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Westminster seen as ‘increasingly Anglocentric’ says Labour Senedd member

14 Jan 2021 4 minute read
Westminster at sunset

Westminster is seen as “increasingly Anglocentric” in Wales according to a Labour Senedd member.

Mick Antoniw MS wrote on LabourList that the growth of YesCymru, which now has a membership of 17,000, is evidence that more people are struggling to identify with the “London-based institution”.

The Member of the Senedd for Pontypridd has co-authored a report called Radical Federalism, which calls for “decentralisation of power” and for the UK to be “a voluntary union of nations.”

He hit out at the Tory government in Westminster for “clawing back devolved powers” through the Internal Market Act and for creating “acrimonious dissatisfaction and dissent, which could lead to the eventual break-up of the UK.”

Mr Antoniw also bemoaned the “absence of a clear Labour strategy for reform” and criticised what he called the “outdated separatist model of independence.”

He said: “In Wales, the growth of Yes Cymru is evidence that increasing numbers of people see Westminster and the Union as an increasingly Anglocentric, London-based institution with which they struggle to identify.

“The recent announcement by Labour leader Keir Starmer of the establishment of a constitutional convention for the whole of the UK is momentous.

“It represents a growing recognition that our existing structures are failing and that radical reform is now essential.

“Brexit has catalysed the urgency for reform. As with the Hans Christian Andersen story of The Emperor’s New Clothes, leaving the constitutional umbrella of the European Union has suddenly exposed the nakedly dysfunctional nature of our governance for all the world to see.

“With a centralist Tory government in Westminster, clawing back devolved powers through the Internal Market Act and now the EU (Future Relations) Act, the scene is set for increasingly acrimonious dissatisfaction and dissent, which could lead to the eventual break-up of the UK.

“With Scottish opinion increasingly embracing independence, English regions demanding greater regional autonomy, Northern Ireland moving closer to economic union with Ireland and growing calls for independence in Wales, it is now time for a new progressive agenda.

“For too long, this debate has been channelled by political parties and groups through the myopic parameters of either an outdated separatist model of independence or an increasingly hardline British Unionism.”


‘New agenda’ 

He added: “First Minister and Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford will today give an introduction to a report published by an independent group of Labour members and civic activists proposing a new agenda, a ‘radical federalism’.

“At the heart of the report lies a frustration with the narrowness of the current choices and options for reform and the absence of a clear Labour strategy for reform.

“Decentralisation of power is at the core of the paper, together with the empowerment of people and communities over the decision-making processes that affect our lives.

“This isn’t a new philosophy. Aneurin Bevan, architect of our NHS, wrote many decades ago that the purpose of securing power was to give it away. Devolution has contributed to this process in Wales and Scotland but has now reached the limits of its useful purpose.

“Merely creating parliaments in Scotland, Wales and England as mirror image versions of Westminster will not in the future deliver the scale of empowerment we all want to see without the continuance of strategic decentralisation and an expansive role for local government.

“The structure of the UK would be based on a voluntary union of nations with subsidiarity at the core, so that a reformed federal UK would only carry out those strategic tasks that could not be best performed at a more local level.”

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