Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones (Labour) was in London on Monday lobbying for greater powers to manage the country’s energy resources. His claim is that Wales loses up to £300 million pounds annually without them. Just three months after the devolution referendum for extra powers, the Welsh Government’s noses are back in the trough for even more powers.
The likelihood of further powers being granted so soon after that referendum was always slim, but that does not stop the magician’s misdirection of this government. From devolution referendums to golf tournaments, whenever the news pressure builds, the Labour Government uses a ‘Look! What’s that coming over the hill?’ strategy to avoid dealing with economic issues or being held accountable for return on investment.
The road trip to Westminster was yet another example of appearing to do something substantive while actually avoiding helping businesses to grow the economy. We’re going to instead go after energy as a revenue source? How convenient is it that the £300 million figure projected is exactly the amount needed to counterbalance the austerity cuts shortfall? And there is no one to stop them.
The LibDems’ implosion over their unholy alliance with the Conservatives in Westminster meant Plaid Cymru (Welsh nationalists) and the LibDems bled Assembly seats in the recent election – yet the Welsh Labour government did not win the day either. Just as voters did a year ago, the electorate preferred ‘none of the above’ by not granting Labour the 31 seats they need to govern alone.
We’ve been subjected to 10 years of economic decline in Wales. Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on development boondoggles from the Welsh Development Agency, International Business Wales, The Ryder Cup golf, Smithsonian Fair junket to under/non-performing high-expense account agencies ostensibly tasked with the purpose of attracting business to Wales… yet the numbers do not lie. Wales lost 70,000+ jobs, and now the public sector is bleeding out under austerity measures that threaten to drag the entire UK into another recession.
Here’s an idea. Make it the government’s priority to roll up their sleeves and actually make the government we currently have work! Last Sunday night at 1:17 am there was a party so loud three-quarters of a mile away that I called the police non-emergency number only to be informed that I had to call the council on a line that I was assured was manned 24/7. Guess what? Yes, that didn’t work either. Sit for 10 minutes in any council waiting area and you can see waste, inefficiency and abuse of tax-payer funds everywhere.
Why not appoint someone, First Minister, to reinvent your government? Like US Vice President Al Gore did in 1993, go department by department, line by line, and build in efficiencies with real teeth. At the same time hire a real economic development pro from outside Wales, and together go to every business in Wales and tell them this is what we need – that you have to get on board to grow Wales, not just your own business, because a rising tide will lift all boats.
Do that, and the next trip to Westminster for energy independence might have some teeth – rather than looking like just another way to maintain the status quo.
Denis G Campbell is the author of 6 books including 'Billionaire Boys Election Freak Show,' 'The Vagina Wars' & 'Egypt Unsh@ckled.' He is the editor of UK Progressive Magazine and provides commentary to the BBC, itv Al Jazeera English, CNN, MSNBC and others. His weekly 'World View with Denis Campbell' segment can be heard every Thursday on the globally syndicated The David Pakman Show. You can follow him on Twitter via @UKProgressive and on Facebook.
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