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Gordon Brown report ‘undermines’ Welsh Labour over justice powers say Plaid Cymru

05 Dec 2022 5 minute read
First Minister Mark Drakeford is “living in fantasy land”, after he described the UK as a “great insurance policy,” Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts MP has said.

Gordon Brown’s report into the UK’s constitutional future “undermines” Welsh Labour by not promising them powers they themselves have asked for, according to Plaid Cymru.

The report of the commission on the UK’s future – headed by ex-premier Gordon Brown – was published today and only explicitly promises further powers over youth justice and the probation service to Wales.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has welcomed the report but Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville-Roberts said it fell short of Welsh Labour’s own requests for more powers.

The Welsh Government has previously supported the full devolution of justice and the establishment of a legal jurisdiction for Wales.

The discrepancy showed the “disdain the central Labour party holds towards the only government it currently runs”, according to Ms Saville Roberts.

As part of their Cooperation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, the Labour Welsh Government also supported the devolution of policing and justice, as well as the Crown Estate and broadcasting. Gordon Brown’s report makes no mention of the latter two policy areas.

“This report is a damp squib for Wales. The message from Gordon Brown to the people of Wales: if you want a democracy equipped with the powers to do a proper job – vote Plaid Cymru,” Liz Saville Roberts said.

“By offering more powers to Scotland than to Wales, Labour is once again showing that how much they are in awe of SNP-run Scotland while taking Labour-run Wales for granted. Scotland is rewarded while Labour is content for Wales to make-do and mend with piecemeal powers.

“Not only does this report not go far enough, but it also backtracks from previous Labour promises – the 2017 Labour manifesto having promised the devolution of policing to Wales.

“The Labour Welsh Government’s Thomas Commission recommended that justice should be wholly devolved, and a Welsh legal jurisdiction created. This timid report only offers piecemeal powers over youth justice and probation, showing the level of disdain the central Labour party holds towards the only government it currently runs.

“The undermining of their Labour colleagues in Wales also raises questions as to whether a UK Labour Government would ever properly implement the recommendations of the Welsh Government’s Independent Constitutional Commission.

“The Labour Welsh Government have supported Plaid Cymru’s policy of devolving powers over the Crown Estate. This report fails to even mention those powers, again treating Wales as less deserving than Scotland.

“This report does nothing to change the fundamental inequalities of the UK. Despite vague promises of giving Senedd and Scottish Parliament members the same status as MPs, the report also recommits to the principle of Parliamentary Supremacy. For as long as that fundamental principle remains, the Senedd will always be subservient to Westminster.

“Despite Labour claiming this is the biggest transfer of power away from Westminster, it is clearly not to the people of Wales.”

‘Stronger union’

Mark Drakeford however welcomed the report, saying that it put forward “important ideas”.

“The union of the United Kingdom is under greater threat now than at any other time in its long history as a result of the actions – and neglect – of successive UK Conservative Governments,” he said.

“I want to thank Gordon Brown for all the work he has put into this timely, comprehensive report and set of recommendations for the future of the UK. I am very grateful for the engagement we have had during the development of this report.

“Labour is the party of devolution and this report shows that only Labour is thinking urgently about the future of the United Kingdom. This report puts forward important ideas about how power can be devolved and shared throughout the country to create a stronger union and a stronger United Kingdom.

“I look forward to seeing these recommendations realised as soon as we have a Labour UK Government.”

Jo Stevens, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales meanwhile promised a widespread consultation.

“I’d like to thank First Minister Mark Drakeford, former First Minister Carwyn Jones and Baron Murphy of Torfaen for their work on Gordon Brown’s Commission that has resulted in the report and recommendations published today,” she said.

“As Keir Starmer has said, we will now consult widely on the recommendations as they form part of our wider plan to build an economy in which growth is created by and for everyone everywhere.”

Sidenote

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “While we welcome that Labour are finally moving on the issue of the House of Lords after decades of campaigning by the Liberal Democrats, Wales feels like nothing but a sidenote in this report, showing a lack of ambition for our nation.

“The also appears to follow a long-running pattern of giving Scotland more powers than Wales.

“In particular, the recommendation on devolving youth justice to Wales actually falls short of the Silk Report from 2011, which recommended devolving policing and looking at criminal justice. In this regard, Labour seemed to have moved backwards.

“Another crucial element not present is the devolution of borrowing powers, vital if Wales is to be able to build the infrastructure our economy needs to thrive.”

“Finally, the elephant in the room is once again missing. If we are to build a truly fair and equal democratic system in the UK, that means ditching first past the post elections in Westminster and bringing in proportional representation, something which Labour has again missed out.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
2 months ago

Out of all of them Liz is the straight talker and the one to believe…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
2 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

This illustrates why Wales should have its own Covid investigation…

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
2 months ago

Labour have nothing but contempt for the people of Wales, this report proves that. I for one won’t be voting for them.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
2 months ago

‘Jo Stevens, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales meanwhile promised a widespread consultation’.

How many more consultations must we endure? We have had them already (Thomas, Silk, Richards, etc.).

Just get on with it please, Labour!

Last edited 2 months ago by Mr Williams
SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

Their membership does not support any form of conatitutional reform so a consultation will likely result in no new powers whatsoever.

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
2 months ago

“Labour is the party of devolution…”

[citation needed] as Wikipedia would say.

If Labour were the party of devolution, why wasn’t the Senedd given devolved powers equivalent to Scotland?

Divide and rule is alive and well.

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
2 months ago

I have said this before but Drakeford is starting to look a bit behind the times. Welsh Labour need to be careful, the pandemic has shown the people in Cymru that there is the government here and that’s good, but it also means that Welsh Labour need to be on high alert and avoid any complacency at all costs. As for Starmer’s Labour, I despise it. …But I will say this, if I need to vote for his despicable party to get that useless old hag out of my constituency, so be, but I will be emailing them every week… Read more »

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

If Labour voters in Wales want to see radical new powers or independence, this is something they will all need to do.

UK Labour does not care about Wales beyond winning a few seats here to get into Westminster.

John Brooks
John Brooks
2 months ago

Is seems to me that this report, if implemented, would treat Wales as an English region. Scotland is being given special treatment in the forlorn hope that Labour can get votes back from the SNP.

The message from Labour is clear, if you want either more powers for, or independence, you need to deprive Labour of its assured Westminster seats in Wales. That means voting for Plaid Cymru.

Last edited 2 months ago by John Brooks
Dafydd
Dafydd
1 month ago

Drakeford’s party will have as an English region forevermore.

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Dafydd

West Anglia it is Dafydd

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

We must let the Labour Party in Wales do their own thing as the Tory’s do. These new ( old ideas re mixed ) are of no consequence at all to the lives of our young folk. Gordon Brown is living in another time and things have moved on well beyond these crumbs .

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago

How predictable that Mark Drakeford has come out in support of these proposals even when they fall far below what was asked for even by Drakeford, himself.

If it was the Conservatives suggesting such lame constitutional “reforms”, his response would be very different!

Andy Williams
1 month ago

england first, Scotland second, Wales third, and Northern Ireland fourth or maybe Wales and northern Ireland joint bottom. Don’t expect anything different. Four equal nations when it suits.

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