Deselecting dinosaurs

Of course I'm glad to see the demise of Paul Murphy as Secretary of State for Wales. He's a decent enough person, but a definite anti-devolutionist at the time when the mood of people in Wales—and especially his corner of Wales—has markedly changed in favour of more devolution. Without wanting to be rude, he's a political dinosaur. He just isn't able to change his views to suit the way Wales has changed since 1999.

But Peter Hain? In the middle of an expenses scandal? When he mis-declared £103,000 for his personal election campaign? When £25,000 in donations and a £25,000 loan were channelled through a highly dubious research group called the Progressive Policy Forum ... whose sole purpose seems to have been to progress Mr Hain's own political career?

If the details have become fuzzy with time, here's a reminder.

     

At least Hain claims to favour more devolution for Wales. But I have grave doubts over his sincerity. I suspect that his usual one liner, "I really do want more devolution, but not yet" is just a diversionary way of saying he will do all he can to stop it for as long as he is in a position to do so.

But then again, what alternatives do Labour have left? Gordon Brown has played out all his cards ... so he is now being forced to snatch the old ones back off the table and replay them over and over again. Some opponents of the Assembly like to talk about the poor calibre of AMs, but Westminster's unfair voting system gave Labour 29 of the 40 Welsh MPs ... yet it's patently obvious that none of the rest of them was thought to be of sufficient calibre to get the job.

That, more than anything, shows how bankrupt Welsh Labour is in terms of talent at Westminster. If Labour ever hopes to regain the political initiative in Wales, they need to quietly deselect their dinosaurs in favour of candidates who have a more positive attitude towards greater self-government for Wales.

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2 comments:

DaiTwp said...

"I suspect that his usual one liner, "I really do want more devolution, but not yet" is just a diversionary way of saying he will do all he can to stop it for as long as he is in a position to do so."

A little harsh I would say. I'm certainly no fan of Hain but I believe him when he says he's ver pro-devolution. This has certainly been tempered by the fact he is pro-party and even more pro-Hain. The 2006 Wales act being a perfect example of that. Having said that if someone like Murphy was Secetary of State at the time Wales wouldn't even have got the 2006 Act. The Richard Commission would have simply been shelved (along with so many others)and everything would have carried on as it was.
Although all this could be immaterial as if things carry on the way they are within a few months we'll have Cheryl Gillan as the Welsh Secetary and that will be a disaster!

MH said...

Pawb a'i farn. Maybe I am being too harsh, I certainly find it amazing that he of all people should make a comeback in the middle of an expenses scandal, because financial impropriety was the reason he had to resign.

My feeling is that Hain is very proud of the GoWA, and perhaps he has every right to be. Perhaps it really was as difficult to get it though Westminster as he says. But he has now said on a number of occasions that he doesn't want to see a referendum for a good number of years (on the grounds that he doesn't think it can be won) ... which puts him behind the game, because the polls show a 13% margin who would vote "Yes" in it. Things have just moved on faster than he appreciated. He would have preferred the GoWA to be a lasting legacy.

But I do think that Hain is a consummate political animal, almost Mandelsonian. A heavyweight. Not quite the Prince of Darkness ... maybe the Prince of the Orange Sunset. I think that Welsh Labour's self-preservation instinct will be enough to shift their position on the referendum and come round to saying "Yes" simply in order to protect their policies in Wales from a Tory Secretary of State. If so, Hain will be able to make it look as if it was his idea all along.

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