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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December, 2004, 20:06 GMT
New politics 'failing' - Plaid MP

By Mark Palmer
BBC Wales Political Unit

Adam Price MP
Adam Price said devolution had not transformed Welsh politics
Devolution has not delivered and Wales is becoming more centralist, Plaid Cymru's Adam Price has claimed in the latest BBC Wales Regeneration lecture.

Speaking at Cardiff University, the MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr said he feared that the new politics of Wales was not working.

"Devolution was supposed to be the catalyst for this new kind of politics," he said.

"Sadly it has failed to transform the culture of politics.

"What we are witnessing unfortunately is a growing concentration of power in the hands of the executive.

"In slavishly following the Westminster model, our democracy in Wales has imported all the worst features of the Westminster charade: the near-complete concentration of power in the hands of the executive, with an assembly symbolically important, but in reality increasingly irrelevant."

The manner of the announcement... carries with it a strong suggestion of a policy of not deepening democracy but of creeping centralisation.
Adam Price MP

On the recent bonfire of the quangos, Mr Price also questioned the lack of debate under Rhodri Morgan's government.

"The reform of the quango state has been presented, and generally accepted as enhancing democratic accountability.

"Whatever the merits or demerits of the policy, the manner of the announcement, a fait accompli presented without discussion, deliberation or debate, carries with it a strong suggestion of a policy of not deepening democracy but of creeping centralisation."

Rhodri Morgan
Rhodri Morgan was accused of centralising power in Wales

Speaking at a BBC Wales Regeneration lecture earlier this year, the First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, reinforced his notion of "clear red water" when he said he was determined to improve public services in Wales in a different way than England.

Mr Morgan believed Welsh people wanted services that were "designed to improve the quality of life for all" and that he wanted more co-operation between providers and the public, rather than treating people as consumers.

According to Mr Price, Rhodri Morgan's "clear red water" is "nothing less than a philosophy of governance, which marks a clear breach with the market-state ideology of New Labour as seen in Westminster".

He said the first minister was trying to give a definitive and distinctive Welsh response to the debate over the roles of state and market. But he said that this was largely irrelevant.

'Right wing press'

"The debate in Wales has never been about public-versus-private. If the choice of services is between the state and the market, the vast majority of Welsh people will opt unhesitatingly for the state because they prefer a public service ethos to the profit motive.

"In Wales, the debate has been about what kind of state, and what kind of market we want to develop.

"It's not about public-versus-private, state-versus-market. It's between central direction and local autonomy in public services, between a pluralist or a dirigiste approach to the state."

A Welsh Labour spokesperson said: "If Mr Price spent less time with Tories and the right wing press in London and more time in his own constituency, he would see the real benefits which Labour's partnership in Westminster and Cardiff is delivering to hard-working families.

"Labour is proud of Wales, with a record investment in public services and more people in work than ever before.

"All his party can do is talk Wales down to hide their divisions."

The next Regeneration Lecture will be given by the Labour MEP Glenys Kinnock at the end of January.

If you would like tickets please email regen@bbc.co.uk




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Adam Price MP
The events of recent weeks have convinced me of the need for a response to the grand vision of goverance for Wales that Rhodri Morgan has set out



END OF THE QUANGOS

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