Friday, 10 June 2011

Carwyn and Canute

In continuing to oppose taxation powers for Wales, Carwyn Jones is at least being consistent with what he and his party said during this year’s elections.  Even if it’s only being consistently wrong.
He’s not a stupid man, so I half wonder whether he isn’t acting in the true spirit of Canute.  He knows that he can’t stop the tide, but has to act as though he can in order to convince a reluctant Labour Party that they really have no choice.  The question is how far the tide has to rise before he abandons the position he has taken.
I can see how he might even believe that getting half wet in the attempt might, in a roundabout sort of way, be doing Wales a favour.  It won’t change anything, but it might carry more of his own tribe with him than embracing the proposal with a little more enthusiasm.  But if that is his reasoning, I think that he’d be wrong on that score as well – because it would be, in essence, just another example of the way the devolution process has been managed to suit the internal needs of one fractious party rather than the practical needs of Wales.
And in reality, failing to engage with London in a proper debate at an early stage means that the nature of taxation powers to be devolved will be shaped entirely by those following a different agenda.  There’s no guarantee, of course, that they’d actually listen to a reasoned case even if Carwyn put it forward; but there’s an absolute guarantee that they won’t listen to a case which isn’t put.
The case which the Welsh Government should be putting is for a range of taxation powers which would give them more control over the Welsh economy; more power to adjust the ratio between different taxes, rather than simply power over a proportion of one tax, which could easily turn out to be a double-edged sword.
The main argument used by Labour in their successful election campaign was that they would protect Wales from the UK Government.  But protecting Wales surely requires a willingness to seek to influence the UK government, not simply reject its proposals.


Anonymous said...

Very reasonable and sensible argument John. Which is precisely the reason it will be ignored by Welsh Labour.

It's easier for Labour to carry on with pantomime anti-Tory slanging than make a positive medium term decision.

Anonymous said...

Unfortuanately agree totally with anom above. Labour interests win over Welsh interests every time.

Despite the polls in favour the Labour party in Wales see opposing the nasty tories trieing to force tax (Powers) on us as a vote winner and will fight it all the way, no matter how much sense pwoer over taxation would make if Labour were serious about offering a genuine alternative to the cut fast and deep narrative in Westminster.

But heyho, such is the history of devolution in Wales - what ever suits the short term electoral success of the Labour party.


Unknown said...

This is a decent post. Using the same analogy, the rising tide lifts all boats. Labour's (or Carwyn Jones') current agenda on borrowing is on the basis of everyone else getting them. He has to manage this agenda in a way that won't frighten his own party but alot of it- in terms of avoiding fiscal responsibility- will be difficult to handle and to justify.

Unknown said...

I had not thought of carwyn as a Cnut before - but the analogy is a good one - except tat the tied he is trying to turn is, alas, Scottish rather than Welsh at the present time.

He is beginning to look more like Hain's representative in Wales than his own man - and a wonderful chance for Plaid to spend the next 5 years to capitalise on that, except to do that, we need to get organised.

Joining the government from a position of weakness would be the death of the party, IMHO, whatever Cynog and DET say.

Spirit of BME said...

The First Minister in Wales will have to do one thing and that is listen to his Masters in London and ensure he does not expose Labour in England and at Westminster to “ridicule” such as been seen in recent PMQ`s over NHS cut backs. Allowing the Assembly government to go “rouge” is not on the cards.
The picture of the HMV dog – Nipper listening carefully to the sound of his master’s voice springs to mind.
Welsh interests ,good governance will have to be sacrificed for the rehabilitation of Labour`s rebuild ,so Nipper Jones will be told to close things down and do only what the Civil Service states has to be done .
Well, that’s what the Welsh people voted for and that is what they have got.

Anonymous said...

Not quite related John, but I'm sure you'd enjoy it:

John Dixon said...


Thanks for the link. Syniadau also has the clip on this post: