Saturday, 11 June 2011
Let's get cracking
It didn't take Scotland's First Minister long to set out a basic list of expectations to the UK government following national elections at the beginning of May. This week he's managed to secure £2.7 billion worth of borrowing powers while continuing to bang the drum for control over other taxes and the Scottish land and marine holdings of the Crown Estates.
Contrast this energy and dynamism with Wales's First Minister. We've had a few weeks of farcical First Minister's questions with no programme to scrutinise. Question Time has been little more than an opportunity for the First Minister to opposition-bash. A good from of entertainment, no doubt, but isn't it all really a bit pointless? No doubt, the best form of defence is attack when nothing is happening. There have been no committees. There have been no list of demands to Cameron, but it'll all be ok because says he's written a letter about the crisis in Welsh broadcasting, although he's against devolving it, indicating his belief the Welsh media is safer in Cameron/Hunt's hands.
We all know the Welsh economy is weak. Job creation through the creation of new, home-based markets as proposed in the Valleys Greenprint is what is urgently needed and is something we could be getting on with now. Some of the ideas would need legislation, others could be helped by the Assembly having borrowing and other powers. Instead, as Eurfyl ap Gwylim pointed out in the Guardian more than a year ago:
"Because the Welsh government has no taxation or borrowing powers, it will have to take the cuts imposed on them and decide where the axe will fall."
Instead of creating jobs, Wales is losing them fast in the public sector. Instead of planning to stimulate the Welsh economy and standing up for Wales in talks with the UK government, Wales's First Minister seems to be on go-slow.
The deflection strategy can work for only a limited amount of time. I hope in next week's Assembly questions we'll get a clearer picture as to how the Welsh government intends to handle the problems facing Wales over the coming five years, that we'll have a programme to scrutinise. I hope that members get some answers to our fair questions about the government programme, the economy and how Wales's case is being pushed forward with the UK government. I'm not holding too much of my breath.