David Cameron and the National Assembly for Wales

“I believe there is only one way out of this national crisis we face. We need a massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power. From the state to citizens; from the government to parliament; from Whitehall to communities; from Brussels to Britain; from judges to the people; from bureaucracy to democracy. Through decentralisation, transparency and accountability, we must take power away from the political elite and hand it to the man and woman in the street.”

I have just read the groundbreaking speech by David Cameron today in which he defines the "Post-Bureaucratic Age" of smaller and more accountable government and sets the real agenda for change within the UK.

It certainly captures the mood of the moment across the country and sets out a clear and defining contrast with the Labour Party and its supporters.

For Wales, there are a number of mixed messages. For example, despite the promise of greater devolution from the UK central government, there is no indication that this will be through the existing bodies alone. Indeed, there are a number of statements that will send shivers through the corridors of power in Cardiff Bay.

"Could we let individuals, neighbourhoods and communities take control? How far can we push power down?"

i.e. if local government is going to get more powers, will this mean more devolution downwards to councils from bodies such as the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament? Rather than increased powers from the UK Government to devolved bodies, will we also see further decentralisation from the devolved bodies to local authorities?

"So at the election we will include proposals in our manifesto to ask the Boundary Commission to reduce the House of Commons, initially by ten per cent.And while they're at it, to get rid of the unfair distortions in the system today, so that every constituency is the same size in each of the nations of the UK".

If the number of MPs is to be reduced by a minimum of 10 per cent (and possibly more in Wales where the constituencies are far smaller than for the rest of the UK), will this mean that a greater number of AMs will be chosen through PR from regional lists in 2015, possibly changing the power structure of Welsh politics forever.

Alternatively, will it mean a potential reduction in the overall number of Assembly Members (and similarly across other devolved bodies?)

Certainly, this is a historic speech that could set the constitutional agenda for the next parliament and beyond.

As always, the devil will be in the policy detail but the question remains as to where Wales fits into all this and how this radical agenda for change will be applied here ?

Popular posts from this blog