Our Parliament’s new name has annoyed all the right people – the Westminster elite’s boot lickers

The Senedd. Picture by Senedd Cymru.

Gareth Ceidiog Hughes

‘Welsh Assembly’ was always a terrible name for our democratic institution.

It is drab, uninspiring, and sounds like something you would attend at school. It is not a name that evokes status and grandeur, and I suspect that may well be the reason why it was picked in the first place. I didn’t really care at the time. I was just happy that Wales was getting its own democracy.

The Scottish Parliament has been known as such since its inception and this not only reflects that it had much more power at that time, but in the higher level of confidence the Scots had in having their own democracy.

The referendum to establish the institution formerly known as the Welsh Assembly was won by the narrowest of narrow margins. It had little power at its inception and was derided as a talking shop. The name reflected this. Perhaps an uninspiring name was necessary to get those sceptical about Welsh devolution on board. But that does not mean I have to like it.

Thankfully things have changed a great deal since the advent of devolution. A referendum on further powers was won handsomely in 2011 and the institution has gained powers over significant areas of legislation.

Like a teenager stuck in the clothes of a small child, the Welsh legislature stuck with a name that didn’t reflect its growth for many years.

This is no longer the case, and the institution is known as Welsh Parliament in English and Senedd Cymru in Welsh.

 

Power

When the name change was being debated, there was a bit of a row about whether the institution should have a dual language name or not. I happen to see it from both sides. I like the idea of it having a Welsh name and I will mostly refer to it as Senedd, and I fully expect a great many people to do the same. It accords with my desire to raise the status of the Welsh language, and with my view that it belongs to everyone in Wales, whether they speak it or not. But it was not a hill I was prepared to be gunned down upon, and I can also see some benefits to having a dual language name.

It could help with public understanding of the role of the institution in their lives. The word senedd, although very similar indeed to senate, is still relatively unfamiliar to many people in Wales.

People understand what parliament means now. It is a word that signifies an institution with status, an institution with legislative power. When half the Welsh electorate doesn’t know that health is devolved, this is not an insignificant factor. I am sympathetic to the argument that having a dual language name could aid with developing public understanding of the Senedd.

There is no doubt in my mind that the people of Wales can come to view the word Senedd and Parliament as having the same status. Putting those words side by side could well help the public understand that they are. From what I have seen thus far, even with the dual-language name, the institution seems to leading with the Senedd Cymru. The direction of travel does seem to be set towards having a fully Welsh language name in the future, and that is something that I am quite content with.

Undemocratic

One particularly pleasing aspect of using the word parliament to denote our legislature is that it has annoyed all of the right people. It has got right up the nose of those who want to destroy Welsh democracy, and would prefer we lick the boots of the Westminster establishment.

They are aghast that the people of Wales have the temerity to believe they are more than capable of making their own decisions. They know that it is harder to delegitimise a body with the status of a parliament than it is a mere assembly. Abolish the parliament has a decidedly undemocratic ring to it.

Well, they are just going to have to get over it I’m afraid. It won’t stop their anti-democratic campaign of course. But it will make it more awkward. Abolish the Assembly will have to change the name of their party if it is to make any sense.

Well ha bloody ha. Though, they don’t place a particularly high premium on making sense come to think of it.

I believe that we should be happy that we now have name that is commensurate to the institution’s power and status. It is a vote of confidence in Welsh democracy. It is a vote of confidence in the people of Wales and their ability to make their own decisions.

The previous name showed a lack of it. As confidence in our democracy grows, the power and status invested by the people of Wales in our legislature will grow even more.

Articles via Email

Get instant updates to your inbox

23
Leave a Reply

avatar
8 Comment threads
15 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
16 Comment authors
SibrydionmawrRob EvansPaulRhosdduLyn Thomas Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Plain citizen
Guest
Plain citizen

If the Welsh Parliament is to show independence and vigour and that it is not just a talking shop it must get tax raising powers. Firstly on all rates of income and corporation tax then others. I think VAT should be a UK matter because of the complications and opportunities for fraud that would arise (assuming Scotland and N. Ireland and England have the same tax raising powers) for cross border (within the UK) transactions. Wales must then stand on it’s own two feet and not look for subsidy from the rest of the UK. We can have proper tax… Read more »

Huw Davies
Guest
Huw Davies

Entirely agree. BUT we must insist on starting from a position of ‘fairness’, by this I mean that the inequalities which Wales has suffered over the years in funding due to the flaws of the Barnet Formula are compensated for, Wales MUST have control of it’s natural resources, and MUST be allowed to charge the going rare for their exploitation.

Plain citizen
Guest
Plain citizen

When you say control of natural resources what do you mean? If (say) water, it is a commodity that customers are willing to pay for. Have we got the courage to turn off the taps to Liverpool and Birmingham to get more money? What other resources fishing? Should we nationalise? Plenty of interesting questions arise. Should Wales higher rate income tax be more than now? Than Englands? Let’s discuss.

Huw Davies
Guest
Huw Davies

Who you ? Not me ! This confusion of identity is a bit of bother especially as I tend to value “identity” above all – me, community, nation, state – probably a few other things too like culture, language, common values etc. Anyway back to business. If you start demanding compensation for Barnett shortcomings or decades/centuries of colonialist exploitation by capitalists, rapists, robber barons etc then you are up a gumtree. You are placing unnecessary obstacles in the path of separation. Sure thing, get away from our alleged benefit from vanity projects like HS2 which will benefit only England, or… Read more »

Carol Loughlin
Guest
Carol Loughlin

The Welsh Parliament already has tax raising powers over income tax and a limited number of other taxes. For Wales to stand on its own two feet it needs to retain ALL taxes raised in Wales including things like VAT, fuel duty, business rates, etc. It is perfectly possible to have varying rates of VAT; you need only look at purchase tax differences across the American states.

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

Cytuno! It means, for instance, that the Senedd must legislate to retain tax raised from English enterprises operating in Cymru, and to end the system whereby such tax finds its way to the Westminster Treasury simply because those companies have their head office in England.

I’d be curious to know whether Scotland loses a proportion of its tax revenue in this way.

Plain citizen
Guest
Plain citizen

This is one of the problems of tax with international trade and transnational activities what would you do about Amazon etc?

Huw Davies
Guest
Huw Davies

I think we all know what should be done but getting a government with big cojones to take action seems to be beyond most countries right now. I use Amazon but feel very little affection for them. So if government Welsh or UK decided to whack a big tax on them I would not be inclined to protest.

Sibrydionmawr
Guest
Sibrydionmawr

I wish they would whack a huge tax on the likes of Amazon instead of basically giving them money, as that’s what has fundamentally happened in Swansea where the Welsh taxpayer basically paid for the road infrastructure to the ‘fullfillment centre’ where Welsh workers are exploited and overworked. I to use Amazon, but it’s very much a ‘retailer of last resort’ for me, though I do use the website to review books and discover the publisher and if the publisher sells directly, the publisher gets the business, otherwise I’ll order it from the local bookshop rather than order it from… Read more »

Rob
Guest
Rob

I believe Scotland keeps a certain percentage of VAT. What really is shameful as someone who flies regularly is that Air Passenger Duty has been devolved to both Scotland and Northern Ireland but not to Wales. And this is just to keep Bristol Airport happy.
The UK government is wearing 2 hats. One as a government for England, the other for the UK as a whole.

j humphrys
Guest
j humphrys

I think that Scandia and Germany, you are taxed on the “where you reside” basis. Any income from outside the country goes into the system via our city tax office.

Rob
Guest
Rob

Problem is people will still call it an Assembly for quite sometime. Even politicians like David Jones MP still often refer to it as the “Welsh Assembly Government” although I do wonder if that is deliberate.
I guess when people blame the whole institution for the failures of the executive goes back to the early 2000s before they were separated.
It takes a while for people to change their habits, especially when there is little Welsh media.

Wrexhamian
Guest
Wrexhamian

You’re almost certainly right; what individuals choose to call it will probably depend on which side of the fence (Welsh or ‘British’) they are on. Plus, we have to factor in the fact that the lack of a significant Welsh media means that some Welsh people will not even be aware of the recent name-change! It would be funny if it wasn’t so unacceptable.

Phil
Guest
Phil

I agree with all positive comments about the Welsh parliament .but until we achieve the same powers as Scotland we well continually be treated with contempt by the English government and our own Welsh country men who think it’s better to be governed by its next door neighbour rather than control our own destiny .. Again until we have politicians fighting for Wales rather than be subservants of an English colony ,we will never achieve what s best for all in wales. Only now mark drakeford has taken control of how we progress with the covid situation rather than listen… Read more »

Ben
Guest
Ben

I would have preferred the English name ‘Welsh Senate’ to match the Welsh. The use of parliament for me connotes an imitation Westminster whilst a senate connotes more grandeur than a parliament does. It would have been a bolder move.

Wrexhamian
Guest
Wrexhamian

Fi hefyd, dw i’n meddwl, ond does dim ots gen i, achos dw i’n hoffi’r ddau.

Jonathan Gammond
Guest
Jonathan Gammond

Most senates are the upper houses in bicameral legislatures and tend to have fewer powers than the lower houses e.g. the situation in the US, France, Italy to name just three without even checking wikipedia. Most people will call it the Senedd because that name instantly tells you it’s the folks down in Cardiff Bay rather than those in London, just as people use the shorthand Westminster and Holyrood.

Charles L. Gallagher
Guest
Charles L. Gallagher

Gareth my friend but in this instance you are wrong. For the Scottish Parliaments first eight years of its life under the ‘unionist’ Labour & Lib/Dem coalition it was also known as the ‘Scottish Assembly’ and it was only the coming of SNP control that the name was changed to the Scottish Parliament much to the chagrin of the yoons.

Lyn Thomas
Guest

No sorry that is not correct… First line of the Scotland bill was “there shall be a Scottish Parliament”.

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

She’s right, although ‘Scottish Assembly’ was the name chosen (by Westminster?) for the parliament that would have been established if Scotland had voted ‘Yes’ for the tepid form of devolution on offer in the 1979 referendum. See the Wikipedia entry for ‘Scottish Assembly’. Some ill-informed people may have incorrectly referred to the Parliament as the Scottidsh Assembly, so Charles is almost right, too (kinda).

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

I mean some people may have been calling the real Parliament established after the second (1997) referendum by the name ‘Scottish Assembly’ — incorrectly, of course.

Paul
Guest
Paul

‘Welsh Assembly’ was always a terrible name for our democratic institution.

It was never called that. Sure people called it that, but officially this was never it’s name.

Rob Evans
Guest
Rob Evans

I agree that the name Welsh Parliament / Senedd Cymru is much better than Welsh Assembly when trying to explain its duties and responsibilities and its status. “Welsh Assembly” was shorthand for the official “National Assembly for Wales” name which was an invention of UK Labour (Wales Branch) in the ‘90s who were lukewarm about devolution. “National Assembly” could have worked – it’s used in France and Quebec but it sounds strange and foreign to the British electorate. I always hated the ugly “for Wales” though, “of Wales” would have been better. “For Wales” always sounded like it was imposed… Read more »