Theatre in Wales

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A Fantastic Vision

A Political Diary

Election Notes: A Manifesto , 2021 Senedd Election , April 23, 2021
A Political Diary by Election Notes: A Manifesto A new railway line runs down the west coast and connects Caernarfon to Carmarthen. A civil service elite is trained at a new institution modelled on the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and France's ENA. Every family has an end-of-month payment of £35. Childcare is free after the age of one.

Prosperity Wales, a wholly-owned government agency, is allocating venture capital. A National Academy for Welsh tourism puts Welsh culture at the fore and embraces apprenticeships to degree level courses.

The economy of Wales is locally owned, pays high wages and employment and investment are shared equitably across the country. Young people of ability have ceased to migrate. Energy is completely renewable, owned and generated locally and produces no emissions. Biodiversity thrives, the agriculture sector produces an increasingly localised food system.

People live longer and fitter lives in a healthier society that prevents sickness. Citizens are amongst the most educated and highly skilled globally. They are informed and engaged and receive the information necessary to hold decision makers to account.

Welsh is used as a language for living, working and public and private administration. Racism, misogyny and other forms of discrimination and intolerance have been eradicated.

Post-Brexit preference is given to Welsh businesses in public procurement. A Public Procurement Act places a statutory duty on public bodies to adhere to national procurement guidelines. Social procurement drives forward other objectives, self-employment, co-operatives, Welsh language usage. The cost of procurement has plummeted.

Exports are led by manufacturing. Industrial Innovation Clusters have a designated lead body to develop Industrial Transformation Roadmaps. The Development Bank of Wales borrows from pension funds. Loans to Small and Medium Enterprises are set at zero interest rates. Mostyn is a deep-water port specialising in offshore energy and tidal lagoon maintenance. A Welsh Wool Research Centre in Newtown adds value through technology and information transfer in the development of new enterprises. The Swansea Tidal Lagoon sits by a Welsh Sea Life Centre.

The 22 unitary authorities are joined by a new system of 150 empowered Community and Town Councils, with planning powers and economic development roles. A network of Government Regional Offices headed by Chief Regional Officers is responsible for coordinating the delivery of the national spatial strategy.

In the arts 1,000 freelancers work within the community and in schools and are paid £12,000 a year. A new National Gallery of Contemporary Art exists at a location other than Cardiff. Wales takes part in its own right in the Eurovision song contest. A telecommunications body for Wales is independent of government with a remit to include strengthening Wales’ local and national democracy. It presses for a levy on digital and private providers in order to enhance public service.

A Ministry of the Future is responsible for digital, innovation, technology and long-term planning. The Ministry “future-proofs” government decisions, including budget decisions, so they are considered against the impact they will have on future generations.

All this, and more, was in the manifesto for government, a document six times the length that of the Conservatives.

John Ball, a commentator of weight, wrote for Nation Cymru. Some excerpts:

“Quite how a £6billion green economic stimulus will happen is suitably vague and the grandly named National Infrastructure Commission is a throwback to the questionable activities of the WDA. One wonders who will make up the membership of this worthy body. The plan requires “shovel ready projects”, but such schemes as underpin these policies take months – and in some cases years – to become shovel ready.

“New homes, retrofitting (whatever that means) existing homes, electrifying the railway system and laying out broadband, worthy though they are, cannot be magicked up overnight – ignoring incidentally the fact that the Senedd has limited powers to expand the railway system.

“Any economist worth his salt knows that it is the role of government to create the conditions for growth, not to advocate policies aimed at identifying winners. The latter is a discredited idea with a sad history, not least the (now quietly dropped) sector-specific initiatives that underpinned Ieuan Wyn Jones’ disastrous spell as economic minister.

“The other is of course cost. As things are now the Senedd powers to raise tax or borrow are extremely limited or non-existent; quite where the magic £6billion for green policies, let alone the money for infrastructure is to come from remains a mystery.

What the party must do is twofold. First, develop and present realistic economic development polices utilising the present – if limited – powers of the Senedd to build an economy from the bottom up. These powers already exist but have never been fully utilised.”

A national party in December 2019 went to the people with a programme vast extension of the state. It too projected the United Kingdom as a dystopia. So too the manifesto said “Britain is broken...the reality of modern Britain: a state defined by crushing poverty, ruled by a corrupt élite...” This diagnosis has a drawback in that it is not felt widely. Transformation is regarded with scepticism.

John Ball critique at:

Full programme at _ENGLISH.pdf

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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