Professor Paul Milbourne

Jan 302014
 

Monday saw the unveiling of the Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) by First Minister Carwyn Jones. Or maybe it was last May. Or was it November 2012? Perhaps it was mentioned in the Act of Incorporation of 1536. Whatever, the PPIW is a group made up mainly of academics, and expected to “give ministers fresh ideas on how to improve Wales’ public services”. These academics will be doing their day jobs in the universities at Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Liverpool and Swansea, plus the London School of Economics. The academics of Cardiff will run the show, to ensureCarwyn Jones 3 that Cardiff continues to rip off the rest of the country enjoy the benefits of its capital status.

I can see the sense in involving the LSE, but Liverpool? Is it to offer advice on the north east? Perhaps to implement the takeover of that corner of the country proposed by the Mersey Dee Alliance, and backed by civil servants and local government chiefs . . . until the plan became public? Has the ‘Welsh’ Government forgotten that there is a university now in Wrecsam? Does it matter, because the academics involved on both sides of the border will, in the main, be English.

As I’ve explained in recent posts, the ‘Welsh ‘ Government is already taking orders from London departments and their civil servants, plus agencies such as the Planning Inspectorate; then there’s the self-serving ‘advice’ from the scroungers of the Third Sector. Talking of which, I note that the Bevan Foundation is also to be involved with PPIW. Which probably explains why a few high-profile Labour politicians recently resigned as Trustees of the Foundation. Can’t have a Labour administration giving work and funding to an organisation too obviously linked to the Labour Party.

What a way to run a country! A collection of weaklings masquerading as a ‘Government’, taking orders from those they claim no longer have authority in Wales, while also seeking ‘advice’ from cronies whose only motivation is milking the public purse. Didn’t we used to have politicians of vision, who would tell civil servants: ‘Here’s my idea, you lot come up with the nuts and bolts to make it work’. Labour in Wales reveres Aneurin Bevan – was the National Health Service the idea of his civil servants, or was it his vision that he made civil servants implement?

This problem of unimaginative, weak, time-serving politicians being manipulated by those who should be serving them is not confined to the ‘Welsh’ Government. We also see it at local government level, as we were reminded today with the release of the Wales Audit Office report into curious payments in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

Though I am not suggesting that Dr. Elizabeth Haywood, Chair of the City Regions Task and Finish Group, is a Labour crony. Yet her Report, completed in 2012, did strike me as totally superfluous, seeing as city regions were already a done deal. Decided by, among others, the Cardiff and County Club, some 20 years ago. Be that as it may, Doctor Haywood fulfilled her alloted role and dutifully confirmed the desperate need for a Cardiff city region (and wondered how Wales had survived this long without it), recommended a Swansea city region in the hope of disguising Cardiff’s takeover of the south east, and she also advised acceptance of the Mersey Dee Alliance plan for the north east – i.e. Clwyd should be swallowed up by Liverchester. So, pray tell, who is this woman given a totally pointless – but publicly funded – job? Who is She who can, with a few taps on her keyboard, recommend the dismemberment of our ancient homeland? Of course! she is none other than Mrs Peter Hain . . . though you wouldn’t know that from any reports in the Welsh media.

Another concern that has me pacing my bedroom all night is the future of the Wales Rural Observatory. I did a post on the WRO on September 17, 2012, on my Google Blogger site; now, sadly, demised by those lovers of free speech (and conscientious payers of tax) at Google. Fortunately, Stuart Evans (WelshnotBritish) had saved my posts, minus comments, in RSS format, which explains why you can still read it. Though the WRO website seems to have been re-written, and is now less open about the fact that the WRO is funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government to come up with original and mind-blowing findings – e.g. rural Wales has an ageing population, it’s handy to have a caPaul Milborner if you live in the countryside, etc. Another change I noticed was that the home page now carries a video by the WRO’s Director, Professor Paul Milbourne, reading from a script, and explaining what his organisation does. The video is dated October 22, 2012, just five days after my original post. I do hope it was nothing I said!

So where does the Wales Rural Observatory stand vis-a-vis the new Public Policy Institute for Wales? Will the WRO be allowed to carry on with its ground-breaking research into the more bucolic aspects of Welsh life, leaving the PPIW to focus on urban areas? Or will there be a turf war, two gangs of English academics, both funded by the ‘Welsh’ Government, fighting it out to prove which of them knows the least about our country and cares the less about us? Do we need both? Do we need either one? Should we have to suffer any?

Legislation is being forced on Wales to which this ‘Welsh’ Government is neither mother nor father. It is not even the midwife, or the nanny. It is nothing more than a slow-witted serving girl from the village, left holding the baby in the hope that people will believe it’s hers. And now this ‘serving girl’ is to be handed more ‘babies’. And she will do exactly as she is told . . . then say ‘thank you’, and probably curtsey!

This is not devolution. This is not democracy.