Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Wales needs substance, not soundbites

There is an air of complacent expectation across the Welsh centre-left at the moment that the 'pendulum' is merely going to swing back to them now the Conservatives are in power in Westminster. It’s writ large in their body language and they could yet be punished for it.

It leaves the impression that the Labour/Plaid coalition are less focused on making devolution work efficiently, by producing meaningful solutions to the problems that Wales faces, and merely content to allow the old Westminster model to ‘swing’ them back into power.

After 11 years of Labour-led governance in the National Assembly, inevitably it appears that they have truly exhausted their collective imagination... A tired government running on empty; bereft of ideas and, above all, bereft of leadership.

The same familiar faces, governing as if it were their right – and not a privilege afforded through merit.
Recently an ex-Minister was heard bemoaning the obstruction of government policy by senior civil servants - surely this misses the point altogether. It is the duty of Ministers to enact their democratic mandate and to ensure that working relationships with civil servants are maintained in the appropriate way. That is leadership in the truest sense. It would, after all, be humiliatingly absurd to hear such comments from someone of the stature of Sir Alex Ferguson, that he was no longer able to command the respect of his support staff...

In truth, the Welsh Assembly Government needs to learn to govern more maturely and with an authority hitherto unseen. Having spent several years happily playing little brother to Labour at Westminster they now appear to have seamlessly reverted to 'opposition mode' with the coalition having now taken up the reins in London.

This merely leaves a leadership vacuum, and we all know that natures abhors...

The next decade in Wales needs to be about firm leadership, with government conducting itself more maturely - with less belly-aching! Whoever wins the next election in May would do well to remember that.

Many WAG ministers have become too used to the comfort blanket of 'blank cheque-book politics'; throwing a lot of money and not necessarily the same degree of thought at a problem. This failure to articulate an inspiring framework of ideas lets the nation down. Too many gimmicks - not enough substance.

WAG will need to muster all of its creativity and energy if we are to see the economic revival that Wales desperately needs to catch up to speed with the rest of the UK. Right now i don't see much more than steam coming from the benches opposite.

If respect is indeed the currency of leadership then surely it won't be long before Labour's cheques start bouncing, revealing only what we've suspected all along - that they are ideologically bankrupt, both here in Wales and in the UK as a whole.

What Wales need is substance, not soundbites...

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