Along Gorsedd Gardens Road in Cardiff, diagonally opposite City hall, the cloaked figure of David Lloyd George stands amongst the trees; shaking his bronze fist and spoiling for a fight with authority.
Rebellious, defiant, fearless. Nothing sums up the spirit of radical Welsh politics more for me than that iconic statue.
Lloyd George’s liberalism was radical, patriotic, forthright and energetic. He challenged the lazy assumptions and false promises of the Establishment, shaking his rhetorical fist at the authorities and vested interests that had failed so miserably to deliver for Welsh people.
I was thinking about that statue as the Welsh Assembly’s Expert Panel on Assembly Reform (EPAR) delivered its report.
At a time when Wales and Welsh people are becoming increasingly disadvantaged relative to other parts of the UK and when the relevance of the Assembly to everyday life in Wales remains difficult for many people to divine, where is our spirit of radicalism?
Where is the shaking fist of defiance? Where is the fearless search for solutions that will transform lives?
There was not much evidence of radicalism in the EPAR. Undeniably there were some welcome proposals – votes at 16, single transferable vote and gender balance are all important, sensible steps forward.
But then there was the proposal to increase the size of the Assembly. More politicians is a coda to a tune that has been played by the pipers of Cardiff Bay ever since the band was formed.
It is not a radical new idea that will change the lives of people in Wales, it is the same re-heated argument put forward by the Richard Commission (2004), the Silk Commission (2012), the Fourth Assembly Commission, the Fifth Assembly Commission which all pushed for more AMs, on the grounds of greater scrutiny and fairer workloads.
EPAR at least set out the costs of these proposals, although the £6-10m cost per year is waved away as it harmonises with previous reports in a chorus of “good scrutiny means good legislation, and good legislation pays for itself”.
I might remind them of that line next time taxes go up.
This year’s report goes further to reach the conclusion that: “Even marginal improvements in the scrutiny of the Welsh Government’s expenditure and policy-making would, reap significant dividends to the taxpayer.”
I have no way of disproving this, and witnessing the waste of public money on over-engineered flood defences in my own area, I have no hesitation in agreeing that Welsh Government money could be better managed.
However, putting aside my scepticism about more AMs, I have a broader issue.
The EPAR and the muted responses to it from the political parties show that there is a lack of radical thinking in relation to Wales’ constitution.
When considering the Assembly, too many politicos in Wales are caught in the mind-set of TINA – there is no alternative.
No matter how clearly it is staring us in the face, too few politicians in Wales are willing to grapple with the idea that on most objective measures, devolution (as delivered through Assembly government) is failing Welsh people.
The National Assembly has been in existence for 18 years, alongside Westminster governments of different colours. Yet it has failed to improve economic opportunities in Wales, failed to provide better health outcomes for Welsh people and failed to raise educational standards for Welsh children.
Devolution has not delivered for Welsh people, and no amount of blaming Westminster, blaming history, blaming Welsh media or talk of expansion offers a remedy to that failure.
Moreover, although devolution has become an accepted part of the fabric of Welsh civic society, it has failed to capture the imagination of the Welsh public.
It has become a £50m per year part of the political furniture, rather than a roaring hearth of social and economic change that Lloyd George would have imagined.
So how do we inject the radical fire and heat into our Welsh political home?
For all the good intentions of EPAR and those that have gone before, I fear another 20 damp AMs will only bellow more smoke into the eyes of the Welsh electorate.
Instead, in my view, we should be looking to reshape the Welsh constitutional settlement to allow for a directly elected national leader.
Whether we call him or her a President, First Minister, Governor, Y Mab Darogan, Wales needs a leader with a direct mandate from the people to deliver on the promises of devolution and create a platform for a deeper sense of Welsh nationhood.
A directly elected leader could step outside and above the turgid, unimaginative squabbling of Welsh Assembly party politics and stand on a mandate to deliver real change.
All of the main Assembly parties are shackled by their internal divisions or electoral calculus. Too many of the parties slip far too readily into the cosy consensus and soft group-think that dominates so much of the assembly agenda.
As data on low pay, inequality, social deprivation, air quality, waiting lists, mental ill health, school results show they have collectively failed to provide leadership with the vision, clarity or tenacity to deliver change for Welsh people.
A Welsh Labour stitch up to succeed Carwyn Jones looks certain to bring to the fore yet another “leader” who will achieve far more for insomnia suffers than any other group in Welsh society.
Expect more glossy reports, more “ambition” and more of the same in terms of impact in the real world.
The prospect of direct election might attract characters from outside the Cardiff Bay or Westminster bubbles who have less deference and timidity to a political system that works for the parties.
As we have seen most recently in France, as well as in US states like California and New York dynamic figures are more willing to come forward to run a presidential or gubernatorial executive that can co-exist successfully with a legislature (preferably proportionally elected).
This structure offers the opportunity for new voices to enter the fray to make different radical offers to the people, while maintaining appropriate checks and balances.
A direct mandate would provide the platform for exactly the sort of programme that Wales needs to change the political dynamics, arrest the psychology of decline, reshape our economy and deliver real change.
A presidential-style system would also provide a strong counter-point to the discredited Westminster system, and give Wales an executive and legislative structure that would be distinct and different in the eyes of the electorate.
Our constitutional structure could finally become the political foundation on which we can build our nationhood, rather than the schizophrenic mirror of England. It would be fresh, bold, radical and distinctly Welsh.
I accept there are risks, but I would like to see the Welsh political parties talking about different constitutional arrangements in Wales, rather than reverting to a tired script about more AMs.
I would like to see more politicians in Wales ready to shake their metaphorical fist at the Senedd and ask deeper questions about how we can improve things for Welsh people through reforming our constitution, rather than accepting group-think about limited alternatives.
As we look back at a year in which stories of sleaze and bullying have persistently circulated around Welsh politics, it’s time to recapture the spirit of reform and radicalism and look outside the envelope that was created for us by the half-hearted settlement we received in 1999.
After 18 years, the Assembly settlement feels tired and fragile and in desperate need of a reboot. The adoption of a presidential-style executive is one idea. There are others, including sortition (selecting representatives by lots).
Rather than incremental changes, and more of the same, we need to examine radical ways of doing democracy differently to reconnect our institutions with the people.
If we continue to be timid, there is a real risk that the dynamic, radical dream of home rule encapsulated by Lloyd George’s shaking fist, will be gradually crushed by ever more politicians riding the gravy train into Cardiff Bay.