I’m not sure the comments are all entirely convincing however, although the suggestion that the organisation “lost its way” after the LG debacle has a ring of truth to it, as does the other comment about it becoming less effective when the money ran out.
Perhaps he thought all of this at the time but was simply reluctant to say so.
Total abolition, however, seemed to be a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The earlier success of the organisation led to a certain amount of jealousy from other parts of the UK; so it must have been doing something right for part of the time at least. I never really understood why the choice of a way forward had to be quite as binary is the way it was presented – either an arm’s-length quango run by the great and the good appointed by the government, or full integration into the civil service. No effort was made to try and keep the successful elements whilst closing the democratic deficit – a compromise which could have been a better way forward than drowning the organisation in the civil service culture.
(As an aside, it was interesting to read on the weekend that Plaid are looking to create a new body to fill the gap left by the WDA. I remember being surprised, and not a little disappointed, a few years ago when Plaid’s leader in the Assembly announced the party’s full support for merging the WDA into the civil service. I knew that I wasn’t alone in that surprise, although it was only several years later that I discovered that the party’s spokesperson on the economy had, apparently, been equally surprised.)
Abolition of quango-land – a system of government where the great and the good are appointed by mysterious processes to run major aspects of our national life – is something I’ve long supported. So I have a lot of sympathy with Carwyn’s position when he says “I do not agree that setting up a quango for your mates is the best way of dealing with the Welsh economy”. I do wonder though whether he’s told the other Carwyn Jones about this – you know: the Carwyn Jones who recently set up new quangos to run Wales’ two “city regions”?