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It’s time to ask hard questions about the big issues shaping the future of Wales

12 Jun 2018 4 minute read
Theresa May frowning and smiling. Picture by S4C

Guto Harri

You rarely get to see Theresa May smile. More often than not, there’s little reason to, and you’ll recognise a familiar frown on S4C when she’s challenged on the prospects for Wales in a world beyond Brexit.

But on a sunny day in the Gwendraeth valley, asked about her penchant for Penderyn or the high political price of her walking holiday in Dolgellau last year, the Prime Minister was almost radiant.

There was a cheeky smile too when she suggested – so so subtly – that Eluned Morgan shouldn’t leave the Welsh Labour leadership to an all-boys shortlist.

You can watch the interview tonight. It kicks off a new political series which aims to bring politics alive at a critical time for Wales and the UK.

You might catch a glimpse of Westminster. You might see a shot or two of the Senedd. But these programmes are being filmed where the real political debate takes place – across the country – in our homes, offices, pubs and parks.

We’ll also take our elected representatives out of their surgeries, where they’ve always told us the hard graft takes place, to the street where those of us who pay their salaries get to challenge them directly.

We’ll take significant players to places that say something about them – or the situation they’re handling. Don’t expect a studio and set, bright lights and branding.

One senior figure – central to the future of Wales – will be filmed where he first experienced our beautiful country, on SAS selection in the Beacons.

Call it context. Call it character. Over 30 years of studying, reporting and (briefly) working in politics I’ve always sought to understand not only what a politician says and does but what makes them tick.

Personality is invariably more relevant than their policies; the principles that guide them as critical as their intellect and ability to practice power effectively.

There are huge questions now about the personalities, policies and principles shaping the future of Wales and the UK.

Do we have the right leaders? Theresa May’s had a torrid time at Westminster. Jeremy Corbyn – despite his fan club – knows most of his MP’s would rather he went. Carwyn Jones has been hounded into early retirement and Neil Hamilton was ousted a few weeks ago.

But what about others? Many in Plaid Cymru are hugely frustrated by Leanne Wood and not many Conservatives in Cardiff would describe R.T. as the best man to win over the next generation.

Captains of industry are fired when their companies underperform. Sports coaches can be sacked after a short string of bad results. So I’m often baffled how ambitious, intelligent MPs and AMs drift into a world where they say another four years isn’t long to wait for a chance to change direction. Really?

Then there’s vision and strategy – or the lack of it. Where will the jobs, growth and taxes come from? Was doing our own thing on health and education really wise? How will we replace EU grants and subsidies when we’ve left?

Which markets have fresh potential when the single market on our doorstep becomes harder to access? Why did Wales vote for that masochistic adventure?

Why don’t we ever vote in a different party? Why didn’t we bid for the next Commonwealth games? Why can’t we decide if we want a tidal barrage or not? We’ll hit issues like these hard and seek the best people to answer them.

Tonight we’ll be asking if Wales should consider legalising Cannabis – not so that we can get stoned with impunity but because places like Colorado have massively boosted agriculture, tourism and tax revenues by doing just that.

And Wales relies pretty heavily on those same industries. There are pros and cons of course – but surely it’s time for a little fresh thinking?

See what you think when you’ve heard the debate, and stay with us for a season that will hopefully stir things up – thoughtfully, respectfully, and with the best intentions.

You can watch Y Byd yn ei Le tonight, Tuesday 12 June 9.30 on S4C, or on demand on, BBC iPlayer and other platforms. English subtitles are available.

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