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Opinion

For Welsh Labour, see UK Labour

13 Jun 2024 4 minute read
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer launches his party’s manifesto at Co-op HQ in Manchester, while on the General Election campaign trail. Photo Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Ben Wildsmith

The manifesto published by Labour on Thursday mentions Wales twenty times in its 135 pages.

The majority of these are ‘England & Wales’, or ‘Scotland, Northern Ireland & Wales’ general references with the rest confined to the Wales-specific section reproduced below.

Welsh devolution and the Wales Office Wales has been failed by a chaotic and divisive Conservative Government that does not understand the ambitions of the Welsh people and refuses to work with the Welsh Government to achieve them.

Labour will serve Wales with a plan that matches those ambitions. We will strengthen the relationship between the governments in Westminster and Cardiff Bay. The two governments will work collaboratively to deliver Labour’s national missions. Labour recognises that the Welsh Fiscal Framework is out of date.

We are committed to working in partnership with the Welsh Government to ensure the framework delivers value for money with two Labour governments committed to fiscal responsibility. Labour recognises the value of integrated public services, which are more efficient and create better outcomes.

As part of the strategic review into probation, we will explore the devolution of services to enable them to be more locally responsive. We will work with the Welsh Labour Government to consider devolution of youth justice.

In line with our commitment to devolve employment support in England, Labour will devolve employment support funding to the Welsh Government.

Welsh culture, products and services are renowned around the world – from the thriving tourism sector and highest-quality steel to Welsh Lamb and semi-conductors. Labour will harness the UK’s diplomatic and trade networks, working with the Welsh Government to champion Wales across the world.

With Labour, the Wales Office will once again become an advocate for Wales at home and abroad and facilitate closer collaboration between our governments. The Wales Office will ensure on issues under the competence of the UK Government the voice of Wales is properly heard.

Vague

In fairness to Labour, this vague offering is of a piece with the rest of its manifesto which, above all, seems crafted to reassure rather than inspire.

There is recognition that the Welsh Fiscal Framework is ‘out of date’ but this is swiftly followed by a commitment to ‘value for money’ and ‘fiscal responsibility’.

If Labour had intentions of redesignating Welsh investment in HS2, or devolving administration of the Crown Estates you can be sure it would be in included here, so forget about that.

There are minor devolutionary ambitions for probation and youth justice. These two areas are wholly contingent on non-devolved economic and social policy, so a cynic might conclude that what’s being devolved here is blame.

The wider picture is hinted at by the statement that, ‘The two governments will work collaboratively to deliver Labour’s national missions.’ These ‘national missions’ are also mentioned in the section devoted to Scotland, so we can assume that the nation in question is the UK, rather than Wales.

Substantive change

This suggests a substantive change in the workings of devolution, as might be expected when the same party is in charge of both institutions.

With the Conservatives in power at Westminster, the UK Labour Party benefited politically from Welsh Government policy diverging from UK norms. If policies worked well, it was proof that progressive Labour government delivered, if they failed, the Tory government could safely be blamed on grounds of national underfunding.

After July 4th, the Welsh Government is to be harnessed in service of a UK-wide programme which has been mandated by many traditionally Conservative areas of England. How that can be married to the socio-economic concerns of Wales is unclear.

When Rhodri Morgan stood up to the Blair government at the turn of the Millennium, it defined Welsh democracy as a distinct, radical force that aspires to self-determination and meaningful influence on UK policy.

Authority

There is no Labour figure in Wales today who carries the authority or goodwill that was enjoyed by Morgan. Nothing emanating from its leadership in the Senedd suggests that it has any appetite for challenging the UK party one iota.

Plaid Cymru’s own manifesto, which was also launched today, casts a canny eye over the landscape that will emerge after the election.

If Labour in Westminster discounts the singularity of Welsh concerns whilst, at home, its leadership continues to lose the trust of the people, then the conditions that saw the SNP usurp Labour in Scotland for a generation may emerge here.


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Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago

“the conditions that saw the SNP usurp Labour in Scotland for a generation may emerge here.”

Polls suggest that may already be underway.

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago
Reply to  Annibendod

Beeb reporting that Labour will not be giving the Senedd full power over structural funding with Jo Stevens sent out as chief apologist for this shameful decision. Once again the Westminster consensus conspires to withold Cymru’s political agency. How dare they! It’s not theirs to withold. We give our labour in return for lower average wages than the roUK, chronic poverty and our political emasculation. Damn it!

Vote Plaid Cymru!

j91968
j91968
29 days ago
Reply to  Annibendod

Didn’t lead to Scottish Independence though, did it? I hope you are a patient man. Anyone got any idea how often the SNP mentions “independence” in its 2024 manifesto?

Annibendod
Annibendod
29 days ago
Reply to  j91968

That process is not yet finished so your comment is a little premature. The old corpse is still twitching but the moribund UK’s time is over.

j91968
j91968
28 days ago
Reply to  Annibendod

Your boy was very quiet on the topic of demanding another referendum this morning. It isn’t in the PC manifesto, it would seem, not in so many words, it’s more “implied”.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Oh! Bugger!

Yolk(ed) in servitude, enslaved, enthralled, joined at the shoulders by a rod of Iron, wood or law…

Roger Water’s territory…

Last edited 1 month ago by Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

The more you look at the image the less real it becomes, the sloppy stage craft, the ludicrous lectern, cheep, tacky and fleeting, is that the message…

(no disrespect Andrew)

j91968
j91968
29 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

No letters fell off, though, did they? And what would be the virtue in splashing out more on such a temporary stage set. Lugging around monolithic tablets didn’t get Ed Miliband very far, and Liz Truss was mocked stiff for her Twisted Sister lectern.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago
Reply to  j91968

I could do better with the rubbish off the tide line, making a tidy job is not splashing out…what a pile of…

j91968
j91968
29 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Oh well, off you go then. Join a party and offer to design and build its stage set for the GE manifesto launch in 2029. Or better yet, start your own party, then you can do everything yourself and congratulate yourself afterwards. Don’t forget to cater for the press corps – they appreciate a bacon butty and some coffee to keep them going until lunch. The Tories only offered a vaccum jug labelled coffee with just hot water in it this week.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
1 month ago

Welsh Labour commissioned the Commission on Wales’ Constitutional Future – to get public opinion about what we want for our nation, yet the UK Labour party have clearly rejected its recommendations.

I’m incredulous that the Welsh branch of Labour are so quiet on this? Let’s hear some raised voices please, Welsh Labour.

Elaine
Elaine
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

I thought Gething used a strange word – reintegrate – in relation to Waters and Blythyn return to the Senedd during FMQs on Tuesday. It leaves me wondering what discussions are going on behind the scenes.
Regardless of what happens with them, the stalemate will continue until either Gething goes or the 3 party resolve fades.
I know Jeremy Miles’ politics is very similar to Gething but I suspect he has slightly more potential to be a thorn in Starmer’s side. Wishful thinking probably.
We really do need a Plaid government installed in 2026.

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

I think any hope we had about implementing any of the recommendations of the commission, evaporated the day Mark Drakeford retired, as soon as he went, there was talk of all sorts of ” reversal ” of policies, and now we have a leader who is a London “plant” seemingly very close to Starmer.

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

I don’t think he’s a plant. He was on the Yes campaign in ’97. Been around in one way or another since then. What he is, is an ambitious party man through and through. He ‘s a product of his circumstances really. Hefin David is of the same ilk. Arrogantly presumptive of his electoral base, fiercely protective of the structures that put him there and a puffed up ego on account of his being there, disdainful of those of us who fight for Welsh Democracy. But there were Labour men and women like that in Wales going back decades.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
1 month ago

In the Western Mail, there was a report that Yvette Cooper had declared there would be no devolution of police to Wales. She is not Welsh, she does not live in Wales, she doesn’t represent a Welsh seat – what gives her the right to say that to our country? Where is the condemnation from our own politicians? Where are the voices for us? Where is the defence of the recommendations of the Commission for the Constitutional Future of Wales? Where is democracy?

Last edited 1 month ago by Mr Williams
Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

Welsh Labour (if such a thing exists other than a brand in the Gething era) are far too supine to oppose UK Labour’s imperialist impulses.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

I didn’t see the article in the Western Mail but I did see the same report on the Biased Broadcasting Conservatives website. It made up my mind which way I’ll be voting. I live in the Mid and South Pembrokeshire constituency where we have a stark choice between the Conservative candidate (Stephen Crabb) and the Labour candidate (Henry Tufnell – parachuted in from merry old Ingerland). Given Tufnell’s background (his family own a large farming estate in England and before being selected for Mid and South Pembrokeshire he tried to get himself selected for Colchester in Essex, his only connection… Read more »

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

Welsh Labour MP’s do nothin g for Wales. Silence on Crown Estates, the Great Train robbery, the theft of Welsh energy and so on. Waste of space. Vote Plaid

robin campbell
robin campbell
28 days ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

So long as we continue to be servile she can do what she likes

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago

We should all be looking at what follows Labour. Farage’s English Nationalists have slipped into second place in the latest poll. The escape route for Wales is to replace Labour votes with Plaid Cymru votes. Otherwise you can all welcome Nigel Farage as Prime Minister in 5 years time.

Vote Plaid Cymru.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Annibendod

If the Labour promises don’t materialise then the Senedd Elections in 2026 should be an opportunity for Plaid to stick it deep into Labour. However does it have the capacity and appetite to really do the job ? Or will those politicians prefer the well paid lower stress option of “tame opposition” ?

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Well one thing we could do with is more members and activists. We all need to put our shoulder to this wheel.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

You have of course hit the nail firmly on the head. During the first Assembly term Plaid Cymru acted as an opposition, members committed to the devolution ideal and indeed with an eye on the future. That has gone. The coup against Dafydd Wigley by over ambitious amateurs led to IWJ’s weak leadership, then poor results in the second election. What followed was the slippery slope. IWJ couldn’t get into bed with Labour fast enough, and in so doing drove away countless members and supporters, then Leanne Wood’s nineteenth century mindset and Adam Price as Deputy FM in all but… Read more »

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

That is in the past.

Rhun ap Iorwerth is now leader of Plaid Cymru.

We are back on course. Are you on board ?

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
1 month ago

Thank you for your comment.
You are of course correct – that is in the past, but we have to judge people and activities by their past actions – and that’s the point.
If the Labour group had not elected a questionable leader, the cosy little relationship between them and Plaid Cymru would undoubtedly have continued. If Gethin goes, as he surely must, I suspect that the love fest will return.

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

A fair point John but those of us who share much of your thoughts on this feel that the lesson has perhaps now been leant.?

Your role as the John the Baptist – warni ng Plaid about the dangers of becoming the Welsh tail of the Labour British Bull Dog is far more widly accepted .across our nation.

Maen amser i dod adre nawr John

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
29 days ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Your assumption seems to be that successful politics must be adversarial and any kind of cooperation in areas of mutual interest is a “cosy little lovefest”. But all that adversarial politics actually gives us is destruction, mediocrity and misery which is why it’s so popular in the Anglo Saxon communities. If people aren’t in politics to make things better, why are they in politics.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
29 days ago
Reply to  Ron Puma

I thought this story had run its course, but a reply is needed to Ron Puma. I am most certainly not suggesting that politics has to be adversarial. The issue with Plaid Cymru is two fold. As a party in opposition its very duty is to act as a check on the ruling party and to question as appropriate. this not adversarial; it’s how democracy works. My issue with the party is that it simply has not acted as it should in opposition and allowed the controlling party – “Welsh” Labour – a totally free run. For the democratic process,… Read more »

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
29 days ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

But what does that mean in practice. If an opposition party is simply opposing everything for opposition’s sake that’s being adversarial. If that means stuff they do actually support – and could be improved with their help – doesn’t happen because the support isn’t there, how’s that helping their constituents?

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
28 days ago
Reply to  Ron Puma

You seem not to understand the simple process of pluralist democracy. Te opposition provides checks and balances, analysing and questioning decisions and holding the government to account. This does not mean that it has to be adversarial, in a sensible democracy (that leaves Westminster out) the opposition will amend and/or support measures proposed by government as appropriate and in a responsible way. In many small European states the pluralist systems works because those involved in the democratic process both respect others views and accept their joint responsibility to act in the best interests of their community. Perhaps your view has… Read more »

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
28 days ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

The Welsh Conservatives are the official opposition. Why shouldn’t PC “support measures proposed by government as appropriate and in a responsible way” that you seem to be so opposed to.

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago

This is the point. Utterly pointless bearing grudges and sniping from the sidelines. Get in the party and fight like hell.

robin campbell
robin campbell
28 days ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Hello John – I’ve been out canvassing most nights and have found that many people do not trust either Tory or Labour. There is an appetite for Plaid but people have to get out there on the doorstep.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
28 days ago
Reply to  robin campbell

Then I wish you much luck!

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
28 days ago
Reply to  robin campbell

Robin – this then is surely the challenge. If there is serious questioning of the failing UK two party system and a real appetite for change, then Plaid Cymru and its leadership have got to grasp the opportunity.

Nia James
Nia James
1 month ago

Except for those who have been parachuted in, Welsh Labour are terrified of their London masters. There should have been a united front shooting down Yvette Cooper’s statement, but they are like little puppies in a basket. We can expect to see a hell of a lot more talking down to us from Westminster if Labour win the General Election. As I have been saying for some time, the months and years ahead will be difficult and painful for Wales (and for those who believe in Welsh nationhood).

Adrian
Adrian
1 month ago

After decades of devolution, and a Labour government, Wales is now the worst performing region in the UK by most metrics: education, the NHS, policing and child poverty to name a few. The same model will soon be applied nationally so strap yourselves in. If that doesn’t bother you, consider this: in 2022 the new Welsh RSE curriculum, largely written by trans activist group, Stonewall, was implemented: it makes not one mention of the words man, woman, boy or girl. Since then, your children are being taught in school that they have inner ‘self’ – like a soul or a… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Adrian
Ian
Ian
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian

Complete and utter b******s, mate, on RSE and conversion therapy.
‘Conversion therapy’, from the link you provide, is ‘an umbrella term to describe harmful interventions of a wide-ranging nature.’
You talk about a-scientific claptrap, well, conversion therapy absolutely is that.

What sort of conversations are you having with children that it would be considered harmful?

Adrian
Adrian
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian

I don’t know what you’re reading but gender identity is ubiquitous in the curriculum and clearly set out in the policy. Maybe you’re OK with that, and if you wish to believe in scientifically-baseless, quasi-religious hypotheses that’s up to you. Personally, I’d rather policy doesn’t get formed on the basis of fairy tales.

Last edited 1 month ago by Adrian
Rhosddu
Rhosddu
29 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

You’re aware, surely, that Wales is not a ‘”region” any more than England and Scotland are. Perhaps you made a typo…

Adrian
Adrian
29 days ago
Reply to  Rhosddu

So what do you think Wales is then?

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
29 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

This is nonsense. Policing isn’t devolved. Child poverty since covid is far worse in England. Education – we’ve no idea how Wales is performing compared to most of the UK because England doesn’t release regional PISA data. Health – Northern Ireland has five and a half year waiting lists.

Adrian
Adrian
29 days ago
Reply to  Ron Puma

Haha – yeah, everything’s going swimmingly because somewhere, some things are worse!

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
28 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

You wrote “Wales is now the worst performing region in the UK” yet don’t seem to care if it’s actually worse elsewhere in the UK? What’s your game exactly?

Last edited 28 days ago by Ron Puma
David Thomas
David Thomas
1 month ago

It is quite clear from this manifesto, and from every comment by Yvette Cooper, that Labour is no longer committed to devolution, or, if they use the word, they actually mean de-centralisation. Henceforth, decisions will be made at Labour HQ in Millbank, and the so-called “devolved administrations” will simply be tasked with implementing these decisions. Labour poses a clear and imminent threat to Welsh devolution – and Welsh democracy.

Adrian
Adrian
1 month ago
Reply to  David Thomas

Welsh Labour has amply demonstrated that it’s interested only in a veneer of democracy. Try asking your MS a question they don’t like: you’ll get a reply from a department – no name – that simply cites boiler plate policy announcements. The secretiveness of their activities has recently been thrown into the spot light with the sacking of Blythin. Then of course we have Gething, who makes Boris Johnson look scrupulous.

Ron Puma
Ron Puma
28 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

You’re inventing your own definition of democracy. And scruples.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

What do they look like ?

Clark of Kent looks like a kitsch Mr Whippy from the Andrew Logan King of Kitsch Museum of Sculpture in Berriew…

Nice place Berriew

RIP Roland

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Come the fifth of July he will need a Mr Whippy ice cream cone in his raised fist…

Just like the Lady of Liberty in New York Harbour…

Give me your tired, your poor.

Your huddle masses yearning to breath free…

We can all get behind that…

Try a little imagination 1968, you should have been there…

j91968
j91968
28 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Where? On the Hudson River? When? 1876?

Your imagination is your business, you can wander around in your own head as much as you like if it works for you. I think I try to remain a little more tethered to this time and place, during this GE, you know, NOW. That isn’t for lack of imagination, that’s just trying to maintain a smidgen of pragmatic realism, and a judicious dose of healthy scepticism.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
28 days ago
Reply to  j91968

You do realise that Ben is a sketch writer, do you know what that means…?

j91968
j91968
27 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

He is an opinion column writer, not a sketch writer. Sometimes his approach employs whimsy, and a sense of the absurd, and sometimes it most emphatically does not. But I have noticed the readers’ comments in this area follow the same themes and use the same tones of voice irrespective of the mood Ben Wildsmith sets. Humour isn’t much in evidence, confirmation bias and deluded thinking, however, run rife unchecked.

Enjoy your incessant axe-grinding for the next two and half weeks. I’ll pop back here on the 5/6 July and see how confident you are feeling then.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
27 days ago
Reply to  j91968

About what?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
27 days ago
Reply to  j91968

You have not been watching, I live in a county that has been Plaid for 50 years, (we won’t mention Lord Porthmadog the vote stealer). But then again you’re not from round here…

j91968
j91968
26 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I have never mentioned where I live, but suffice to say I have been registered to vote in Wales for almost a quarter century and have paid local taxes in Wales for even longer. I don’t know where you live either, as I attach no importance to that. The fact that you think it matters says far more about you than it does about anyone else.

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