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Wales needs to be ‘reinvented’ says Professor Laura McAllister

23 Nov 2023 4 minute read
Laura McAllister (Pic by John Smith/FAW)

Martin Shipton

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.

Confidence

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.”

Politics

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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Sarah Good
Sarah Good
3 months ago

I love Laura McAllister. One of the cleverest and most influential people in Wales. She has earned every one of her plaudits so far as I can tell. This is a better defined version of the Cymru I dream of. And it is achievable where there is a will. Unfortunately people are people and abandon old habits unwillingly and with difficulty. How do you bring the people along on this road to improvement. It’s EASY to drag people down to the bottom. Scapegoat. Provide easily definable visible enemies and blame them for everything. Use lots of Three Word Slogans. It… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Sarah Good
Andrew
Andrew
3 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

As always a really good and intelligent article by Laura McAllister. If only our elected politicians could step outside of their petty party politics and really start to deliver a road map to a better Wales. yes we are hampered by Westminster but the WG has to do better with the tools it already has. A start would be scrapping the closed list and brining in full PR. We need more people engaged in Welsh politics not less. An expanded Senedd (which I fully support) with a closed list system will switch people off and further reinforce the belief that… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

I’ve said this before. President Professor Laura McAllister of the Welsh Republic. We need that and her NOW!

Annibendod
Annibendod
3 months ago

Wholeheartedly agree with the comments above. I have a lot of time for Prof McAllister. I’d very much appreciate a link to her lecture when available.

hdavies15
hdavies15
3 months ago

Reinvented, re-engineered, call it what you will the major task will be injecting a bit of interest, even self interest into our politics. The indifference of the electorate right now is alarming. The only people showing a degree of self interest are politicians and those who seek to influence them. Not a good mix, yet there are stacks of reasons for getting interested. Getting over 80% of electorate out to vote regularly would be a great leap forward as it could change the shape of representative politics beyond recognition especially if coupled with NO closed lists ( bad and cynical… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
2 months ago

I have been quiet in this comment section over the proposed ‘Closed List’ system preferring to listen to the debate involving the views of you great fellow contributors enabling me to gain a better understanding of it and trying to weigh up pros and cons where possible but I’ll say now that if Prof Laura thinks it’s a bad idea, then it is.

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