Keir Starmer ‘doesn’t seem persuaded by our polite arguments’ says Welsh minister
A Welsh Government minister has suggested that Keir Starmer “doesn’t seem to be persuaded by our polite arguments” on the future of the UK.
Lee Waters, the Deputy Minister for Climate Change, has argued that the Senedd “needs to be bigger, and more powerful” during the Tudor Watkins Memorial Lecture, which was delivered to the Brecon Labour Party.
Starmer, Labour’s leader in Westminster has committed to holding a Constitutional Convention if the party is ever able to form a UK Government.
But Waters criticised him for emphasising local services in speeches and in his writing instead of “creating a stable constitutional framework for the UK”.
He also said all parts of the UK “deserve equal treatment and respect”, but it “doesn’t feel like that” is the case “at the moment”.
Waters said: “The debate that Tudor Watkins was a part of was ‘should Welshness be expressed in political institutions?’. It proved a contentious question in the Labour movement for decades. It is now settled. We have a Senedd, a Welsh Parliament with law making and tax raising powers.
“The current debate is whether it needs to be bigger, and more powerful, and more plural in the way it chooses our representatives. And my answer to all those questions is Yes.
“But there remains a wider question, and it was this one that Keir Starmer was trying to address: What is the future of the UK?
“The Welsh voice has been a small one in this debate until now. I’m sure historians will judge it a mistake that former First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones was not listened to when he called for a Constitutional Convention to look at the way the UK was working a decade ago. It’s not too late, but it does feel like we haven’t got long.
He added: “Keir Stamer has committed a Labour Government to holding a Constitutional Convention, but the emphasis of his recent speeches and writing has been on giving people the power to change local services, like schools, not on creating a stable constitutional framework for the UK. Sadly, he doesn’t seem to be persuaded by our polite arguments yet. But there’s still time for that too.
“I do not myself think it is inevitable that Scotland will vote to leave the UK. I did like the slogan, but that was about all, of the campaign to defeat the independence question in 2014. I think we are ‘Better Together’.
“I like the idea of co-operation between the nations, and that this shared endeavour should have an institutional expression. A recognition that we are more than the sum of our parts. But all parts deserve equal treatment and respect.
“And it doesn’t feel like that at the moment. This is not currently a happy union.”