Monday 7 April 2014

Please sir...

Sometimes, the people with the grandest job titles turn out to have the least power and influence.  It’s almost as though those bestowing the titles feel that those receiving them can be bought off with a fine-sounding name as a substitute for money or power.
I’m not aware of many cases, however, where the original request was for a grand title instead of money or power.  The question of the name given to our National Assembly seems to be one of those rare exceptions. 
Last week, it was reported that Plaid are submitting an amendment to the Wales Bill currently wending its way through the House of Commons, seeking a change in the name of the National Assembly to the “National Parliament of Wales, or Senedd Genedlaethol Cymru”.  The desire for a name change isn’t restricted to Plaid of course; the (Labour) Presiding Officer has expressed a similar view in a personal capacity, and the leader of the Conservative group has put forward the same suggestion on behalf of his group (although, as we have learned recently, everything that he and his group say is purely a personal opinion unless it’s been agreed by the Secretary of State in advance).
Clearly, it’s important for any nationalist that Wales has a ‘proper’ parliament; but when I talk about a ‘proper’ parliament, I mean one with proper powers, not just a proper name.  The name is ultimately an irrelevance; what matters is what it can do, and the very fact that we have Welsh politicians beseeching London politicians to change the name merely serves to underline that lack of power.  I rather suspect that, if and when the Assembly has the power to decide for itself what it should be called as part of a more wholesale transfer of power, the name would be seen as the irrelevance which it is.
Besides, there’s nothing wrong with ‘National Assembly’.  A quick look at the names given to national legislatures across the world reveals that it’s actually a very common name.  Only a blinkered UK-centric view would lead anyone to the conclusion that there is any significant difference between a parliament and an assembly.
But, when the Assembly can decide for itself what it should be called, and if the politicians still think that it’s of any great import, then the aspect of a name change which is of greatest psychological importance isn’t the difference between an Assembly or a Parliament – it’s whether the name of the country needs to be included at all.  Most nations don’t feel the need to include the name of their country in the name of their legislature – why should we?  There’s something very insecure about feeling that to be necessary.


Anonymous said...

I agree John.

I have no idea why Plaid feel the need to add the word 'national' either.

Does it mean that Welsh institutions without 'national' in their name are in some way not national?

Phil Davies

Anonymous said...

I sense the desire for any further devolution has come to an abrupt end. Yes, the politicians will still strive for new powers but the voting public will never grant such.

Truth is, this Welsh parliament has just turned out to be a rather expensive game.

Old_Miwl said...

Fair enough point but there are 2 reasons why i think the name needs to be changed. The first is to try to clear up the confusion between the Welsh Government and the Assembly. Taking the A word from the Government has helped, but while we still have an "Assembly" the confusion will continue.
The second is that while the term "National Assembly" is common throughout the world, it appears to have been deliberately chosen in the context of Wales to denote a different (ie lower) status than that enjoyed by the Scottish Parliament and the 'proper' parliament in Westminster.
What it can do, and what it actually does, is far more important but as the much admired private sector tells us, branding is important.

Anonymous said...

Surely because 'it' can do so little, the term 'national assembly' is entirely correct.

Mind, I can feel another referendum coming on.

treborc said...

Sadly while England holds the purse strings and can order a cut of two to pull us back into line, all we are of course is a ded awssalsprincipality no matter what people say.

G Horton-Jones said...


Think outside the box

Does the word Welsh or Wales inserted in a organisational name make it Welsh

The Secretary of State for Wales.
The Prince of Wales. The Land Registry (Wales). The Welsh Cavalry
and so on