Friday, 28 May 2010

Keir Is One Welsh Step Ahead

Thanks to Left Foot Forward and WalesOnline for confirming what this small-town blog said a week earlier. We're not ones to brag, but what the hell. Everyone else does. We can guarantee that if it had been Iain Dale making an accurate observation of this sort, there'd be a party for all fellow Toryphiles which would have been hosted at an English country house covered in pictures of the new Tory hero David Laws.

Sadly, he rarely gets a chance to call upon such accurate observations of the political scene.

Bragging over, back to the Westminster stifling of Wales.

News of the Cabinet Committee membership was revealed a couple of days back and I have been trying to figure out a way of describing the farce without coming over all rage-fuelled Welsh-barbarian. So, anger slightly diluted, here goes.

The fact that Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham and Amersham and Secretary of State for Wales (yes, really), has only been granted membership to one Cabinet Committee is an act of pure ignorance and insult. The new Conservative government (yes, it is) rode the crest of a "new politics" wave, yet has simultaneously reduced the representation of Wales and females in their new Cabinet Committees. Scottish Secretary Danny Alexander has 8 memberships. Fair? Free? Respectful? They were the buzz-words of the new government.

Let us also consider the fact that some of the Committees that Gillan hasn't been given membership on are very relevant to Wales. Her one membership was for the Home Affairs Committee. Fair enough. But why isn't she on the Economic Affairs Committee? Danny Alexander is. As has been pointed out in previous posts, Wales has the second-lowest percentage share of the UK economy (4%; the North East is lowest with 3%) and needs urgent economic growth considering that the public sector cuts will hit Wales disproportionately harder than most areas. I would therefore consider a Welsh voice on the Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs to be pretty important for the people of Wales.

She is also not on the European Affairs Committee. Again, Danny Alexander got a seat on this Committee. And it is wholly relevant to Wales. Swansea has recently had help from EU funding which has basically seen the city reborn. The amazing development at Cardiff Bay was helped not too modestly by EU funds. The EU has helped raise the standards of over 40 beaches in Wales so that they meet its Blue Flag standard. We've received £1.3 billion from the EU to help the development of the Valleys in order to decrease regional gaps in prosperity. And all of this is before we take into consideration the trade benefits that Wales receives as a result of "European Affairs". Why does Wales therefore not have a seat on this Committee? Can we rely on a Eurosceptic government to take into account Wales when considering European Affairs if there is nobody present to represent her?

She will also not be on the Parliamentary Business and Legislation Committee, though she will kindly be sent minutes. Wow. As this Committee would, I assume, deal with a lot of matters regarding devolution, I reckon her presence might be relevant.

It has been 25 years or so since the wicked witch ransacked Wales, but the new Conservative regime clearly has the same lack of desire to see Wales and its people prosper. Welsh MPs must take up the fight in parliament.


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