Thursday 12 January 2023

Misusing the arguments


There is something fundamentally dishonest about the Tories demanding that the Welsh Government divert its resources in order to mitigate the problems caused by the Tory Government in London, but then ‘honesty’ is not a consideration which has often troubled them greatly. This week, it was a demand that the Welsh Government help out third sector organisations to provide additional help for their staff to deal with the cost of living crisis over which the UK government has presided. (In another example, last week, we had the Tory leader in the Senedd criticising Mark Drakeford for not ignoring UK government policy and simply paying NHS staff more: we can be reasonably certain that, had Drakeford done that from the outset, RT would have complained about him giving in to union bosses rather than standing firm.)

In response to the latest demand, Drakeford said that “…the Welsh Government cannot be the answer to every dilemma that every part of Welsh society faces.” He’s right, of course; but it isn’t the whole truth. In simplistic terms, “the … Government cannot be the answer to every dilemma that every part of … society faces” could be said to be true of almost any government at almost any time, but the missing part of that is that what’s also true is that the capacity of different governments at different times varies. And in the case of Wales, the fact that the Welsh government is able to do less than the UK government could do on the same problem (if it were to so choose) is a direct result of the fact that one government has fiscal independence whilst the other does not. The Tories’ demand that the Welsh Government do things which it does not have, and cannot obtain, the resources to do, and Drakeford’s response that he cannot do everything that he wants to do both sound to me like strong arguments for independence, or at the least for greater fiscal control. It’s a strange world in which constraints placed by London on Wales are used as an excuse for failure rather than a reason for removing those constraints, but it seems to be the inevitable result of a unionist mindset.

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