Wednesday, 18 May 2011

... The Bad ...

From my vantage point, the absolute low point of the One Wales years was the change of government policy on student fees.  Seeing Plaid AMs voting against one of the manifesto commitments on which they were elected was an uncomfortable moment, to say the least. 
Compromise in coalition is sometimes inevitable, and we all need to understand that, but the worst aspects of this episode were not to do with the making of the compromise itself, but the failure by some within the Assembly to recognise just how strongly some of us outside the Assembly felt on this issue, and the apparent expectation that the party would simply fall into line behind what the leader and the ministers had decided.
The failure to deliver on a daily newspaper in Welsh was another disappointment.  Again, though, it was the handling of it which caused me the most grief.  An honest statement that a pledge was being broken because the numbers simply didn’t stack up would have been immensely preferable to an attempt to argue that no pledge was being broken at all because there had never been any commitment to one particular option.  (There had not, of course, been a specific commitment to Y Byd, nor should there have been; but the simple and undeniable facts are that One Wales pledged a daily newspaper in Welsh - and there is still no such newspaper.)
It’s all very well developing exciting strategies, but they also need to be implemented.  I don’t think that I’m alone in feeling that production of strategies seems to have become an end in itself, and that once the strategies have been published, business carries on as before.  I don’t think I’m far away from Carwyn Jones on this one; we’ve probably got enough strategies to be going on with – let’s implement some of them, and do so with conviction and determination.
Locally in Carmarthenshire, the difference between words and actions - what the government said it was doing and what it actually did - came very much to the fore in the field of education.  I’ve posted on this a number of times, but for all its fine words on Welsh-medium education, the One Wales government was effectively an active participant in denying that opportunity to children in parts of Carmarthenshire.  Similarly, the drive from Cardiff to close small rural schools ran directly against what most of us had been saying for years.  Simply blaming the councils which were implementing government policy was not good enough.
And then, of course, there’s the economy.  I’m not sure that it’s entirely fair to say that One Wales failed spectacularly – the Welsh Government doesn’t really have the tools and levers it needs to have the necessary degree of influence.  There is though, a tendency to suggest that they can achieve more than is ever actually going to be achievable, and that invites people to compare performance with the promise rather than with the achievable.  On that comparison, the failure looks worse than it should or need look – why oh why do politicians walk into that one?


Bethan said...

some of us did stick to our principles John. Thanks for reconginsing that!

Spirit of BME said...

I trust your next blog will be .....The Ugly.....?

Boncath said...

The non appearance of Y Byd was a tragedy perhaps even a travesty
Wales needs a newspaper for Wales a genuinely bi lingual one
The best seller in Wales the Daily Mail called on Saturday for an independent England controlled permanently by a Conservative government
Hwyl or as they say over the border where the moon rises ie Lloegr Sieg heil