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Welsh minister fears Senedd could become ‘Birmingham County Council on stilts’

12 Oct 2021 3 minutes Read
The Senedd. Picture by Senedd Cymru.

A Welsh Government minister has said he fears the Senedd could become “a sort of Birmingham County Council on stilts”.

If Scotland becomes independent, Lee Waters, the Deputy Minister for Climate Change, believes Wales could get “stuck in a centre-right dominated Union of England and Wales” with a government in Westminster that is “intent on undermining devolution”.

The minister, who made the comments while giving the Tudor Watkins Memorial Lecture, which was delivered to the Brecon Labour Party, said in that scenario “we may not be far behind the Scots” in becoming independent.

He suggested a federal UK as way of stopping the union from breaking up and “as a way of balancing the forces of nationalism”.

Waters said: “But we can’t sidestep the growing force of nationalism. I don’t blame Keir Starmer for trying to reframe it as patriotism, but it doesn’t make the problem go away.

“We need to confront it, and offer a coherent way forward, or left unharnessed these forces will lead to the break-up of the UK and I don’t want that to happen. But if English nationalism is allowed to develop unchecked, and Scotland leaves the Union, Wales faces a very unhappy prospect.

“Without Scottish MPs it’s hard to see us winning a majority at Westminster, so we’d be stuck in a centre-right dominated Union of England and Wales, forever outside the EU, with marginal influence on a Government in London – a Government intent on undermining devolution.

“Jeremy Thorpe famously warned in the 70s that a Welsh Assembly could become a ‘sort of Glamorgan County Council on stilts’. I fear that in that kind of Little Britain it could become ‘a sort of Birmingham County Council on stilts’.

“In that scenario I fear we may not be far behind the Scots, and that’s not what I want to see.

‘Constitutional future’ 

“In Welsh Labour’s successful manifesto we promised to establish an independent, standing commission to consider the constitutional future of Wales.

“I have long favoured a strong form of Federalism as a way of bringing some coherence, and consistency, to the UK as a way of balancing the forces of nationalism.

“I fully appreciate it is not a panacea, and unless England is interested it is a non-starter, but I’m struggling to see other ways of holding the union together in the face of a UK Government acting in ways which make it harder and harder to sustain the case. And what’s worse is they know that, and don’t seem to care.

“They talk of ‘muscular unionism’, but it feels more like unionism on steroids – there’s the appearance of muscle, but as with the anabolic kind the side-effects are causing long-term damage to the rest of the body.

“What worries me is that Welsh Labour seems to be the only part of the body politic that is sounding the alarm – we are the canary in the cage.”

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Gareth
Gareth
11 days ago

Welsh Labour can sound as many alarms as it wants, they will be ignored now, and in the future, as they were in the past, by those over the border, because they don’t care. Indy for us is the only answer.

Grayham Jones
11 days ago

We in wales have got to stop being little Englanders and and be proud to be welsh start fighting for your children and grandchildren future in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 it’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 kick all English party’s out of wales that’s the Tories Labour and all Brexit party’s start fighting for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

David
David
11 days ago

Lee Waters ishio bod yn Sais!

Arwyn
Arwyn
11 days ago

The problem with Labour’s analysis is that the can’t even name what is driving the final unravelling of the UK. The Tories have moved beyond Unionism and are seeking to impose a British Nationalism on the historic nations of of this island. What we are trying to do by establishing sovereign states for our Nations is to win democratic and political self-determination for our peoples. The very opposite of the Tory agenda. Labour’s Unionism nearly always serves to reinforce Tory Nationalism over our country. Labour needs to think on precisely the consequences of its inadequate constitutional positions (they’re yet to… Read more »

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
10 days ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Sorry Arwyn but I have to take exception to ‘British Nationalism’ – ‘English Nationalism’ is a far more appropriate term.

Crwtyn Cemais
Crwtyn Cemais
11 days ago

Wrth gwrs, yn y frawddeg olaf, y ‘Body Politic’ y mae Lee yn ei gyfeirio ato yw’r Blaid Lafur Brydeinig…ond mae’n peth da i Gymru gyfan ei fod yn swnio’r larwm tan. ~ Of course, in the last sentence, the ‘Body Politic’ that Lee is referring to is the British Labour Party…but it’s a good thing for all of Wales that he he is sounding the fire alarm.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
11 days ago

We are already Birmingham’s water tank, so why not their political conduit on stilts too., he said sarcastically. Welsh Labour has to pull its finger out now and start actually fighting for Wales rather than saying one thing here and to the London-based media another. Also, no amount of emotive language by supporters of British Unionism in Wales, a Union I might add that’s never actually represented our country, will stop Scotland from becoming independent. It’s too late.. You used up all your lies & favours in 2014. And the only ones who have ever willingly damaged Wales, is not… Read more »

Last edited 11 days ago by Y Cymro
Maurice Whisk
Maurice Whisk
11 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

You never hear Birmingham residents resenting people from Wales using their world class hospitals.

You go on resenting water and see if it gets you independence.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
11 days ago
Reply to  Maurice Whisk

No, they are too busy drinking our water.

And you too would be resentful if like me had a someone like you laud the fact that their country usurped & benefit from our natural resources. Time the fiscal taps were reversed.

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
10 days ago
Reply to  Maurice Whisk

Fine, we shall see how Birmingham can survive without our water powering up its industries against our interests. Bit of a huge gap of a few people using Birmingham hospitals that our government pays for anyway through our taxes and Birmingham stealing hundreds of millions of pounds of water every single year. For Wales, that’s a terrible deal.

Vic
Vic
10 days ago
Reply to  Maurice Whisk

The hospitals are paid by Welsh Government for the services they provide to Welsh residents at prices that are reviewed regularly. The water supply to Birmingham is paid for at a price set when Thatcher gave away the English water companies in the 80’s and gives almost nothing back to the Welsh economy. Time for an export duty on the water and electricity. .

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
11 days ago

He is right to be concerned about the imminent departure of Scotland. However, it is what Wales needs to happen for the independence movement to receive a shot-in-arm and get us out of the Union quicker. The corrupt, unfair and neglectful Union is finally coming to an end.

Sion Cwilt
Sion Cwilt
10 days ago

Jeremy Thorpe was correct, the devolution on offer in 1979 was really a Glamorgan County Council on stilts. This is partly why it failed: it didn’t offer enough. The deal on offer in 1997 was essentially the same as that offered in 1979. It just scraped enough votes to pass, largely due to the changed circumstances after 18 years of Tory misrule, and a Labour Secretary of State in the Welsh Office who was genuinely enthusiastic. Basically the Assembly was a county council on stilts, with most of the politicians people who had cut their teeth in county councils across… Read more »

Julian Sortland
10 days ago

You need to work out how to stop a minority vote for Brexit nutters like David Jones getting them into power, because every man and his dog stands, and splits the progressive vote. Do these parties need to get together, and only stand one good candidate in each constituency?

Last edited 10 days ago by Julian Sortland
j humphrys
j humphrys
10 days ago

Seems the right way, yes JS.

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
10 days ago

All i’m hearing is “wah wah wah, my party is too cowardly to to gain more responsibility and I would rather have our invaders telling us what to do” Judas!.

George
George
10 days ago

“They talk of ‘muscular unionism’, but it feels more like unionism on steroids – there’s the appearance of muscle, but as with the anabolic kind the side-effects are causing long-term damage to the rest of the body.” That is a fantastic description of what’s going on. Welsh Labour’s vision of the UK is probably the best but they need to work out how long they keep advocating for it if they’re ignored each time and the long-term damage takes hold. 20 years of this sort of conservative government (10 years of that being anti-devolution in the worst way) would be… Read more »

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
10 days ago

Welsh Labour were even ignored by their own party while they were in power in Westminster. What chances are they can change the Tories minds? None at all. All this rubbish about a federal UK when their own party ignores their wants and needs will never ever happen. The English have always looked down on Wales and it shows in their media and their two faced nationalist politicians trying to eradicate our democracy and control our culture by replacing it with their made up right wing crap.

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