Gareth Ceidiog Hughes
The raison d’être of Abolish the Assembly is rooted in the premise that the people of Wales are incapable of running their own affairs and should, therefore, be told what to do by a distant elite in the Westminster establishment who have no understanding of our country.
They believe that the people of Wales are far too dumb to elect governments that represent their best interests. Their mission is extraordinarily anti-democratic. It is in short, to abolish Welsh democracy. To grab power out of the hands of the people of Wales and give it back to Westminster.
In Gareth Bennett, it now has its first Member of the Senedd. This underscores the anti-democratic nature of the party. Nobody even voted for him. They voted for UKIP and he got in as their representative on the regional list. To say that I am no great fan of that party would be somewhat of an understatement, but at least it had a democratic mandate.
Bennett was not elected as a constituency MS and therefore he cannot claim to have any sort of personal mandate to switch parties. But there we go – it is not altogether surprising that someone who does not believe in Welsh democracy would behave in such an undemocratic fashion.
According to Bennett Welsh democracy is “is an overpriced, unnecessary tier of politicians”. This is absolute nonsense. The Senedd is a bargain and comparatively costs very little.
If you want to see an overpriced tier of government then I would look no further than Westminster. One 50th of the price of Welsh democracy was recently spent by the UK Government on repainting a plane – an expense that those who grumble about the Senedd’s ‘waste’ naturally cheered on.
Remember the expenses scandal? The MP who claimed expenses on fixing his moat? The Westminster establishment doesn’t mind blowing taxpayers’ cash on things like that. Yet it had to be bounced into feeding starving children by a professional footballer.
What those who complain about the waste of money on the Senedd really dislike is the Welsh having a say in running their own affairs. They don’t mind endless expense on other things. Complaining about money is just a cover for a dislike of Wales having a say and all the values our nation represents.
Although they style themselves as an ‘anti-establishment’ party, all Abolish the Assembly really want to do is give power straight back to the Westminster elite.
This is a Parliament that still has hereditary peers. That means aristos can have a right to shape the laws of the UK because of something as arbitrary as their bloodline. Some of the seats in the House of Lords are reserved for bishops, which makes the UK the world’s only country, other than Iran, in which religious leaders have an automatic right to shape our laws. It’s ridiculous.
For hundreds of years, many of its ermine-clad members have also owed their seats to the fact that they have made lavish political donations. It is both an affront to democracy and a massive waste of taxpayers’ cash. There have been reports of its members turning up to claim the expenses and then swanning off without doing any work.
The Senedd may not be perfect. Democracy in Wales has a long way to go. But compared to that cesspit it’s an oasis.
The irony, of course, is that many of the same people associated with Abolish the Assembly were a key part of the pro-Brexit campaign.
If those that want to abolish the Senedd really wanted to bring down the elite, save money and put power back into the hands of the people – ‘take back control – they would aim their fire at Westminster, not Wales.
Now they’re campaigning to bolster the elite, fritter more of Wales’ money at Westminster, and take power our of our hands.
Just a few months ago they were going on about respecting the will of the Welsh people. Now they want to overturn it.
We have had two referenda on Welsh autonomy in the last 20 years, the last of which in 2011 was won with a very healthy margin of 64% for – much more than Brexit ever managed.
They lost. Why are they not getting over it? I don’t understand.
Abolish the Assembly is another attempt to drag Wales back into a past that no longer exists, where it was a peripheral and voiceless part of the union. It’s no surprise that the Abolish the Assembly party haven’t even changed their outdated name.
There is no such thing as an Assembly in Wales anymore. We now have Senedd Cymru, the Welsh Parliament. This means our legislature now has a status that is commensurate to its power. It is a vote of confidence in the people of Wales.
To vote for Abolish the Assembly is the opposite. It is a vote against Welsh democracy. It is a vote against the people of Wales.
And that’s all Abolish the Assembly is – an inferiority complex masquerading as a political party. It is a veritable smorgasbord of insecurity, absurdity and contradictions.
It is an admission that they do not believe in the people of Wales. It is a belief in subservience over empowerment, a belief in inferiority over pride.
Wales has voted in favour of empowerment and pride in two referendums. It has grown as a nation, in both confidence and in political power.
And at next year’s Senedd election Wales will take another step forward – and relegate Abolish the Assembly, not our own nation, to the dustbin of history.