Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Simon Says

With their repeated claims this week that the problem in Wales is that the Welsh Government is not following the same policies as the UK Government, the Tories demonstrate yet again their innate unhappiness about the whole principle of devolution.  The ‘encouragement’ by Cameron for the Welsh Government to follow the English lead in freezing council tax is just the most obvious example.
It leaves the Welsh Government in an uncomfortable position to say the least.  If the government was setting out to put more money back into the economy in order to stimulate growth, then freezing council tax would not be the most effective way to do that - restoring part of the cuts to the capital budget would be a more effective approach.
It’s also the case that the savings to householders will be greater for those in the largest houses in any area.  It’s not true to say that the freeze won’t help the ‘hard-pressed’ families; it’s just that it’s also a way of giving rather more to the wealthier.  It has more to do with seeking electoral popularity for the Tories amongst their target voters than with helping the most hard-pressed.
So, on both counts – boosting the economy and helping those most hard-hit by the economic downturn – the Welsh Government would be right to conclude that freezing council tax might not be the best approach.
But there is no doubt that the Tories have correctly assessed the popularity of the move; and there’s little doubt in my mind that it would prove equally popular in Wales, even if council tax bills are already demonstrably lower here than in England.  And with at least two of the opposition parties in the Assembly only too willing to jump on the populist band wagon on the issue, I suspect that the Welsh Government have very little option but to follow the English lead.
Attempting to bounce the Welsh Government into decisions by making announcements at a party conference with no advance warning to Welsh Ministers is not the way that the devolved administration should be treated.  It clearly demonstrates that the political imperative of party advantage has been given precedence over any idea of co-operation and consultation.
Coupled with the warning from 'RT' that devolution will suffer a real crisis unless the Welsh Government falls into line behind England on a range of policies (I know that wasn’t exactly what he said, but it seems to me to be what he really meant), it does not auger well for the next five years.

5 comments:

Cibwr said...

Interesting how a freeze in council tax is not a give away or a freebie, while free prescriptions are....

Agreed they don't get devolution, as the National Assembly has no tax raising powers then any change in expenditure is going to highlight differences with England. That was the whole point and they don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Plaid in Caerffili already froze the council tax in their county.

Boncath said...

John
Council Tax is a Westminster Tax
County Councils in Wales demand payment in full and on time. even in situations where they owe you more money than the Council tax demand they still insist that payments are made in full and on time. This is non negotiable.

We in Wales have a very long track record of trying to reduce hard ship in our communities brought upon us by outside forces not only Westminster goverments of whatever colour. This is our culture and this is why we are globally respected
Go anywhere in the world outside England and say you are Welsh and you are among friends.
But I digress
On this matter as many others we in Wales are quite capable of making our own choices

David Cameron

Instead of telling us what to do you should respect our choices in the governance of our own country as we would respect yours in the governance of England

Siônnyn said...

Artie appears to me to have a bit of Redwood in him. He appears to despise the idea of Devolution, and look down his nose even more at the common Welsh man or woman.

Not long ago he was going on about ring fencing the NHS budget,because England are doing it, bit it was quite apparent even then that England were doing no such thing. British/English politics is broken beyond repair, and once Scotland achieves independence, or at least devo-max, which is the least they are likely to end up with, then the whole thing needs to be re-designed from scratch. The unionists don't get this, which means that the only sensible course left for Wales will be to follow Scotland down the road to freedom.

Glyndo said...

"Plaid in Caerffili already froze the council tax in their county"

Done for the same reason as John has attributed to the Tories. They think it will give them an electoral advantage. And it will have the effect that John suggests, a benefit to the "better off". I speak as a council tax payer, not someone on benefits who won't pay anyway.