Thursday 31 July 2008

Titanic Brown

I find it hard to comprehend how far Labour have fallen in such a short time. Less than twelve months ago, they looked invincible; I was convinced that Gordon Brown would win an election any time he cared to call one. But now, I don't think he has any chance whatsoever of recovering the situation, and Labour are facing a potential wipeout.

Many in Labour seem to be trying to console themselves with the idea that if it went wrong so suddenly, it could just as easily turn around – they do, after all, have almost two years before an election becomes unavoidable. I think they're being unduly optimistic. There's been a change in mood of the sort which happens from time to time, and I suspect it's become irreversible before the next election.

I now think that Brown is doomed. Labour party MPs are starting to panic, and that just adds to the story line. Talk of replacing Brown is rife - but I doubt that it would make any difference at this stage. The ship is sinking. Arguing over who should be piloting it - rather than trying to plug the holes - is merely helping it to sink even faster.

Ceredig seems to blame the media; but my main criticism of the media in all this is not particularly the fact that they have decided on a particular story line – I suspect that they are actually reflecting more than promulgating a change in mood. Rather, it is that they have allowed Cameron and his Tories to get away with not explaining what they would do any differently.

There is an almost total policy vacuum from the Tories, which is hardly subject to questioning at all. The media are right to be holding Brown and Labour to account for a succession of failures. They are wrong, however, not to be subjecting Cameron and his crew to even a remotely similar level of scrutiny. That lack of scrutiny is in danger of encouraging voters to jump from the frying pan into the fire, rather than examining genuine alternatives. And jumping into the fire is something people would come to regret.

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Electoral Miscalculus

Ordovicius has already drawn attention to the underlying problem with yesterday's Western Mail story on the possible outcome of the next General Election. Indeed, given that the website concerned openly admits that they have no data or basis on which to predict any changes to the Plaid vote in Wales, I was left wondering how on earth the 'national newspaper of Wales' could possibly justify using it to run a story about election results in Wales in the first place. At the very least, it looks like pretty sloppy journalism.

The whole basis of the Electoral Calculus predictions is that polling data on the relative positions of the three English parties is input into the database and a result extrapolated from that. In essence, they are simply applying English swings to Welsh constituencies, and assuming no change at all in Plaid's share of the vote, and no unique 'Welsh dimension' to the election. In reality, if Labour's vote drops as much as appears increasingly likely, then a significant proportion of that lost vote is likely to come in Plaid's direction, rather than going to the Tories – the results would then look very different, which is one of the reasons why most observers expect any Tory gains to be significantly less than the story suggested.

One thing, however, does seem reasonably certain. Even on the most optimistic (from their point of view) assessment of the Tory vote, the Tories will remain a minority party in Wales, as they have been throughout the political history of our nation. They may well have a large majority in England, but they will, once again, be rejected by the people of Wales. That's a scenario for which we need to be planning now.

Based on the attitude of their current MPs (and, as far as I can see, their Westminster candidates with the sole exception of Glyn Davies), and the complete unwillingness of their leader to adopt any stance at all in relation to the future of Wales, I think we can expect to be dealing with a Westminster government which is basically hostile to the aspirations of the majority in the National Assembly. They have already shown a desire to block and obstruct the further transfer of powers; when they are in a position of power that will get worse.

In terms of 'Englandandwales' decisions, we can expect them to try and impose doctrinaire free market policies on Wales, exactly as they have done in the past, despite the lack of support in Wales. And we can expect them to try and rein back public spending in Wales (on schools, hospitals etc.) in order to introduce tax cuts for their well-off supporters in the South East of England. Nothing that they have said gives me any confidence that they will not revert to type on all of these issues.

We need to transfer as much power to the Assembly as we can before any of this starts to happen. And we need to hold and win that referendum. Whilst some might argue that we stand a better chance of winning it after the Tories gain power in England, I have serious doubts as to whether they will even allow us to hold one.

All of this is so, so predictable. I really cannot understand why so many in the Labour Party are so unwilling to work with us to protect the people of Wales from the coming Tory victory. Wales will be the only part of the UK in which they remain in Government two years from now – why are they so determined to see us put into a position where London Tories, rather than Welsh Labour, control our destiny?

Tuesday 29 July 2008

Open Borders

For many years, one of the sillier accusations thrown at Plaid by the London parties was that Independence would mean a string of border posts along Offa's Dyke. It was intended to make the idea of Independence look silly of course, but it was never something which Plaid advocated (although I did once suggest - jokingly - that if it was associated with a string of duty-free shops starting at the Severn Bridge services, it might even be quite a popular policy).

We have, on the contrary, always supported the concept of open borders within these islands, and my inclination would also be to support the Schengen Agreement, which has led to 15 members of the European Union abandoning border controls altogether between their countries. Border posts between the Schengen countries either stand disused, or, in many cases, have already been pulled down, and travel between the states concerned is now as easy as travel between counties in the UK – with just a sign marking the border.

The countries which signed up to Schengen have taken the view that it is more sensible and cost-effective to maintain a common external border, and to put their resources into controlling that, than to impose unnecessary border controls between each other. One of the main exceptions, of course, has been the UK, which has insisted on maintaining controls for people travelling to and from other EU states.

It was disappointing last week to see that, far from moving into line with the rest of the EU on this, the UK Government is actively seeking to introduce controls on movements between the UK and the Irish Republic; movements which have been uncontrolled for 80 years. I found myself wondering whether they would want to do the same for Wales and Scotland in the event of Independence.

There would be a rich degree of irony, given what London parties said about Plaid in the past, if a Welsh government signed up to Schengen and abolished border controls with most of the continent of Europe, but the Labour-Tory Little Englander separatists then insisted on creating border posts along Offa's Dyke.

Monday 28 July 2008

Birdwatching Terrorists

As organisations go, I'd always thought that it would be hard to find one more innocuous than the RSPB. As they say on their website, "Our work is driven by a passionate belief that we all have a responsibility to protect birds and the environment. Bird populations reflect the health of the planet on which our future depends." I find it difficult to argue with that, and I'm aware of the valuable work which organisations like the RSPB do in campaigning on major issues such as climate change as well.

It was therefore with a degree of disbelief that I read this weekend that the Tory candidate locally apparently believes that the RSPB, along with the RSPCA, has been hijacked by semi-terrorist lunatics, who have shaved off their beards to make themselves look respectable. He is, of course, entirely entitled to hold odd views and see dangerous people around every corner. He can even look under his bed each night in case there are any Communists hiding there, if he wishes. But this is a pretty sweeping accusation to be throwing at some highly respectable members of society.

I've had a brief look at the membership of the RSPB council, and I struggle to see which of them he could possibly be referring to. Could it be the distinguished journalist and broadcaster who is their President? Or perhaps the Professor who is the Chair, and is an internationally renowned ornithologist? Maybe the professor of ecology or the former Chief Executive of English Nature? I could go on, and I haven't even started on the RSPCA yet, where the Vice-Presidents include a Tory MP (Ann Widdecombe), and Sir Patrick Moore.

Referring to two organisations, both of which enjoy a great deal of support amongst the people he seeks to represent, as being 'so-called reputable' organisations seems to be an odd way for any serious candidate to be proceeding. Perhaps I should just thank him for his assistance in my own campaign.

Thursday 24 July 2008

Jobs and Benefits

It is hard to argue with the basic premise behind Labour's proposed changes to the benefit system for the unemployed, namely that it was never the intention of the architects of our system of benefits that people should be able to choose to live on benefits rather than to work. And that remains as true today as ever. But it doesn't mean that the proposed reforms are right or fair, or even that they address the basic point.

I think that there would be almost universal agreement that there should be a proper system of decent benefits for those who are unable to work, and one aspect of the proposed changes which I welcome is the increase in the level of benefits for those in greatest need. I think that there is probably also agreement across the spectrum that it is right and proper for the government to be actively encouraging those who can work to seek and find employment, and even to make it clear that 'choosing' to stay on benefits is not an option. Although the tabloids significantly overplay this aspect, I think we all know that there are a minority of people who just don't want to work, and are happy to live on the benefits paid for by the rest of us.

Having said all that, I am deeply unhappy with some aspects of the proposed changes. It seems to me that, on the back of an attempt to be seen to be tackling the workshy, the government are in danger of transferring the blame for unemployment entirely onto the backs of the unemployed themselves.

I have some direct experience of the unemployment benefits system. A few years ago, after being gainfully employed continuously for over 30 years, I was made redundant, and looking for a new job. I found the so-called Jobcentres less than helpful. They weren't in the least interested in what experience I had or whether any job was relevant or suitable; only in why I hadn't applied for any and every vacancy advertised in the Jobcentre. It was clear that they were target-driven - and that their targets were more to do with reducing benefits paid than with matching people to jobs.

There is a valid question to be raised, of course, as to what extent people receiving benefits should be allowed to pick and choose which jobs they do – and I'm well aware that there are some who will find the flimsiest reason for rejecting any and every job. But surely we should at least make some sort of effort to put round pegs into round holes, rather than drawing a simplistic straight line between an unemployed person and a vacancy?

The idea that people should be forced to do 'useful community work' to earn their benefits sounds oh so logical; but it leaves me more than a little uncomfortable, especially since it seems that the government is planning to contract this aspect out and allow private companies to make a profit from this unpaid work. If this is work that needs to be done, why not call it a job and pay a wage, rather than paying private companies to manage people doing what looks like some sort of 'compulsory voluntary work'?

Another specific proposal which leaves me cold is the idea that lone parents should be forced back to work when their children reach the age of seven. Given all the government emphasis on the issues arising from alienated youth, is this really a sensible thing to be doing at so young an age?

So, should the government do nothing at all? No, of course not – but I think that there are other things that could and should be looked at.

We could end the scandal by which unscrupulous employers hide behind 'agencies' who supply them with workers, usually from overseas, who, when their 'rent', 'fees' and other charges are deducted, end up working for less than the minimum wage. For all the government denials, I have no doubt that, as well as exploiting the 'agency' staff, this has directly reduced the number of jobs available to local people in a number of areas.

Let's look at the reasons which keep those who want to work out of work – lack of availability of jobs, mismatch between skills and jobs, poor public transport to get them there and back, wages which, after paying for transport (and possibly childcare), leave them worse off than they are on benefits.

And we could implement the 'living wage' concept which Plaid have argued for in the past, rather than depending on the minimum wage legislation.

I accept that we need to change the culture of benefit-dependency into which some have fallen. It was a mistake for the government, a few years ago, to actively encourage people onto Incapacity Benefit, sometimes needlessly, in order to 'hide' them from the unemployment figures. Stigmatising all those who are out of work – including those on Incapacity Benefit – by implying that they are all workshy may buy a few headlines in the Daily Mail, but it doesn't solve the deep problems faced in some of our communities.

Tuesday 22 July 2008

Mendel and Frankenstein

The arguments surrounding the adoption of GM crops are complex, with many different aspects to be considered. It is right that we should revisit the arguments periodically, but that should primarily be on the basis of new research or changed circumstances.

Today's suggestion that we should revisit the argument because 'farmers would be disadvantaged if Wales did not embrace GM technology' seems to me to be the wrong basis for a reconsideration. And the suggestion that opposition to GM is based on fear of 'Frankenstein foods', or some sort of anti-science attitude looks more like an attempt to 'play the man' than to deal with the substantive arguments against.

Proponents of GM foods argue that they can help us to produce bigger, pest-resistant, drought-resistant, and disease-free crops. These are significant prizes, and are not to be dismissed lightly in a world where people are dying of starvation, and where climate change may well make it harder for us to feed the world's population in the future.

Of course, there is an argument that there is actually plenty of food available in the world today, and that the problems are more to do with the way we share it than the way we grow it. That's probably true, but it doesn't stop people starving today, and the attractions of GM food for countries which would like to become more self-sufficient in food are surely obvious. (Having said that, part of the problem with the GM lobby is that what they say sounds very idealistic, but what they do is driven by commercial considerations. Their target market for the more expensive seed which they sell is often not the poorer countries which need more food, but the richer ones where they can charge more and make more profit.)

The companies tell us that GM food is safe to eat, as a result of the testing they've done. I have no basis to argue with that, but that has never been the main argument for me. My concern is more about the long term effects of GM crops on the environment.

Genetic change in organisms is a normal, natural event. Mutations happen, genes change over time, and organisms evolve. For millennia, humans have used these facts to 'change' the genetic structure of plants and animals through selective breeding, so as to suit human needs - and that includes improving crops, increasing disease resistance and so on. We have also learnt that when one organism changes, other organisms change in response, in ways which are not always predictable; natural adaptation takes some curious paths.

The two key differences, for me, between selective breeding and genetic modification are, firstly, that the combinations of genes go beyond anything likely to be achievable in nature (selective breeding can't put a jellyfish gene into a wheat plant!), and secondly that the pace of change is much faster - what might take generations of selective breeding to achieve can be achieved in a single generation. These two key differences are, of course, the whole point of GM - but it's the effects which concern me.

The fact that many genes work in combination, as well as singly; the mechanisms by which genes can cross-transfer to other organisms, including horizontal gene transfer; and the effect on other organisms as they seek to adapt are all areas where the consequences are unpredictable. At a genetic level, the biosphere is sufficiently complex that I believe that chaos theory can be said to apply. In simpler terms, a small change made in one organism may lead to larger, unpredictable changes in others. Now, I'm sure that advocates of GM would tell me that this ultimately boils down to a question of probability and risk – and I'd agree.

My conclusion at present is simply that we don't have a good enough handle on the probabilities to be taking the risks which are currently being taken, let alone the higher risks posed by more complex genetic manipulation. And until we do, I want GM to stay safely in the laboratory. It's worthy of continued research, but not release into the natural environment - especially when the motives of those arguing for so doing are more to do with profit than with feeding the world, and the research findings on which they base their assessment of safety are usually those of the companies who have a vested interest in selling their products.

Monday 21 July 2008

Events, dear boy...

It was Harold Macmillan who allegedly responded with the words "Events, dear boy. Events.", when asked by a journalist what could blow a government off course. In a more modern vernacular, we might say "Stuff happens".

The resignation of the Culture Minister last Friday certainly came as a surprise to most of us. I reveal no secrets by saying that it led to a flurry of telephone calls over the weekend. And I've spent part of today answering questions about the matter on a variety of radio programmes, in English and in Welsh.

It would be wrong, however, to see the resignation as an 'event', in the sense referred to by Macmillan. Continued publicity could have become such an 'event', but it is to the credit of both Rhodri Glyn and Ieuan Wyn that they have recognised this danger and taken immediate steps to avoid it. Rhodri's letter of resignation makes it perfectly clear that he is standing down to avoid further comment and publicity of the sort that has been following him in recent weeks, and which he felt was inevitably going to continue.

Everyone in Plaid is determined to make "One Wales" a success, and we are simply not going to let 'side-stories' undermine that, or divert attention from the job in hand. That, ultimately, is what led to the resignation.

I was fascinated to see the suggestion by Glyn Davies about how the party's press department are working overtime to blacken the character of the ex-Minister. This is simply not a picture of Plaid's press operation which I recognise – the Party most emphatically does not employ staff to brief against our own elected members. I haven't authorised, and would not permit, such use of party staff time.

Sorry, Glyn, but sometimes, there really isn't a conspiracy to be found.

Saturday 19 July 2008

The hots and the nots

Whilst much of the UK is looking forward to the creation of more and more broadband hotspots, extending the usability of boadband services, here in rural Wales we are more concerned about dealing with the notspots – the areas where no service at all is available. The problem is a widespread one, and there is a particular problem in my own village of Llanpumsaint, extending down to Bronwydd as well, where hundreds of people are without the service.

The One Wales Government is working to resolve the issues, and the Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, visited the area himself this week to hear the concerns at first hand. Despite the short notice, and the fact that the meeting was held in an afternoon rather than an evening, the hall was packed, and residents made their frustrations very clear.

Given the numbers of people across the whole of Wales who are suffering from these problems, and the cost of putting them right, it’s hardly surprising that expectations are not being met if the delivery of the service is dependent on Government funding.

That’s an important ‘if’, however. I am not going to argue against the government stepping in and sorting the issue – of course not. We want action, and we want it now, and I'm pleased that Ieuan is working to address the problem. But having spoken to other broadband suppliers locally, who make commercial decisions about whether to invest in new capacity or not, and who have been supplying broadband to some of the people who BT have not helped, there is surely a valid question to be asked about the use of government funding.

In the short term, it seems we have no option but to ask the government to pay BT to provide a service. But shouldn’t a company which is making billions of pounds’ profit each year be expected to fund this sort of investment itself, rather than receive government subsidies? There is a ‘public service obligation’ on BT to provide telephone services; in an age where broadband should be the norm, shouldn’t we extend the legislation to make provision of a full service part of that obligation?

Thursday 17 July 2008

That's better

The proposed reconfiguration of the management of the NHS announced yesterday by Edwina Hart goes a lot further than her original proposals. The merger of LHBs and Trusts is a much more radical move than the previous suggestion, and marks a more decisive break with the 'internal market' philosophy introduced by the Tories. No wonder that the Tories' leader is unhappy as one of the most ideological and unnecessary changes ever made to our NHS is swept away in Wales, following the examples of Scotland and Northern Ireland. Only in England will this crazy system remain in place. And it's no coincidence that only in England do Labour rule alone.

Nick Bourne is right, of course, in saying that it is "a total reversal" of the previous stance of the Labour Party and the Labour Government in Wales; but I for one think that is to be welcomed, not condemned. Since when has recognising past mistakes and correcting them been something for which people should be criticised?

The new proposal also deals directly with one of the three concerns that I expressed in my previous post. The split between primary and secondary care providers didn't make sense to me – or to many of those working in the NHS - and I'm glad that the Minister has now come to the same conclusion. I think it is also one of the few occasions on which a government consultation exercise has actually been meaningful, with the proposals being changed in response to comments received, another welcome departure from past practice.

I remain unconvinced that the final number and boundaries of the proposed bodies is based on a careful consideration of what is needed, rather than on what is easily achievable from the starting point. Obviously, I would have preferred to see Plaid's election manifesto proposal implemented, and a commission established to study the whole question. I suspect though that what is now proposed is considerably closer to what the outcome of such a commission would have been.

The Minister is also allowing more time for consultation following the publication of the revised proposals. I very much hope that adequate time will be allowed as well for implementing the proposals, and that lessons will have been learned from previous rushed changes.

The main thing which I and other people locally do still want to see, however, is clarity over what services are to be provided where. Campaigners supporting Withybush Hospital, in particular, remain unclear on the long term plans for services to be delivered from that hospital, and in the absence of such a statement, concerns will remain.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Swansea Hustings

I was away last week, and missed the party's hustings meeting held in Carmarthen to select our list of candidates for the European elections. So last night, it was down to Swansea to see the candidates put through their paces - and of course, to vote.

Under our rules we give no protection or preference to incumbents, who have to go through the same process as aspiring candidates. It is, however, inevitable that the experience of doing the job for a period will influence their knowledge and understanding of what is, or isn't, possible. The standard of questioning was high, with some big issues being raised. It was almost unfair to expect the candidates to respond to some of the issues in such a short time.

Most encouraging, for me, was the way in which the question of globalisation was aired by one questioner. This is one of those issues which goes to the heart of what makes Plaid different from the other parties. The others tell us that globalisation is inevitable, and we have to fall in with the trend and accept it. I've never been convinced by this. On the contrary, I think we need to be re-localising the economy, processing raw materials and using goods closer to the point of production as far as possible.

Globalisation is sold as benefiting the developing nations, but it seems to me that the only people who really benefit are the multinational companies. Replacing manufacturing jobs in Wales with sweatshops and child labour in the developing nations doesn't look to me like a particularly good deal for either side. The only aspect of globalisation which is remotely encouraging is the way in which it spurs like-minded groups across the world to come together to oppose it.

Bourne aims at wrong target

Nick Bourne displays his outrage today over the One Wales Government's legislative programme, choosing to target in particular the lack of mention of the Welsh Language. If he wants to attack people for a lack of support for the language, I can offer him a target much closer to home, where a few well chosen words from him might even have an effect.

It is standard practice for his party in this part of Carmarthenshire to issue all their literature in English only, and include a little note on the bottom saying that anyone who really wants it in Welsh can telephone and they will be sent a special version.

For all Bourne's fulminating, the Conservative Party in these parts remains very much an English party. If they want to start claiming to be reaching out to Welsh-speakers, they need to do a bit more than express false outrage in occasional press statements.

Thursday 3 July 2008

Tweedledum and Tweedledee

My Tory opponent tries to argue again this week in the letters column of the 'Carmarthen Journal' that the choice in this constituency is between Labour and Tory. I suppose I should at least acknowledge that he's no longer trying to base his claim on the mathematical absurdity that 1 is larger than 7.

Unsurprisingly, I still take issue with his claim.

Firstly, although I am not a great believer that either by-elections or mid-term opinion polls are accurate predictors of general election results, they can and do indicate a trend, particularly if they continue over a lengthy period. Volatility – or even collapse - in Labour support changes the nature of the coming campaign. And the Assembly result (the only other election fought on current boundaries) showed that this constituency can be seen as a three-way marginal.

Secondly, I really do challenge his assertion that Labour-Tory is any real sort of choice. Tories close rural schools; Labour close rural schools. Tories close 3,500 post offices; Labour add another 2,500. Labour launch illegal wars; Tories support them. Doesn't look like much of a choice to me. Given the Conservative reluctance to spell out what their policies are (on anything!) – and their refusal to commit to reversing any Labour policies – what is their basis for arguing that they will do anything different?

Finally, his suggestion that Plaid have only announced last week that we are in favour of Independence for Wales shows a lack of knowledge of Welsh politics which is truly staggering; although sadly not untypical of the English Conservative Party.

I doubt that anyone will be surprised if I say that my aim is to show people that there is a real alternative to either of the London-centric parties – and that is for us to take our future into our own hands by supporting Plaid.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Saving small schools

I'm no fan of Carmarthenshire county council's approach to the issue of small schools in rural areas. My own children attended a small village school, and I know how well they can work, and the sense of family and community ownership which they generate.

The county council are far too ready to close them, and whatever they say about the reasoning, I'm convinced that their primary motivation is financial. They are trying to replace them with what they call 'community schools' – a somewhat Orwellian name, given that their enlarged catchment areas often have little to do with any real sense of community.

When I first heard that the education minister had rejected a plan to close Llansadwrn school, I was delighted, as were, I am sure, all those parents who have been campaigning to stop the closure programme. It's in the next door constituency, so I haven't been aware of the detailed arguments for and against, but here was hope that this would be a precedent on which we could build. Looking at the reasons given, I have become, however, a little more wary.

The county council have claimed this week that the decision, far from saving small schools, actually endangers more of them. Now, Carmarthenshire County Council are masters of spin and selective quoting of fact; and I am well aware that this is, in part at least, an attempt to gloss over the minister's comments on the way in which Carmarthenshire County Council conducted the process.

But it does seem that the minister has also told them that the new school that they were proposing to create is still too small, and suggests that the Council should look at a wider merger involving other schools in the area. It's bad enough having a county council hell-bent on closing our schools, without having a minister egging them on – and giving them someone else to try and blame for what are, in the end, decisions of the ruling group on the county council.

Tuesday 1 July 2008

The English Question

From my reading of what Kenneth Clarke had to say today, the Tories are continuing to struggle with the whole issue of devolution, and particularly with the question of what to do in England. It would be pretty easy for us here in Wales – particularly in Plaid – to say it's an English problem; leave them to it. After all, our argument is that we want Wales to be free to follow its own path; why wouldn't we be content to allow England to do likewise?

Easy, but mistaken in this case. If the Tories (or any other party come to that, but Labour have already been bitten once, and seem unwilling to come back to the question) were suggesting some sort of separate institution for England, either as a whole or else by establishing regional assemblies, then I would be quite content to leave them to it. But they're not; they're trying to tinker with UK institutions to achieve their objectives – and that makes it our concern as well.

The first question is why they are doing it. Their proposals bear little sign of serious thought about what the constitution should look like, and every sign of trying to play on – and foment – English resentment and anger as a tool for their own electoral purposes. In the short term, it may even work, but they are likely to find that they create as many problems as they solve in the process.

The second is that, since the extent and nature of devolution differs in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the issue isn't as simple - as they seem to think - as defining 'English-only' legislation. Some laws will apply only in England; some only in England and Wales, some only in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, some only in Northern Ireland - and just about every other possible permutation. That makes at least four different classes of MP, and deciding which MPs can vote on which laws looks like an absolute nightmare to me.

This confusion might also create an opportunity for Wales, however - if the Tories were ever to discover the concept of consistency. Given that devolution, particularly to Wales, remains incomplete in a whole host of areas, Westminster may still be passing some laws which apply only to Wales – and there are rather more which include clauses relating only to Wales. What about only allowing Welsh MPs to vote on these laws and clauses?

The Tories' proposal is aimed at preventing Welsh and Scottish MPs (predominantly Labour) imposing their will on England (which is generally predominantly Tory). Logic would surely dictate that English Tories should, in the same way, be prevented from imposing their will on Wales, wouldn't it? And, while we're about it, how about only Welsh MPs voting on Assembly LCOs...