Monday, 10 March 2014

Good quango, bad quango

Carwyn Jones’ comments on the WDA last week were nothing if not forthright.  I don’t rcall anyone else being quite as blunt in their criticism of the now-defunct body.
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”?


Anonymous said...

The WDA did perform extremely well for a time in attracting inward investment to Wales, more so than any other nation or region in the UK. But what is left unsaid is that Wales' economy still declined (relatively to the UK) during that period. So it didn't compensate for other problems in the Welsh economy. By the end, the WDA was quite unpopular and perceived as being out of control

We are possibly missing the international brand that the WDA gave us. I totally agree that a middle ground should have been found and that a new body (not bringing back exactly the same WDA) could be a good idea.

G Horton-Jones said...


Totally agree with anonymous

We all too often have assumed and are now almost conditioned to the mantra that Wales will be transformed economically by inward investment.

Pigs might fly

Unless we have true independence we are doomed to remain a colony (principality)

There is virtually no help for existing businessew or new start ups here

Look at our railways, our coal industry, and farming.

Perhaps I should also include fuel/electricity generation and steel making

All in a terrible state because control is not in our hands

G Horton-Jones said...


Milk from West Wales is apparently being transported to Italy to be converted into powder for re-export to America. Would be interested in the money chain and flow of this operation