Features

How Wales was betrayed by its (Labour) government.

We’ve lived with the Labour leader’s alternative to free-market reform for 15 years. The results are horrendous

12 July 2014

9:00 AM

12 July 2014

9:00 AM

In England, success in life is bound up with where you went to school. In Wales, where I come from, the standard of education can be so miserable that you’d do better to get expelled.

I did. I’d just spent three days in ‘isolation’ in my south Wales comprehensive — banished to a cubicle with a CCTV camera — for misbehaviour. As I left the grounds, I lit a cigarette. A teacher accosted me. I got lippy and she smacked me across the face. I was expelled soon after. Thank God.

If you want good schooling in Wales, you’d be best to go private. If you’re taken ill, make sure you’re treated in the English NHS, not the Welsh version. If you want a private-sector job, best leave Wales. You get the picture. My country, with its mighty industrial past, has become the basket case of the United Kingdom. Wales has the highest proportion of low-income households in Britain — and there is more poverty in working households in Wales than in non-working ones. Wales also has the UK’s highest level of child poverty.

When the scale of this social, educational and economic failure is pointed out in Westminster, Welsh politicians splutter about ‘a Tory war on Wales’ or ‘an English war on Wales’. To which, as a young, working-class guy who’s lived almost all his life in Wales, I can only reply: if telling the truth is war, then this is a just war.

The problem is simple: Wales has been betrayed by 15 years of maladministration by a Labour government stuck in the 1970s. There’s no shortage of patriotic fervour here: if you want a taste of national pride, visit Cardiff on a rugby match day. But that just makes it more tragic that devolution in Wales offers a masterclass in how not to run a country.


It was a Welsh prime minister, David Lloyd George, who laid the foundations for the welfare state. But don’t bet on another British prime minister emerging from a Welsh state school. My old school has recently been taken into ‘special measures’ — a bureaucratic term given to failure-factory schools which inflict immense damage on the communities they are supposed to serve. In total, six local education authorities in Wales are in special measures. In my class, 30-plus pupils of very differing abilities and ambitions were homogenised into a one-size-fits-all approach that didn’t fit anyone. Troublemakers (including me) alleviated the tedium by devising their own hidden curriculum. Its mainstay: disrupting the work of beleaguered teaching staff.

At its worst, this culture of disaffection would create lessons so fractious that we’d have less than ten minutes of teaching. Teachers would take ‘study leave’ — months of respite brought on by the stress of such a chaotic environment. Such absences were encouraged by the unions. Sorting out classroom discipline was beyond anyone’s capabilities.

Do members of the Welsh Assembly know this is happening on the estates of south Wales? Yes. But they do virtually nothing, lest they seem to be ‘collaborating’ with the coalition. There’s no attempt to challenge teaching unions that are chiefly concerned with keeping third-rate teachers in jobs. Needless to say, Michael Gove’s reforms are ignored. So are any reforms. League tables? SAT tests for primary school leavers? These were done away with in Wales long ago, and now just 52 per cent of Welsh students leave school with five usable GCSEs. As Neil Kinnock might have put it: is that because Welsh teenagers are thick? Or is it because they’re being betrayed by a system that puts the demands of unions before the needs of pupils? Research from Bristol University found Welsh exam results had fallen by two GCSE grades per pupil on average each year since league tables were scrapped.

There’s a similar crisis in health. Wales is in the grip of the worst union-led resistance to reform anywhere in the NHS. It’s not wise to complain about it, however. Any criticism of ‘Nye Bevan’s NHS’ and you’re accused of advocating an American system in which uninsured people are left to die in the street. But what would Bevan have made of the fact that Welsh cancer patients now routinely cross the border to get treatment in the English NHS? I can only imagine his disgust. The Welsh father-in-law of a colleague of mine had a stroke. His nearest A&E was in Wales but he was told: ‘You should go to Chester — you’ll be safer there.’ Six hospitals in Wales have ‘higher than expected death rates’ (i.e., higher than in England). The Welsh government has finally, after intense pressure, agreed to an independent review.

Some of the pressure came from the Labour MP Ann Clwyd, whose husband spent 27 hours on a trolley waiting for treatment before dying in a Welsh hospital. Despite this, Ms Clwyd was denied an invitation to an Assembly committee meeting into NHS standards by her own party. Welsh Labour said her inclusion would be ‘constitutionally inappropriate’.

If you draw attention to the devastation caused by bad government in Wales, you’ll be accused of being unpatriotic. Our shocking public services and the scandal of benefit dependency in the Welsh valleys can only safely be mentioned if you blame them on ‘Thatcher’. But why have the scars of pit closures still not healed 30 years on? Where are the regeneration projects for the communities that drove Britain into the industrial age?

At the root of these problems is the ferociously anti-market mentality of Welsh politicians. The business minister, Edwina Hart, has a taxpayer-funded subscription to the Morning Star. (‘The minister has taken the Morning Star and the Financial Times daily since 1999 in order to get a balanced view on the issues of the day,’ explains her spokesman.) She has expressed her ‘regret about the capitalist system’ and urged Assembly members to learn the lessons of Marx and Engels. They seem to have done so. In Swansea, 35 per cent of the workforce is employed by the state. In Cardiff alone, nearly 50,000 people work in the public sector.

Such statistics are met with quiet despair by many Labour MPs. Ed Miliband, scared of the unions and desperate to hold on to regional fiefdoms, turns a blind eye. Indeed, he has proposed the Welsh Labour model as an ‘alternative’ to Tory government. Wales is certainly closer to Miliband’s politics than those of Tony Blair. The Welsh Assembly used its powers to reject the Blair reforms, and the appalling results are now on display. So I have seen Miliband’s future — it doesn’t work. England should be worried.

Christopher Gage is a former Spectator intern.

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Show comments
  • Shazza

    The stuff of nightmares – Red Ed in No. 10 next year.
    It really will be RIP GB.

    • JB_1966

      Yes indeed. It’s the intent of the revolutionaries in the system to being this about and they’re doing well so far. Phase 2 is unlikely to be their socialist utopia however.

    • Liberty

      So, if a Tory is number one or two in your constituency vote Tory not UKIP.

      • Shazza

        I shall. I live in a Tory stronghold.
        My fervent hope is that UKIP has an adverse effect on Labour in the North and possibly, even take a seat or two there.

        Dan Hodges in today’s Telegraph Blogs (free, just Google it) is still of the mind that the Tories will win next year. In the comments section below he does say that if Red Ed offers a referendum on the EU, it could be a game changer. Let’s hope he doesn’t.

        • Wessex Man

          If you believe that there will ever be a referendum under David Cameron, even if he gets another chance to Govern you should check the meeting of Junckers and the UKip MEPs. There’s never going to be any negotiations. The only way forward is out!

          • First L

            Cameron is at this moment railroading a law through parliament that will make it illegal for there not to be a referendum in 2017.

            Cameron is saying let me negotiate and then have the referendum – not let me negotiate in place of a referendum.

          • Wessex Man

            You call that honourable? His commitment is this, re-elect me and mine, leave any party you may belong to but especially UKip, when if re-elected I’ll attempt to negotiate with Junckers who has already said there will be no negotiations and on the basis of those ‘negotiations’ I will hold a referendum.

            It all sounds like the Westminster Soundbite government that the voters are turning away from in tteir droves.

          • First L

            No – he’s said the opposite. He has said that the people deserve a say on the EU, which is no longer what they signed up to in the seventies. He has said that he personally is for the EU and that if he can achieve renegotiation then he believes that more people will prefer to stay in than leave. However he has accepted that now Junckers is President, that his renegotiations are more likely to fail, so there is a higher probability that people will vote to leave.

            Personally I think he was always optimistic about changing peoples minds. But I respect the fact that he has a position which is opposite to the people, but will give the people their say anyway. Which is more than Miliband or Clegg would ever do.

          • Wessex Man

            I never said that was what he said, he is too much of a soundbite politician to say such a thing, do get your facts right!

          • IndependentEngland

            Cameron was elected on a manifesto that included resolving the West Lothian Question. He has reneged on that and if re elected he will renege on the promise of an in out referendum!

          • Guest

            Actually a referendum in 2017 will be too late to change anything as Cameron is in the process of giving away 43 areas of control in policy and policing to the EU. In 2017 even if the UK vote to leave the EU we can’t without the approval of member states. Please sign and share the petition https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/withrawal-of-the-uk-from-the-eu-using-article-50-of-the-lisbon-treaty-by-1st-nov-2014?source=facebook-share-button&time=1405105956

          • politeresponse

            He is not honourable at all because a referendum in 2017 will be too late to change anything! Cameron is in the process of giving away 43 areas of control in policy and policing to the EU which will mean that in 2017 even if the UK vote to leave the EU we won’t be able to without the approval of 19 member states. Please sign and share the petition https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/withrawal-of-the-uk-from-the-eu-using-article-50-of-the-lisbon-treaty-by-1st-nov-2014?source=facebook-share-button&time=1405105956

    • greggf

      The welfare party will win the next GE, and currently the Coalition has presided over the biggest rise in welfare dependency especially housing benefit!
      Check the link;http://lartsocial.org/housingcrisis

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers

      It amazes me how in only two lines you can get the time line wrong.
      It’s (1) RIP GB followed by (2) Red Ed 2015.

      • Wessex Man

        only in your head.

    • Richard Lewis

      Westminister rule is the stuff of nightmares for anyone believing in real democracy

  • Flintshire Ian

    ‘You should go to Chester — you’ll be safer there.’ Absolutely right. If I ever need an emergency ambulance I hope that I stay awake long enough to tell the crew to take me to the Countess of Chester (hospital) and not to Wrexham or Bodelwyddan.

    • global city

      Liverpool is now full of Welsh health refugees…as day visitors of course.

  • HJ777

    “So I have seen Miliband’s future — it doesn’t work. England should be worried.”

    Nobody in England is worried because there isn’t they slightest chance that he will be elected.

    • lakelander

      I wish I could agree with you. The natural Conservative vote is split with UKIP who, despite the merit of many of their arguments, threaten to allow Miliband a free ride to No10.

      England should be worried. I certainly am.

      • Wessex Man

        that’s your problem, you are obviously a Tory, who thinks that the thousands who have left to Tory Party in despair, should show their patriotic zeal by rejoing a party that is no longer Tory and hasn’t been for years.

    • Christopher Gage

      I do hope you’re right!

  • Gwangi

    OK, some good points here BUT really Wales is not that different from England.
    The biggest issue is the health service. For example, in Wales we have not had an inquiry as they have had in England, despite much asking by many people and Ann Clwyd MP (who was refused a chance to give evidence at the Assembly before being allowed to on the second attempt – that will happen soon). Cancer identification rates are better than in England, but people in Wales do not have access to the same cancer drugs as patients over the border which is just plain nuts!
    Re education. Well, English schools are also a basket case. There are good and bad schools in Wales, as in England (which has many awful schools), and de facto grammar schools (e.g. the comprehensives that all the Labour elite send their kids to).
    One big problem is that Wales is in effect a one party state – we know Labour will always be in power, and the only question is if they rule alone or are in coalition. This is deeply unhealthy and leads to bad government. And Carwyn Jones blames everything bad on the UK government but takes credit for anything good – hilariously he blamed London and the Tories when economic figures were bad then took the credit when they were good! Such a red herring. The people of Wales deserve better.
    First things first though: we need an inquiry into the Welsh NHS now.

    • Peter Stroud

      Sure, some English schools are basket cases, but we have an education secretary who is trying hard to improve them. Socialist Wales will not accept such new ideas, because they are not socialist, and suggest elitism.

      • Gwangi

        Indeed. And Carwyn Jones has just abolished all targets for schools and hospitals too, as league tables were abolished years ago.
        It really is a disgrace. Wales used to have a great respect for education and some wonderful schools which lifted the poor out of their drab lives and sent them to university and future professional careers.

        The system used to be superior to England’s and it sent more ordinary kids to higher education than England. Now, as a whole, it isn’t as good – and worse, Wales has lost that culture of respect for education which, like it or not, was tied into the humourless religious puritanism in Wales of the past.

        Now Wales tops the league of the fattest people in the UK – sad, but true. Though there is Wales and Wales, you know. The Valleys really are a world away from certain towns and cities.

        Sadly the one party state is in denial about all this and accuses anyone who mentions the decline of healthcare and schools here of being anti-Wales and a Tory stooge. But there is a general discontent in the air – I wouldn’t be surprised if the Welsh Assembly government (with a 1 seat majority) fell later this year.

        • Shazza

          UKIP came a close second to Labour in the EU elections. Do you think there is any chance of them winning a seat in Wales?

          • Gwangi

            Not sure in UK election, but certainly in the Assembly. The Lib Dems will be left with just one seat maybe. UKIP should be several to be the 4th or maybe even 3rd largest party.

            Sadly, in Wales, we know the Assembly government will always either be Labour or a Coalition led by Labour, probably with Plaid Cymru. The arrogance of our First Minister and Labour in power here stems from that certainly.

            No wonder so many people can’t be bothered to vote.

          • Shazza

            Sad. I know Wales quite well, in fact am married to a Welshman. Beautiful country. Lovely people but so blinkered when it comes to the Labour Party. They are living in the past, thinking that Labour still has their welfare at heart.

        • global city

          also massive resources are being spent on pushing a language onto people who do not obsess about it and making it compulsory on irrelevant institutions. Nobody outside of Wales and bits of Patagonia will never study Welsh… so the place is handicapping itself even more.

          • First L

            Sorry no, that’s utter bollocks. Everyone born in Wales needs to have the opportunity to be a Welsh speaker. Welsh is the very heart of our identity and life. The Romans couldn’t eradicate Welsh, the Normans couldn’t eradicate Welsh and the English couldn’t eradicate Welsh and trust me all three of them tried their utmost to do so. Anyone against that has no right to speak. That is a non issue – Welsh will be taught. No debate.

          • global city

            I think you actually came to agree with my point without realising there.

            I said nothing about killing a language…you must appreciate that ‘Welsh Wales’ is about ten miles away from Liverpool, as the crow flies. I also said nothing about being able to learn the language as a cultural statement.

            Read what I wrote. Research some of the discriminatory approaches the zealots now use, in schools and in work. Think through the bureaucratic misuse of an ostensibly decent aim (now, where have we heard that sort of stuff before?) ‘Pushing a language onto people’ is not a useful attitude to take.

          • Wessex Man

            You are so right, no was very little use of the Welsh language in the South of Wales prior to the zealots now it’s a requirement if you wish to apply for an work with the Welsh Assembly and Councils.

          • global city

            Some pretty sinister stuff is happening in Wales now, in the name of ‘promoting the language’.

          • Gwangi

            Oh yes, so much so that any utter mediocrity who speaks Welsh will leapfrog over far better candidates to get into positions of power in councils, media, various committees and quangos, the police etc.

          • First L

            I went to a Welsh school until I was 3. Then it was closed and I had to go to an English speaking school. I lost all my Welsh and after moving to England at 7 years of age have had little to no opportunity to relearn. As such I had part of my identity ripped from me.

            If I had my way, there would be no such thing as an English speaking school in Wales.

          • Wessex Man

            Did you notice that there was no Anglo Saxon taught in the English Schools, I feel devasteated! it’s as if a part of my identity has been ripped from me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

          • Gwangi

            The swivel-eyed rage of the convert glares from you, matey.
            Ever thought of turning Muslim too? Then you could make your victim-hood-craving pity party go with a real BANG.

          • First L

            Er. Where did I call myself a victim? You sound like a very unsavoury chap.

          • Gwangi

            Yes, but the sheer effort and resources that go on that, funding the usual crachach and taffia to do so, and NOT funding entrepreneurship, business, growth, education and health is a fair point. Pots of cash get thrown at mediocre writers in Welsh too who don’t deserve to be published and sell less than 100 or 200 copies of their tedious nationalist novels.
            It is VERY important that all Welsh kids get to speak, read and writer standard English to a high level. Many Welsh speakers only speak pidgin Welsh anyway. The danger is that those kids will end up speaking 2 languages badly.
            I agree that Welsh is part of the culture BUT only a part, and only 20% of people here speak Welsh anyway, and all of them speak English.
            Not as absurd as the Scottish parliament attempt to make their working class dialect ‘Scots’ a language taught in schools though. Cockney is JUST as valid, of course.

          • First L

            Sheer effort and resources? Yes and? This is our culture and history and existence we are talking about here. Know what the second official language of Rome was? Welsh. It was the only country in the empire which retained its own language when dealing with official business – law and so on. The 100 million other people in the Empire – Latin. There is no end to the effort and resources we should be devoting to the language. Without it we might as well be English.

            Mediocre writers in Welsh? I presume you’ve never read Hedd Wynn or Dafydd Ap Gwilym.

            And if most welsh speakers only speak pidgin then that’s a reason to improve Welsh teaching. It’s not the case for any of the welsh speakers I know of anyway. Why do you think that kids will end up speaking two languages badly? I was fluent in both at 3. Still have some nursery rhymes. Couldn’t tell you a word of German from my teenage years. Do you honestly rate kids so low as to say that they are incapable of learning more than one language? Young is when it should be taught. When kids are learning language naturally.

          • Jambo25

            Perhaps you could point us to the Scottish schools which push “their working class dialect ‘Scots'” as a language which is taught in schools. This passed me by during all of the 30 odd years I taught in Scotland. Its also passing my younger ex colleagues who are still teaching by.

          • Jambo25

            You do realise that the Crachach typically tend to go to a public school, then Jesus College Oxford and are about as right wing, Tory voting as any social group in Wales. Labour or Plaid supporting they are not.

          • garanhywi

            Agreed. What Welsh people lack and need more than anything else is
            self-confidence, which it has been a priority of English rule to destroy
            in the Welsh for the past 800 yrs of subjugation, principally by
            seeking to eradicate all those attributes that give a people pride in
            themselves and a strong sense of of self vis à vis their language,
            culture and history.

    • jesseventura2

      No muslim grooming gangs FGM cutters honour killers caught in labour run Wales?

      • Wessex Man

        what’s that got to do with this thread?

    • Wessex Man

      What? what? At the last Question Time held in Wales, Peter Hain blew his top and said there was nothing wrong with the Welsh NHS, it was far better than Englands and the audience roar of approval could be heard over here in the West Country!

      • global city

        That’s what socialists do. They press the programme no matter how savage. Look at what happened in Mid Staffs, socialists hounding the woman who blew the whistle of the about the abuse of working class people in the area.

        Dogma trumps all.

      • Gwangi

        There is now a petition going through the Welsh Assembly, I see:

        https://www.assemblywales.org/epetition-list-of-signatories.htm?pet_id=1019

        I’ve signed it. Not that I think it’ll do much good. BUT the Labour administration in Wales has a majority of JUST ONE, so it wouldn’t take all that much for them to lose a vote of confidence and for Wales to get its much-needed and much-deserved inquiry into the Welsh NHS.

    • Richard Lewis

      Wales is a weak colony; Most parts of Englad are weak colonies of Westminster

      So yeah,,,,,they are quite similar I suppose bachan

  • Peter Stroud

    This is a very sad article, yet it is well supported by the statistics. When I was young (a thousand years ago) the Welsh education system was held up as an example, by English educationists. Now, it seems, just a few years of rampant socialism has ruined it. Miliband certainly seems to support such ‘pure’ socialism, so we must hope and pray that he never receives the keys to number 10.

    • Gwangi

      Yes, it used to be excellent – with superb grammar schools which allowed those born in poverty, working class and lower middle class backgrounds to improve themselves.

      Now, sadly, that has evaporated to leave mediocre comprehensives mostly, a huge issue with obesity and drugs. and a general celebration of ignorance. That respect for education has vanished here now. These days, the boom industries on the Welsh high street include tanning salons, tattoo parlours, ear-piercing joints, casinos and gambling dens, places to get drunk etc.

      I am not convinced it would come back if anyone else were in charge though. After all, the process has taken decades – and half that time at least there were Tory governments in charge of Wales.

    • Christopher Gage

      I found it difficult to write, though the statistics back it up. I think I’m right in saying the Welsh education system was on par with England in 2000.

    • vieuxceps2

      Yes, Iremember as a boy being aware of the high standard of education in Wales, indeed a good many teachers in English schools were Welsh.What happened?

  • gerronwithit

    I guess they’ll not be going for Separation any time soon. Better to keep the Socialist experiment going on English funding, of which many Scots seem to have enthusiastically forgotten.

    • Richard Lewis

      The holtham commission actually found that Wales was underfunded by Westminster per year………….Way to go perpetuating myths of Wales being subsidised

      A world leader in energy exports should not be poor

      • global city

        Taxes saw most of the wealth taken away from the sources. nationalisation took everything else. Stupid socialist miners and politicians.

      • Wessex Man

        Wales was just underfunded by a lot less than England was underfunded, let’s have that Barnett formula, which he disowned

        and said he was ashamed it carries his name scrapped. If you don’t like that you can always go for independence like our friends north of the border.

  • Gwilym Selwood

    The Celts have always been more egalitarian but its also the case that the well educated people in Scotland and Wales and also great many educated people at every social strata in England have just become totally sick and disgusted with the destruction of the economy,the NHS and public services by the moral bankruptcy and rapacious greed of the conservatives. THe Wellfare state has been overwhelmingly effective but this has unfortunately had the effect of making the electorate well off and healthy enough to forget the pre war years when there was little opposition to the tories and conditions were lamentable. The foodbanks are back.That in iteself is absolutely deplorable.

    • Gwangi

      The Celts? Oh come off it! It’s entirely a mythical construct. Genetically the Welsh, English and Scottish are much the same.
      Moreover, most people can see the benefit scroungers all around them who do not want to work (a Polish immigrant gets work in a week after arriving in the UK; many Brits are just lazy and ready to take free money from our much-abused welfare state).
      It is the LABOUR administration in Wales that has been in charge of the NHS for 15 years and which has cut its funding by £800 million – plus, very cruelly, refusing life-saving drugs to cancer sufferers who would get those drugs if they lived in England. Absolute disgrace? Yes is dam well is.

      • Gwilym Selwood

        Wasn’t swivel eyed loons the way one of your lot described their own local activists (:-> ? The fact that the Welsh and the Scots have always voted differently to the English means something and your idea of Celtic culture is one the Celts don’t share – try asking them (:->.There are many inequalities in healthcare as you identify – cancer treatment is one , IVF is another . Taking your £800m figure with a pinch of salt and discounting mismanagement or corruption, our shared revulsion of this is exactly why we should all vote Labour – for a standardised monitored system that everyone pays for according to their earnings .This is indeed the whole point of a “National” “Health” “Service” which is now under threat. Ditto every other public service that is necessary. I accept though that the welfare state needs to change and Im happy for this provided that other freeloaders are also exposed to genuinely progressive taxation and punished eg the bankers. Maybe you are happy to subsidise hard working Polish Plumbers , or perhaps 1960s African London Transport workers that got you to work or perhaps people earning less than the minimum wage to make sure we all have cheap fruit in our supermarkets ? If you aren’t, which ethnic group are you going to pick on next ?

        • bugshead

          Good grief I despair when I read crap like this. Are you capable of stringing one thought after another in an approximately logical way.? Or are you just a half wit?

          • Gwilym Selwood

            Just a welsh halfwit with a physics degree (:-). Goodbye

        • Gwangi

          The DNA does not lie. There is no significant difference genetically between Scots, English and Welsh. To say there is makes you a fantasist at best a liar bigot racist at worst.

          The myth that the English were all Anglo-Saxons is just that. People in England are descended from those here 10,000 years ago and those who built Stone Henge, as are the Welsh. More incomers came of course – in the case of Wales from Iberia. Nothing whatsoever to do with any incomers to Scotland who came from the south (England) or Scandinavia (also incomers to England). Read Oppenheimer.

          In Wales, which has 3 million people, a great many incomers came from (mostly) England (and elsewhere) in the 19th century, and their descendants are often the biggest Welsh nationalists now.

          I live in Wales and am from Welsh stock – so shut your sanctimonious racist anti-English bigoted cakehole, boyo, and realise most Welsh people do NOT want independence at all and only vote Labour because that’s the way their parents voted – just like in northern England. Sheep, the lot of em.

        • Wessex Man

          You seem desperately unhappy to be part of the UK, much like the Cybernat Nutjobs in Scotland, why on earth don’t you start your own campaign for Welsh Independence?

          • Gwilym Selwood

            I don’t have any strong feelings about Welsh Independance although I do deeply despise tory values. Remaining in Europe has many benefits – as well as the strong economic case, one of the most significant for me is diminishing the influence of the right in general. Pro Europeans will exert a much stronger influence and secure many more social and economic benefits for us all if they remain united.

        • Gwangi

          ‘The fact that the Welsh and the Scots have always voted differently to the English means something’
          No more than the fact that London has usually voted different from the south-east. That the south-west has voted differently from that. That northern England has usually voted differently from southern England. That cities have voted differently from the country.

          And you seem to spurt out the word ‘always’ without much thought. Much of Wales was a Liberal stronghold until recently. Moreover, Scotland’s nationalists used to vote Tory – so much so that Churchill himself had his seat in Dundee…

          Maybe read Simon Schama on the rise of nationalism and attempted Balkanisation of the UK, all because of a resurge in a 19th century idea of romantic nationalism and visceral tribal/ethnic identity that is most certainly NOT inclusive of modern at all. It is a reaction against globalisation maybe, and aims to destroy the tolerant and inclusive idea of British identity and replace it with purity of blood in a way that can only be called fascistic.

          • Jambo25

            Rave on all you want about Wales. I’m afraid they look like they’re stuck with you but you obviously know little or nothing about Scottish history or modern society so you’d be well advised to keep your obvious ignorance to yourself.

        • global city

          The very notion of a political culture is idiotic, and an oxymoron.

          Politics is supposed to be about ideas, not tribal allegence

          • Gwilym Selwood

            Rubbish. This comment could only come from those who don’t really espouse anything of any value other than the accumulation of money, possessions and the “*** you I’m alright Jack” selfish mentality which is nearly all that passes for conservative values. For the rest of us everything is political including culture. You simply can’t deny that feminism, environmentalism, socialism, Fabianism , Thatcherism (!) or monetarism don’t have a political element regardless of whether you believe in them or not. Societies ( Thatcher was wrong they exist !) are always deeply political and that is all wrapped up in the abiding culture of their time.

          • global city

            You missed my point, though I’ll take that as my inability to get it written down properly.

            What I was getting at is the ‘tradition’ of voting for the same party, no matter how things change. Tribal loyalty, especially an arms length one is supremely foolish.

        • Gwangi

          ‘your lot’
          I have no ‘lot’ or tribe or mob. I know it’s hard for the likes of you to comprehend that, but you see I think for myself and am absolutely independent. That’s why I can see so clearly what a scam and a sham the Welsh Assembly government is.

      • justejudexultionis

        ‘in a wee racist and swivel-eyed nationalistic sort of way ‘ —

        As opposed to your British Nationalist imperialism (invasion of Iraq) and willingness to hand British sovereignty over to unaccountable multinational corporations and parasite capitalist speculators?

        The unionist parties have failed Wales, just like they failed Scotland.

        • Gwangi

          Idiot. Nationalist. Racist.
          It is NOT the Unionist parties failing in Wales but the LABOUR Welsh Assembly government. Scotland has its own government already too – and that has failed Scotland. Your pretend vote for independence is for no such thing – it is to become an outpost of the EU ruled by multinationals in Brussels.
          You Scots Nats make me giggle. You cannae stop celebrating silly wars and battles of 300 or 700 years ago, where some upper-class murderer like Robert the Bruce killed to get his crown then fought other aristocrats for the right to exploit land and the people on it. But then you waffle on and on about Iraq – which a LABOUR government voted in largely by SCOTTISH votes embarked upon!
          The Scottish government and the votes of the Scottish people have supported what you talk about as much as English or Welsh votes.
          A vote for the SNP is a vote for a socialist one party state in Scotland and for making that country bankrupt. That’s why women, who dislike gambling and dangerous risks, will vote overwhelmingly NO, and why the less educated, lower class, drunken unemployed pipe-dreaming whisky-swigging romantic drunks in Glasgow’s worst areas will vote overwhelmingly YES.

          • Wessex Man

            While I like your style, I should say erm, that I joined in a UK Wide DNA mapping programme a few years ago and my DNA came back only as Anglo Saxon, the map showing different groupings showed that the same strain as mine were particularly strong in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

            A note from history that should amuse you or not is that both Robert the Bruce and his father were in the Armies of Edward that defeated the Welsh and that they both defended Carlisle against the Scots.

          • Gwangi

            Yep, but the white native British population as a whole is descended from those who lived in this land thousands of years ago.

            Mixed with some Anglo-Saxon and Viking no doubt (though far fewer immigrants than some people think came here – Normans were 1% of the population, if that, but had the power).

            But the Scots and Welsh nationalist fantasy that all original Britons went to Wales and Scotland and the Anglo-Saxons replaced them utterly in England is piffle. Utter fantasy. Racist, tribal, dangerous, untrue, and nationalistic, and a throwback to 19th century divisive ideas of nationality based on purity of blood, which fragmented Europe a century ago.

            The Welsh border is long and porous, and moreover, most Welsh people have English ancestors in the last 200 years. Ditto for Scotland, which anyway is made up of immigrants – Irish, Viking, Anglo-Saxon.

            Interesting about Robert the Bruce. The Scots hero worship of such people reminds me of how Muslims adore and revere their prophet and kind of forget all the bad bits (that of being a murderous warlord who sleeps with 6 year old girls etc).

        • global city

          blablah, blah, blah, bladeeblahblablah!

      • Shazza

        Never, ever forget the Reign of Terror 1997-2010

        LABOUR – THE PARTY OF MASS DESTRUCTION

      • Jambo25

        Only loons like yourself drone on about genetics and DNA. The rest of us realise that national culture is just that culture. Half my family were Irish. There’s also a bit of English and a smidgin of Central European Jewish on my dad’s side but I consider myself 100% Scottish. I now feel little or no sense of British identity. My wife was born English with almost total English antecedents but she now feels little or no English/British identity either.

  • Gwilym Selwood

    The Celts have always been more egalitarian but its also the case that the well educated people in Scotland and Wales and also great many educated people at every social strata in England have just become totally sick and disgusted with the destruction of the economy,the NHS and public services by the moral bankruptcy and rapacious greed of the conservatives. THe Wellfare state has been overwhelmingly effective but this has unfortunately had the effect of making the electorate well off and healthy enough to forget the pre war years when there was little opposition to the tories and conditions were lamentable. The foodbanks are back.That in iteself is absolutely deplorable.

  • Ella007

    Many people seem worried and it has been said that a vote for UKIP in the General Election 2015 might let Labour into No 10.

    NOT TRUE! YOUR VOTE FOR UKIP WILL COUNT.

    To allay fears I came across this little gem from Jon Smith on John Redwoods (Con MP) diary February 18, 2014

    REMEMBER THIS WAS BEFORE THE LANDSLIDE VICTORY OF UKIP IN THE MAY ELECTIONS!

    “UKIP don’t need to be in power in Westmi…nster; they just need to hold the balance of power in Westminster.

    Predictions are that 2015 will be another hung Parliament. There are already murmurings in the press that Clegg will side with Miliband in that event. Cameron is relying on his (doubtless to be reneged on) promise that a Tory majority will see us have an in/out vote, since the other two parties killed the Bill in the Lords last month.

    However, the LibDems lost their eighth (I think) deposit last week and UKIP trumped the Tories, coming second. In a Parliamentary election… Granted, it was a safe Labour seat and the majority was similar to usual (despite the usual continued suspicions regarding Labours relationship with the postal vote system).

    If the LibDems are demolished in 2015 as much as they have been in local and by-elections since 2010 and both the Tories and Labour continue to haemorrhage voters to UKIP as they are doing then, come 2015, it could very well be Farage and not Clegg that ultimately decides whether the Tories or Labour form a three- not two-party coalition or try to govern in a minority single party government or two-party coalition. Either way, that would lead to a very prompt referendum, changes to immigration policy, etc. because to deny it further would see UKIP either walking out of coalition and bringing down the government or hammering any legislative attempts in the Commons whilst being all over the media explaining why everything is at a standstill.

    Government would be effectively hamstrung unless UKIP got their way.

    They don’t need to be in power, just hold the balance – and they wouldn’t need that big a representation in the Commons to do that.”

    • Tim Baker

      It depends on which constituency you live in.

    • Wessex Man

      the Tories are already talking amongst themselves and predicting THEY will lose 18 seats to UKip, Glory Days!

  • jesseventura2

    Have you seen the size of Edwina Hart and some of the other Rhodri fat ladies?
    A donkey taken from Porthcawl beach wearing a labour rosette would do a better job than some of the clowns voted in such as the nonentities from Bridgend and Ogmore to name just two?
    Tell us something the unprincipled opportunist Kinnocks did for Wales?

  • barry

    Who pays you to write this shit?

    • Gwangi

      Well not the taxpayer – who pays for the Welsh Assembly and goodness knows how many mediocre Welsh writers to write much much worse…

      No man is an island. Except maybe you, Barry…

      Hee hee…

      • Gwilym Selwood

        HI Barry – you’re not an lsland and you’re not alone

    • global city

      Barry…from the Rhonda… SOLID Labour, like

  • barry

    Who pays you to write this shit?

  • Gwangi

    One thing that exists in Wales (and other provincial places like Scotland and northern England) is the way the whole place is ruled by (usually taxpayer-funded) committees where the same old people sit supporting their friends and contacts, awarding them contracts and prizes, and electing them on to other committees where they can then return the favour!

    Just look at the Welsh Book of the Year – awarded earlier this week. Won by a member of the crachach, as voted for by the 3 judges (one had to be ethnic of course and female) who just happen to know the winner. Moreover, most books on the shortlist for that prize are published by state-subsidised publishing houses paid for by the exact same body that funds the Wales Book of the Year award!
    The corruption is small, maybe, but it is constant and omnipresent in Wales – because that is the way things have always been done here. It’s all a bit like a wet, sheep-infested Soviet Union, really…

    (of course, Martin Amis has never won Welsh Book of the Year award despite being born and educated here… but then, he does not write in Welsh or about Welsh issues, with stories set in Wales and wallowing in dewy-eyed nationalist puddles of valleys-set poverty-porn…)

    All explained nicely here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4754896.stm

    William’s Hague’s wife is one of the crachach.

    • global city

      It’s how the creepy Fabians go about their creepy scheme.

  • Jupiter

    Welsh people must be stupid if they keep voting Labour.

  • Richard Lewis

    The Welsh Assembly is just a token branch of Westminster…………ultimately Westminster is in charge with its London parties Labour Tory and Libs mismanaging the place over hundreds of years

    (remember it was Tories who brutally suppressed Welsh based Chartist revolts that demanded voting reforms – so much for individual freedoms!)

    Once the Worlds leading energy exporter, its wealth was drained by the few estate owners

    is it no surprise that Wales is the worlds oldest continously occupied colony – most have forgotten that it used to have more control over its own community affairs

    * (if we exclude Cornwall which lost independence in 926ad) *

    A colony is simply according to the dictionary : a country or area under the full or partial political control of another country……this is Welsh communities to a tee

    The people are so apathetic here I can smell it….without self education we are doomed to be ruled by the few forever more

    • Wessex Man

      You really are a sad person arn’t you, in case you missed it, England was occupied by the Normans in 1066, by your logic, we Anglo Saxons should be waging war on the descendants of the Normans, or the Mayans should be fighting the current populations.

      or we all could jusrt get on with our lives and ignore idiots like you.

    • Gwangi

      Wales is NOT a colony. It has full representation in the UK parliament and now has its own Assembly too, which has been responsible for faffing up the health and education systems in Wales (and now it wants tax raising powers GAWD HELP US!).
      By your definition, all of England is also a colony as it is partly under the control of a government elected by Welsh and Scottish votes.
      Eeejit.

  • Damon

    “At the root of these problems is the ferociously anti-market mentality of Welsh politicians.”

    As opposed to the fiercely market-oriented mentality of the Welsh electorate?

  • Rkd

    Surely labour must be nearly dead by now.

  • Owi Wowi

    One of the pre-devolution arguments for devolution was “variety in approaches acts as a sort of governmental competition system where methods of governance will be proved to work or not.”

    Unfortunately the bull-headedness of the electorate traps Wales with dead-end ineffective governement. The Welsh government is so dogmatic that it will not act when their favoured method refuses to work.

    The experimental question “was Maggie to blame for all our woes?” is being anwered in the negative, unfortunately most are not listening to the answer.

    I don’t think the media in Wales addresses this at all, UK national media thinks Wales is too small to include in National broadcasts and local Welsh TV is folksie -nicey-nicey just like all local TV in the UK, preferring to talk about cats up trees and fires in community halls. Not to mention their innate aversion to criticising the political party they support. When I pointed out the failure of Welsh schools to my mother she said : “The English dont give us as much money as they spend on English children” not realising that the budget is decided by Wales and has been for 15 years, also supporting Labour’s unofficial mantra “content is irrelevant, throw money at it”

    At its root though, the problem is tribalism, Labour know they will always win Welsh elections and until the Welsh will look seriously at alternatives then there is nothing doing, other than keeping England out of their bungling hands.

  • roy.adams

    To vote for either the Tories or Labour our country will continue into a spiral decline—The Tories seem to have a motto—Money to the working class is money wasted—Wales under Labour in the Welsh Assembly is also proving to be a disaster– Time for change–I have and will continue to vote for Ukip–Let us get out of Europe —We can still trade with European Counties and renew our trade with our old friends the Commonwealth–Also China, Japan and the rest of the World—Wales is in a poor state–Poor work opportunities for our youngsters–Education–High class sizes—N.H.S—Just take the opinion of Ann Clwyd—Why do I feel that as a grandfather of 3 teenagers that their opportunities in life will not reach the same standard I have been lucky enough to enjoy—We have let immigrants into our country will little or no vetting of suitability—No we in Britain and Wales badly need a change in direction.–Who would have fought that so many places in Britain, would so many have to rely on food kitchens to get enough to eat because they have insufficient money to live.

  • Swansea_Jack

    It is also worth noting that there are very few Independent Schools in Wales (due to the rampant socialism which means not supporting Labour is likely to lead to all sorts of problems) – but the public sector sponges in Wales have worked out a better way of getting a better, privileged education for their own kids.

    “What do they do?” I hear you say..

    Well, they send their kids to Welsh language schools. Even if the parents don’t speak Welsh – they send their kids to the local Welsh school. It’s a form of apartheid – but totally acceptable to the Welsh government.

    Why do they do this?

    By doing this they avoid having to mix with the scum off the local sink estates (of which there are many).

    They get to mix with the kids of other people from a similar economic class. Lots of sons and daughters of public officials, doctors, people in the know…

    I don’t have any figures to hand – but I would expect they get much better results than the bog-standard English speaking comp in Wales.

    My wife’s cousin is a GP. So is her husband. Imagine the pay packet there…

    Where do their kids go? The local Welsh language school of course. She also confirmed my suspicion that the parents of the kids there are much more likely to be public officials, higher income and education types.

    Nice system isn’t it. Shit schools for the plebs – and a state paid for elite set-up for the kids of the Welsh politburo.

    Nice work if you can get it….

  • ExasperatedMe

    Booze in brewery a run up a couldn’t.

    By the way, it was Bliar who gave them devolution in the first place.

  • Pale Ryder

    I’ve found this to be a useful antidote against the superstitions of today’s liberals and progressives, formatted for smartphones: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094KY878

  • L. Nat Bean

    Since we, like our ancestors a century ago, are unable to predict civilization a century from now, it is foolish to think that civilization’s advance simply depends upon applying today’s knowledge and ideas.

  • Gwilym Selwood

    I’m growing so weary of right wing nonsense. It won’t go unoposed. This article written by a schoolboy failure debases the generally excellent world class work done by dedicated, qualified and professional public sector workers without much justification. Who is he anyway? Can his “achievements” ever stack up to those who save thousands of lives every year or continually advance the education of the next generation of Welsh achievers? If he really believes the rubbish in his article why can’t he take the some initiative or ownership and volunteer at a Welsh hospital or a school to improve services.

    I’ve become aware that there is a much deeper disconnect in all Conservatives. The kindness that they show to those they know is just not carried on to the rest of humanity – they are blinkered and myopic when it comes to collective concerns. This is why a Tory government can for example formally absolve its own Department of Health of responsibility to deliver healthcare or implement welfare changes that they know full well will result in the return of foodbanks or allow a 150x factor of salary difference between the poorest and richest. This institutionalised selfishness of which they are so proud then results in a criminal failure to discharge the duty of care in government. In Mental Health Services where my partner works the consequences probably equate to manslaughter.

    If public services are wanting, they should be be benchmarked and improved with funding from progressive taxation. Amazingly, instead of supporting cooperation and acknowledging the freedoms and capital of all kinds that shared resources bring, tories just whine on the sidelines , obsessed with individualism, wealth and themselves, impotent to act for all, monkeying with collective efforts that they benefit from and unwittingly rely on but don’t understand. Indignant to the end, they witlessly vandalise and destroy in moments benevolent institutions that have been put in place over decades by assemblies of far more noble and public spirited minds for the benefit of all.

    If I wasn’t so concerned about future generations I sometimes feel that if a complacent and apolitical electorate are not going to actively support the world class public service provision they receive at the ballot box, they should be taxed in proportion to their opposition to it.

  • rtj1211

    Democracy says that the people elect their representatives.

    Time for Welsh people to choose a different manifesto if everything is so terrible.

    It’s not devolution that has given you ‘bad misgovernment’ if that is what it is, it is the leaders elected in a devolved assembly.

  • Raj Err

    Each of us should recognize that, in the fight for liberty, knowledge is our most potent weapon. Arm yourself: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094KY878

  • Al Egro

    While the liberty school believes in democratic processes, it also recognizes that attempts to usurp and wield absolute power in the name of fleeting majorities are illegitimate.

  • The Grumpy Old Welshman

    Our Mr C Gage has created quite a debate on Wales. To crystallise the debate I suggest firstly that we abandon all thoughts of England and Westminster. Secondly, join UKIP to oust the current regime at “The Skate Egg Greenhouse” at Cardiff Bay. Thirdly, remove the nine layers of government in Wales and to spend the money where it is most needed. Only then can we grow Wales, something the silent unrepresented majority of Welsh people want. Lewas ap Foote.

  • Chris Edwards

    If you leave the EU as UKiP wants to then Wales will be finished,there´s loads of EU money just waiting to be spent on Wales and without it you can bet that It will only get worse.At the moment you can go to any Country in the EU and look for work,without the EU Wales will have a much harder job to get back on its feet!

    The money´s just waiting to be collected,grab it and rebuild small industries or holiday resorts etc……… http://wales.gov.uk/funding/eu-funding/eu-funds-2014-2020/?lang=en

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