Saturday, August 11, 2012

Should it be a 'Welsh Parliament'.

Mr Andrew RT Davies, Leader of the Conservative Assembly Group is beginning to make his mark on Wales. Last week, he set about raising a few eyebrows. He will have engaged widely with his frankness in making public the difficulty he found reading as a young boy. People like honest and open politicians. And he was not afraid to make clear his disagreement with the cancellation of last year's Welsh Conservative Conference. Again its the lack of pretence that impresses. Andrew's not afraid to say it as he sees it.  He didn't agree, and felt comfortable saying so.

But much the most interesting, eyebrow-raising statement he made last week was that he believes the National Assembly for Wales should be renamed the Welsh Parliament. Its probably best if I don't express any firm opinion on this, while I'm a PPS in the Wales Office. But a couple of things do occur to me. While there may be some resistance to a legal change of name, there is nothing to prevent Andrew RT asking all of his AMs to use the term 'Welsh Parliament' whenever they have the chance. If all AMs, across all parties actually referred always to the 'Welsh Parliament', that's what it would be - no matter what it says on some legal document. In fact, I've sometimes used the term myself when seeking to differentiate between the 'UK Parliament' and the 'Welsh Parliament'.

Perhaps more interesting is why the still new leader of the Conservative Group has decided to make an issue of this. Its clear that he wants the Conservatives in Wales to stand very proud of its 'Welshness' - and rightly so. Following the granting to the National Assembly of the power to pass law, Andrew sees it as a 'Parliament'. None of this surprises me. Not today anyway. I've known Andrew a long time, and it might have surprised me 10 yrs ago. But, like me and others, he's realised that along with devolution came a new awareness of 'Welshness'. I've always thought that regional distinctiveness is important, particularly when the 'region' is a nation. Across the world, its a right-of-centre philosophy. Yes, Andrew RT Davies is proving to be an astute and interesting leader.


Anonymous said...


Maybe this is soemthing that you should consider when you eventually succeed Cheryl as SoS?


Amanwy said...

As you say, he's changed a lot in 10 years. I remember interviewing the both of you together when you were making the case for further powers and he was advocating the abolition of the Assembly!

SiƓnnyn said...

I welcome this bold statement from RT, but I can't help detecting a bit of political spinning going on here. Nick Bourne, and David Melding, post Devolution, managed to re-mould the tories in Wales as a particularly Welsh party. It worked well. But RT has been moving the other way. Re-branding it as the party of the English in Wales. However, this proclamation, which coasts him nothing, does serve to make your party look a bit less English. Clever move!

Anonymous said...

Your excuse on not saying anything because you're a PPS is ridiculous as you place comment on almost anything from organ donation to Lords reform.

But reading between the lines I think you agree with him. And rightly so:

For those who read about devolution a change of name is pointless. Being called an Assembly is no different from being called a Parliament or Senate.

However for those who DON'T read about devolution (which I'd say is the majority of Wales). They think an Assembly is a lower body compared to Scotlands Parliament. And it's almost an attitude of 'they can't effect me'. There is also confusion between the term Welsh Assembly Government and National Assembly. People think they're the same.

So because, in the UK we are used to the terms Parliament and Government. I suggest we should change the name of the Assembly asap. The excuse that it is a lengthy piece of legislation is ridiculous. If you keep GoWA exactly the same, just change the term Assembly - then it needn't need a big vote in Westminster. I just want it for clarity sake and to put Wales on an equal terminology basis as Scotland.

Your boss therefore has 2 options:
1. to block it. allow the story to run for months. make civil servants send loads of emails about it. get asked about it each time she's in Wales.


2. Do a quick amendment to GoWA. It it doesn't give more powers to the Assembly then it won't clash with her unionist credentials. It all seems to me like 1998 all over again where they wanted Assembly Secretaries not Ministers to make them sound less important. How pathetic.

It seems to me inevitable that the term will change as was Hain was forced to with GoWA. So if I was Cheryl I'd go with it, or commit that the new GoWA after Silk (which will be inevitable) will change it.

Nevertheless, I agree Glyn that the law may not need to be changed. If all political parties came together and agreed it to be called Parliament. Change the signs and letter heads in the Assembly. Eventually people will call it this (as was the case with WAG in 2003).

I just want it for clarity nothing else!

Anonymous said...

"I've always thought that regional distinctiveness is important, particularly when the 'region' is a nation. Across the world, its a right-of-centre philosophy."

Totally agree, hopefully we'll get a Raibow coaliton next time around!

mairede thomas said...

As there are law making powers it is a parliament. I'm sure this is also what most people in this Country would aspire to, regardless of their political beliefs or feelings towards other nations, that is what they voted for.

NitroTab said...

People call it the Welsh Government now so I agree for clarity sake that the Assembly should be renamed to Parliament.

We voted for primary law making powers so now the name should change to reflect that.

Anonymous said...

Yes a Parliament but can we not call it Senedd?