Friday, March 20, 2009

End of a very silly game.

Very good news for those of you who are sick and tired of me going on about the shenanigans that have followed the misguided decision by the Assembly Government to propose that the power to abolish the right-to-buy be transferred from Westminster to Cardiff Bay. Its over - for now anyway. The 'playing to the gallery' that accompanied the original announcement by the Assembly's Deputy Minister with responsibility for housing (though not by her to be fair) has given way to this humiliating climbdown. The proposals will now have to be redrafted, (I assume without the power to abolish the right-to-buy), and the whole drawn out process started again. I cannot see Paul Murphy, Secretary of State for Wales accepting the humiliation that would be involved in withdrawal of his 'veto' over the right-to-buy abolition.

Turns out that the transfer of power wouldn't have made a lot of difference anyway. There was never any intention to abolish the right-to-buy. That was just a 'macho', eye-catching gesture - or worse (a tactic to demonstate that the current constitutional position is failing). And the power to deliver more affordable housing in Wales has been rendered largely irrelevant by the collapse in the ability of potential buyers to secure a mortgage. Neither would there be much scope to increase the supply of social housing - because of the massive cutbacks in public spending that are facing local authorities and the Assembly Government over the foreseeable future. The real damage that this saga will have done is not to the provision of more affordable housing in Wales, but to the power transfer system incorporated in the 2006 Government of Wales Act more generally.

I hope that the fiasco over the proposal to transfer power over housing (the Legislative Competence Order) will ensure a more conciliatory approach to the process of transferring power to the Assembly in future. It is so damaging to the devolution 'process' that the already complex system is made worse by completely unnecessary dispute.


Draig said...

In one respect you're absolutely right Glyn. The whole thing is a mess. And I don't think it discredits just the Devolutionary process, I think it discredits Representative democracy per se.

I think the deeper problem is not the LCO system, but GOWA 2006, as the LCO system is just a part of that Act. We need a Scottish style parliament, not this bureaucratic tinkering.

I thought it was very interesting to read in the Western Mail today that a few groups - Sustainable Wales, The Parliament for Wales Campaign, and Cynefin y Werin - have decided to form an alliance for radical change, and want a lawmaking Parliament with a more Participatory style that gives ordinary people a real say.

The danger we face today is that complacency, arrogance and widespread institutional corruption in the political establishment will lead to a collapse of confidence in Representative Democracy.

There are alternatives however - one of them is Participatory Democracy - the other is Fascism. Which will people choose?

Glyn Davies said...

draig - I'm with you on most of this - though I'm increasingly concerned about the term Scottish style Parliament. It gives a wrong impression of what is on offer - even if we move to part 4 of the 2006 Governmnet of Wales Act. It would be nothing like as powerful as the Scottish Parliament.