Wales needs to be ‘reinvented’ says Professor Laura McAllister
Wales needs to be “reinvented” with the help of constitutional change, one of the nation’s leading politics academics has argued.
This was one of Professor Laura McAllister’s key messages as she delivered the annual lecture of the Welsh Political Archive of the National Library of Wales at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture.
In her lecture titled Reason Not Rancour: A route to a better Wales, Prof McAllister gave an analysis of contemporary Wales and the urgent need for constructive change, offering ideas on creating a new contract between the people and the state.
Prof McAllister, who is Professor of Public Policy and the Governance of Wales at Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre is co-chair of the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales with Dr Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.
In her closing summary, Prof McAllister said: “Tonight, I’ve offered my broadest possible analysis of leadership; arguing for a posture of confidence as we try and tackle the challenges facing Cymru. I’ve called for nothing less than the reinvention of Wales based on the belief that we should shift our mindset.
“I would respectfully offer up our impending Independent Commission report as a blueprint to
help frame the political and constitutional change necessary for the other improvements we need. Because constitutional change is part of the tool kit for a better Wales, not a self- indulgent project.
“There is a route to creating a more politically literate citizenship within the new fit for purpose and more autonomous Welsh political system that they deserve. In it, people have far more voice and agency and they take part, not just in elections but in civic life more generally and taking on public and community roles – whatever they are – is normalised and expected.
“All of this would be embedded in an open culture of scrutiny and accountability where there are no favourites, no monoliths politically, culturally or economically, one where pluralism and diversity in every sense including cognitive is celebrated, and there is a healthy and voluntary turnover of leaders and representatives.”
“And I hope that tonight’s lecture has summed up the direction of travel we need to the next
stage where I want us to be as a nation – and that is a globally mainstream Wales, freed from its trepidations and timidity, a confident, equal, prosperous Wales.”
Prof McAllister’s research focuses on Welsh politics and elections, devolution, electoral reform, and gender in politics. A former captain of Wales’ women’s football team, she was recently elected as UEFA Vice President and a member of the body’s executive committee.
Prof McAllister also chaired the Independent Expert Panel which recommended an increase in the number of Senedd Members, a gender-balanced Senedd and a change in the voting system in Senedd elections. She does not, however, support the Welsh Government’s controversial “closed list” electoral system, which it has been argued gives more power to political parties and less to voters in terms of who is elected to the Senedd.
Rob Phillips, who curates the Welsh Political Archive at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth, said: “We are very proud to be able to welcome Prof Laura McAllister to deliver this year’s lecture at such an interesting time in Welsh politics. The lecture is the pinnacle of the Political Archive’s calendar and especially this year as part of the Archive’s 40th anniversary celebrations.
“The lecture is an opportunity to look forward to future developments while we celebrate the great political collections in the Library which preserve the history of Welsh politics for the benefit of the people.”
The full text of Prof McAllister’s lecture will be available on the National Library of Wales’ website.
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