True Wales, Big Lies #2

This is a sort of addendum to my last post.

One of the things that the anti-devolution group True Wales states is one of its principals is that any application to draw down Legislative Competence Orders from the United Kingdom Government should reflect the wishes of the majority of the Welsh people.

As a democrat I tend to agree with this principal. But it is a principal that raises the age old question of how a democracy can reflect the view of the majority (without oppressing the right of the minority).

The standard practice in these Islands is by electing politicians to act on behalf of those who elect them. Not a perfect system, but one, as Churchill once said is, the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.

The democratically elected body in Wales, the body that best represents the wishes of the majority of Welsh people is the Assembly. So according to True Wales' own principals Westminster should NEVER oppose an LCO, because every request for competence reflects the wishes of the majority of those elected to represent the wishes of the people of Wales.

Under the current system the Secretary of State for Wales can block an LCO. Does the current Secretary of State reflect the views of the majority of Welsh voters? Ma by ma by not! However he is not elected to his position by the people of Wales. He was elected by fewer than one in sixty of the total Welsh electorate. (One in sixty more than his shadow, and probable successor, who has only been voted for by the people of Chesham and Amersham).

Under the current system the Welsh Affairs Select Committee can also block LCO's (as it has done and will surely do gain). But the Committee doesn't reflect the majority view of Welsh People, as True Wales wishes, it reflects the make up of the House of Commons, with the Labour Party as the majority and the Conservatives as the second largest party (including the member for The Wrekin to make up for the paucity of Welsh Conservative members). The Liberal democrats and Plaid Cymru only have token members. Plaid's token membership is based on its association with the SNP. If Plaid and the SNP didn't ally themselves to be a single parliamentary group, there would be no Plaid member on the Committee.

Even when Wales decided not to elect a single Tory MP in 1979 the Tories were still the second largest group on the Welsh Affairs Committee! Truly representative of Welsh views? I doubt it.

If True Wales want the Assembly to have draw down legislation that reflects the wishes of the majority of Welsh people they should give the Assembly every competence under the Government of Wales Act and support the YES vote campaign. If they oppose any competence being given to Wales they should say so and stop their lying and their posturing as the democratic voice of Wales that they, most certainly, are not.


  1. “The democratically elected body in Wales, the body that best represents the wishes of the majority of Welsh people is the Assembly.”

    That is a very subjective statement to make though isn’t it? One which I find to hard to see how anyone could prove at the kind of level that couldn’t be countered.

    Paraphrasing Don Touhig is perhaps not the most sensible thing for me to do on a nationalist blog; but he is accurate to suggest that the votes cast for Welsh Labour MPs far outweigh what all the AMs received. How Welsh MPs votes are not a democratic expression of Welsh people is something you will have to explain? Why is a vote in a Westminster election worth less than a vote for an AM?

    The problem, and a key reason for my support for a full Welsh Parliament, is that this current system is a malaise of accountability and competence; a real dogs dinner. It does seem perverse to think that a committee of Welsh MPs can stop the WAG asking for legislation, but to suggest that the Welsh Assembly is the most representative body of the people of Wales is demonstrably wrong and inaccurate on any semblance of measure. The economic crisis has showed how little the Welsh Assembly can matter to people’s lives, and the vote count in the different elections clearly show Westminster is seen in the public conscience as THE election. This may, I hope, with a yes vote to a full welsh parliament – but facts are facts.

  2. The point is, Marcus, that I am represented by one constituency AM and four regional AM's in the Assembly. My MP isn't a member of the Welsh Affairs select committee.

    The membership of the WASC is representative of the overall membership of the UK parliament. Labour is the biggest group because it is the biggest group in Westminster, the Conservatives are the second largest group because they are the second largest party in the UK. Plaid only gets a seat because of the "joint value" of the Plaid SNP group.

    In 1997, when Wales chose not to elect a single Conservative MP, the Conservatives were still the second largest party on the WASC. If there is no change in Welsh representation in the next Westminster election, but the SNP take half the Scottish seats, Plaid could get an extra seat on the WASC.

    The WASC isn't a committee of Welsh MPs. Mark Pritchard the member for the Wreaking is a member of the committee. Mr Pritchard's "value" on the committee is equal to that of 10 elected Assembly Members and 15 Welsh MPs.

    As Wales is a part of the United Kingdom there may be Unionist arguments that justify such an arrangement - but none that appeal to my understanding of fair play and democracy.

  3. You still cannot answer the question, or indeed face up the reality that many more people vote for their MPs, and that your belief that the NaW is THE democratic institution is just inaccurate.

  4. Sorry Marcus.

    I can understand where you are coming from. In the last Westminster Election my MP (Betty Williams) got 14561 votes. In 2007 my AM (Gareth Jones) only got 7986 votes. So Betty has a better mandate than Gareth.

    What I don't understand is what this has got to do with the WASC or the Secretary of state for Wales.

    As an Assembly Member Gareth has 1/60th of an Assembly say on eLCO's. With almost twice his vote Betty has NO say on eLCO's because she is not on the Committee!

    If (when) the Conservatives win the next Westminster election the MP for Chesham and Amersham will be able to block any eLCO on a whim - when she does that to a Labour policy will you still try to justify the situation by saying that MPs get more votes than AMs?

  5. And just another small point. The Westminster part of the eLCO system means that Orders have to be passed by the House of Lords, The Privy Council and The Queen. Do you seriously believe that they are more representative of Welsh democracy than the National Assembly?

  6. Alwyn,

    You make perfectly reasonable points regarding the WASC, i was merely concerned at your apparent disregard for the MPs mandate.