call for reform of Welsh government funding, the Lib Dem leader said: "He can't have his cake and eat it.

"He can't constantly blame London and say 'I want a blank cheque but I don't want to take any responsibility where I can be held to account for how money is raised and then spent'."

The Welsh government declined to respond to Mr Clegg's comments.

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