Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/343/5728

From The Socialist newspaper, 17 April 2004

Welsh Assembly

Re-Arranging Titanic's Deckchairs

AFTER A two-year investigation, the Richard Commission has recommended that the Welsh Assembly should be given primary law-making powers by 2011. 

Dave Reid, Socialist Party Wales

The same week it was revealed that a 55-year-old woman suffering from pneumonia and heart problems was forced to wait for a hospital bed on a trolley for four days at Swansea's Morriston hospital.

Former leader of the Lords, Lord Richard and his team of nine commissioners spent nearly two years examining the way the Cardiff Bay body works. Their report suggested giving the Assembly more powers gradually between now and 2011. It also suggests raising the number of Assembly Members from 60 to 80, and electing them using a single transferable vote system.

No power

The problem that Labour Lord Richard and the rest of the commission have had to grapple with is how can the Welsh Assembly work if it has no power to do anything?

Dissatisfaction has grown throughout Wales as none of the problems of Welsh society have been addressed let alone solved by the Welsh Assembly. The Assembly has been viewed with utter contempt by people in Wales.

Last May, while some schools complained they did not have enough classroom chairs for their students, the politicians squabbled over the seating arrangements in the Assembly. Thousands of pounds were spent moving the seats around the chamber so that they could each sit next to their friends.

A few minor reforms like free bus passes for the elderly have been outweighed by the worsening of major crises in health and education. One in ten of the Welsh population occupy a place on a health waiting list rather than in a hospital bed.

The 'Welsh Labour' majority in the Assembly has proudly boasted that top-up fees will not apply to Wales (for one year at least!) but the Assembly government has not got the cash to fund Welsh universities separately to England.

So, as Socialist Party Wales predicted when the Assembly was established, the Richard Commission has concluded that the Assembly should have law-making powers. But these powers will only apply to those areas of government devolved to the Assembly and the Welsh Office before it like health, education, housing and social services.

So the Welsh Assembly, even under these proposals, will have no power over fiscal and monetary policy, employment legislation, most energy matters, the railways, social security, broadcasting, equal opportunities, police or criminal justice, as well as defence, immigration and nationality issues.

It is proposing that the number of Assembly members should be increased from 60 to 80 to deal with the proposed new powers and allow for their election by the purely proportional representative system of Single Transferable Vote (as in elections to the Dail, the Irish Parliament) instead of the current Regional List mixture of 'first past the post' and proportional representation.

Socialist Party Wales has always supported law-making powers for the Welsh Assembly and would support the election of Assembly Members by proportional representation which would allow space for new representatives of the working class to challenge the four main pro-capitalist parties.

Failing system

However, the Richard Commission's proposals are a million miles from the aspirations of the ordinary working class people of Wales. These proposals are motivated by the desire to smooth out the creases of a failing system.

It looks likely that Labour Party Wales leadership will accept extra powers for the Assembly but not election by proportional representation nor the expansion of the number of Assembly Members to 80. The excuse used will be that people in Wales do not want more politicians in the Assembly. But if they were that concerned about the perception of politicians then they would not vote for their inflated salaries.

The basic problem is that the public services that the Assembly is responsible for are under-funded by the Blair/Brown government and all the main parties accept the basis for this under-funding. Richard concedes that there is a case for tax raising powers for the Welsh Assembly but everyone knows that there is little scope for taxing Wales anymore because the Welsh GDP is the lowest in Britain.

Socialist leadership

So unless a socialist leadership of the Assembly is elected that fights for the return of the billions of pounds taken from public services in Wales and the rest of Britain over the past 25 years then none of the crushing problems affecting public services can be solved.

Until fighters for the working class lead the Assembly then the Richard proposals amount to re-arranging the deckchairs on the deck of the Titanic. And re-arranging chairs is one thing that the Assembly already can do.

 

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 17 April 2004:

End The Occupation Of Iraq

Turning Point In Iraq


Socialist Party campaigns

Civil service strikes: Fighting Low Pay

NUT conference: Building A Fighting Leadership

Low Pay, No Way!

Getting Organised In The Fast Food Industry

Come to Socialism 2004


Socialist Party news and analysis

Welsh Assembly: Re-Arranging Titanic's Deckchairs

Austria: Court Victory Against Extreme Anti-Abortionists


 

Home   |   The Socialist 17 April 2004   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Socialist:

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Northern Ireland - what lies ahead?

triangleSouthampton Socialist Party: A report from NSSN conference

triangleSouthampton Socialist Party: The life of Black Panther Fred Hampton

triangleNational finance meeting

triangleQueues at Socialist Party stall in Cov

Wales:

triangleBeth Roper inquest: Train company failures ignored

triangleRevolt against 'social partnership' at Wales Trades Union Congress 2021

triangleSocialist Party Wales: Fight for socialism after the elections

triangle1920s-30s Britain: A working-class movement fighting unemployment and capitalism

Election:

triangleEnfield byelection: We need councillors prepared to resist

triangleLeft candidate needed for Unite general secretary election

triangleRight lose control in national executive council election

Health:

triangleWomen's health matters

triangleReaders' comments

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

16/6/21

Leicestershire

Engineers in fourth week of strike action

16/6/21

PCS

Conference 2021: Divide between union leaders and rank-and-file exposed

16/6/21

Electricians

Sparks win victory!

16/6/21

NHS

Underpaid, overworked - NHS workers say: 'Enough is enough'

16/6/21

Enfield

Enfield byelection: We need councillors prepared to resist

16/6/21

Unite

Left candidate needed for Unite general secretary election

16/6/21

Finance

National finance meeting

16/6/21

Unison

Socialist Party to the fore at Unison LG conference

16/6/21

Birmingham

Birmingham Clean Air Zone a tax on the poor

16/6/21

Cornwall

Johnson's G7 hypocrisy

16/6/21

Homelessness

Pandemic homeless

16/6/21

Protest

International solidarity protests

16/6/21

Socialist

Queues at Socialist Party stall in Cov

16/6/21

BFAWU

Majority of BFAWU members vote to break from Labour

16/6/21

NHS

Now is the time to fight for the NHS

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999