Welsh Gov’s new Constitutional Commission ‘full of separatists’ who will ‘push indy by the back door’ claims Tory MS
The Welsh Government’s new Constitutional Commission is “full of separatists” who would bring in “independence via the back door” according to a Conservative Senedd member.
It was announced yesterday that former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood would be part of the commission. It also includes former Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams and Lauren McEvatt, a former Conservative UK Government special adviser to the Wales Office.
However, Brecon & Radnorshire Senedd Member James Evans dismissed the commission, saying that he already knew what the outcome of its deliberations would be.
“This new commission is packed with separatists and those who would tear apart our United Kingdom,” he said.
“It appears, the outcome is pre-determined. With many of the same old names, pushing their same old tired agenda. This is independence via the back door.”
Last month, Professor Laura McAllister and Dr Rowan Williams were confirmed as the co-chairs of the commission, which was one of the key promises of Labour’s Senedd manifesto.
Professor McAllister has said that all options would be in the table – including independence. She said they would be thinking “boldly and radically about all potential options for the future of Wales, in the context of the increasing pressure on the Union.”
Mick Antoniw, the Welsh Government’s Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, said: “Each commissioner brings with them different strengths, knowledge, experience and perspectives. They are drawn from across Wales, across the UK, and further afield and from across the political spectrum.
“Collectively, the commissioners combine the academic rigour and the alternative perspectives the commission will need to think creatively and radically about Wales’ future.
“I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to engage with the commission and join the national conversation about our constitutional future.”
The commissioners, who will be working with the co-chairs, are:
- Dr Anwen Elias, a Reader in Politics at Aberystwyth University. Her research interests include comparative territorial and constitutional politics, political parties and deliberative democracy. She is co-director of the Centre for Welsh Politics and Society and the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Data and Research.
- Miguela Gonzalez, a diversity and inclusion practitioner and a former journalist. She worked for the BBC for 15 years, most recently as the diversity and inclusion lead for the nations. She currently works for life science firm Abcam, where she is working to build an open and inclusive culture. Miguela has worked with the Welsh Government on the implementation of the Culture Connect Cymru project and has also been a visiting lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture.
- Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London and Director of the UCL Institute of Health Equity. Professor Marmot has led research groups on health inequalities for over 40 years. He chaired the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health, several WHO Regional Commissions, and reviews on tacking health inequality for governments in the UK.
- Lauren McEvatt, a former Conservative UK Government special adviser to the Wales Office, during the coalition administration, when she worked on the Silk Commission and the Wales Act 2014. She has subsequently worked for several governments across East Africa and the Caribbean, on constitutional reform, trade and investment.
- Albert Owen, the former Labour MP for Ynys Mon from 2001 to 2019. During his time in Parliament he was a member of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, Welsh Affairs Select Committee and the International Development Committee.
- Philip Rycroft, who was a civil servant for 30 years. He worked at a senior level for the devolved government in Scotland before moving to the Cabinet Office in London where he led civil service work for the UK Government on the constitution and devolution. His last posting was as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU.
- Shavanah Taj, Wales TUC’s first BME General Secretary. Shavanah is a passionate campaigner and can often be found contributing speeches at round table debates and protest marches on issues such as anti-racism, just transition, climate change, human rights, women’s rights, fair pay and fair work.
- Kirsty Williams, a former Member of the Senedd and Minister for Education in the Welsh Government during the Fifth Senedd. She became the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats in December 2008 and, at the time, she was the first female leader of a Welsh political party in the Senedd.
- Leanne Wood, a former Member of the Senedd for the Rhondda and former Leader of Plaid Cymru. She was the first female leader of her party, and has a longstanding commitment to issues of social justice.
Commenting on the appointments, current Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said: “I am delighted to see such a range of well-respected and extremely qualified individuals appointed to this panel. All of those appointed will bring a range of valid views and have my utmost confidence to lead the conversation on our constitutional future.
“Our democracy in Wales continues to evolve and the need for this Commission has never been clearer. Changing attitudes within the Welsh population have shown continuous growth in those who wish to see more powers lie within Wales.
“It is reassuring to see some strong liberal voices on this panel that I know will argue for the fairest settlement for Wales and we continue on the next step of our democratic story.”
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