Penblwydd Hapus, S4C

              

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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gwynfor 1, Dafydd Elis-Thomas 0

Anonymous said...

Sorry MH I'm asking you this because there is no other decent, intelligent outlet for Welsh politics - I don't include the BBC Principality as a credible news service any more.

What the hell is going on on Monday with DET, Wigley and others voting with Labour against the Westminster boundery change? Haven't read anything. Are Plaid seriously voting tland fighting for seats in Westminster? We should be celebrating less MPs from Wales.

What's the point of Plaid Cymru? It's not a nationalist party just a regionalist Brit party.

MH said...

Sorry it's taken me a while to get back to you, Anon. I wasn't aware of any specific vote, but I was concerned when some in Plaid originally said they were against the idea of reducing the number of Welsh MPs to give us the same representation as everywhere else. Scotland was similarly over-represented until 2005, but its MPs were reduced to be in line with England and NI as a result of them getting a law making parliament. Therefore it's only fair that the same happens for us.

I set out my position on the matter here and here – arguing that the reduction of 7 MPs (this would bring us into line with the current size of constituencies elsewhere, the other 3 MPs would be part of the general 10% reduction of the size of the Commons) should be offset by an increase in the number of AMs. But that this should happen alongside additional areas of responsibility being devolved to Wales, such as police and justice, energy and broadcasting.

Those posts were written in 2010 when the ConDem proposals were tabled. I haven't changed my position, but the political reality has changed because the deal between the Tories and LibDems to link reduction in the size of the Commons with reform of the Lords has broken down. If the Tories do want to do a deal with Plaid Cymru and others on reduction of the size of the Commons, our price would be for substantial additional powers to be devolved to Wales and for the number of AMs to increase. Joni Edwards said almost exactly the same thing in this article only two weeks ago. But without any transfer of powers to Wales, Plaid is obviously not going to vote for the reduction in the number of MPs the Tories want.

I'm not sure I hold out great hopes for any deal. The numbers are very marginal, and more than a few Tories are likely to rebel, as noted by Blog Menai.

But even if the Westminster boundary changes don't go through, things aren't dead. We will undoubtedly need a new Government of Wales Act to implement Silk and to finally consign the 2006 version to its place in history. I hope that happens in 2014 or early 2015, but I half suspect that constitutional politics will be in a state of paralysis until after the Scottish independence referendum, which would make it too late to do anything before the May 2015 election.

On the other hand, because the Unionist parties have rather stupidly painted themselves into the corner of not offering any additional devolution to Scotland until after the referendum result is known, just about the only way they will have of demonstrating to the Scots that they are serious about a more federal structure for the UK (in order to keep Scotland in the UK) would be to implement it for Wales. More powers for Wales might be the bargaining chip that ups the ante for Scotland.

Anonymous said...

I initially was well up for a reduction in "Welsh" MPs, as a nationalist. We want our MPs to be based in Cardiff at the Assembly.

However I'm really starting to think that not enough powers have been transferred to Wales to justify this, and that the Assembly needs more Members.

The fair way forward is a cut in MPs alongside a growth in AMs and more powers.

Anonymous said...

... Hmmm, so, if you're a Brit nat MP you campaign to retain 40 ans so copper fasten Wales to England. No need to give more powers to Wales 'cos you know Plaid will support you.

So, Brit nats 1 - Plaid 0

Anonymous said...

I guess that is possible. What is more likely though is that Wales would get more powers first, then the number of MPs would be reduced second. The two wouldn't be done at the same time but would be incidental to each other.

It's not as simple as "Brit Nats 1 Plaid 0". We do actually need MPs from Wales for now including Plaid MPs. There's no benefit for Wales in cutting MPs until after a transfer of powers has happened, especially as a cut would probably see Plaid lose one of their 3 MPs.

This is not a black and white area. The UK constitution is murky and unclear, and Plaid should do what is in Wales' interests.

Anonymous said...

This discussion illustrates a huge obstacle to meaningful , confederal style devolution. At some point, Westminster will be fundamentally challenged by it. The priveleges of Wales' cohort of mostly Labour MPs will have to be curtailed. Wales' mostly Labour AMs will of course be boosted by that, but that's democracy. At the moment they're having their devolved cake and eating it.

Devolution isn't yet a big deal but it has opened up some very interesting challenges to the UK state. Now we've embarked on the devolution road there will be huge pressures for devolution to be strengthened so that it can work. Let me spell out a few logical points.

Does anyone think a Wales with fiscal powers can do budget scrutiny with just 60 AMs? We'll need 80.

Once you've got 80, can you justify having 40 MPs? We'll be down to 30. At that point the Assembly's case to have the most influence over Welsh affairs will be indisputable.

Anonymous said...

The discussion illustrates a huge lack of confidence in Plaid Cymru's members you mean.

The British Establishment (Tory, LD and Labour) are not going to give Wales more powers. I could be worng and the the Silk commission's recogmendations coming soon but that'll probably be kicked to the long grass. They certainly won't give 20 new seats to the Assembly. Plaid will be for ever being useful idiots to the Brits in retaining 40 Welsh MPs. It's simples then, Brits will never lower the number of MPs. They can live with 40 useless Welsh MPs in Westminster. By campaiginng to keep these 40 MPs Plaid are making them sound far more important and useful than they really are - Plaid are undermining the case for more powers and members for the Assembly.

Be brave, be principalled say that Welsh MPs in Westminster are a waste of space and a Labour gravytrain - who knows, it may force commentators and voters to think a little and make a choice. Stop pandering to banal British nationalism.

Anonymous said...

Anon 09:31 I don't really disagree with you. Just theres no point cutting off your nose to spite your face. If Wales' MPs are reduced without the transfer of powers, Wales gets weaker. Plaid loses an MP without the transfer of powers.

Happy for representation to be reduced either after or at the same time as a transfer of powers.

Think Jonathan Edwards said the right thing. We will accept a cut in MPs IF there's a major transfer of powers. Don't see how any other answer is desirable.

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