Journal Column – 1st June

In the age of permanent campaigning and 24 hour media, politics never stands still. The historic referendum victory of March already feels like an age away. The debate around the next step of devolution has already begun. This might seem a strange statement considering that the new Welsh Government is solely managed by the Labour party, a party that fought the recent Welsh General Election on the visionless basis of no more powers.

However, due to the asymmetric nature of devolution within the British state, events in Scotland and Northern Ireland will impact upon Wales whether the Welsh Government under Labour likes it or not. Last week a powerful House of Commons Select Committee gave the green light to the devolution of corporation tax to Northern Ireland. Whilst Alex Salmond on receiving his overwhelming mandate in the Scottish General Election has been demanding financial justice for his country from a Westminster Government bending over backwards to halt the march of our Celtic brothers towards their political freedom. The devolution of corporation tax is high on the SNP wish list along with powers over the crown estate, excise and duty and a fair cut of North Sea oil revenue.

In Wales, we now have a Calman like process which will examine amongst other matters how the Welsh Government is funded. Central to this process must be reform of the Barnett formula which has served our country so poorly over the decades. Undoubtedly the end result will be greater financial autonomy in terms of taxation and borrowing powers for the Welsh Government. I will also be pressing for the devolution of corporation tax powers and other job creating leavers so that we also have the power to give our economy a competitive advantage and give us parity with Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The first few weeks of the new Welsh Government does not bode well. The general malaise that surrounds the new Administration contrasts poorly with the vibrancy of the Plaid driven One Wales years – when it was clear that Wales was on the move.

The nature of the British state is changing. Those politicians that stand as a roadblock are out of step with reality. We need leaders with a clear vision to make sure our communities get the best deal out of this rapidly changing landscape.

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