Devolution, the placebo that no longer works


I suppose most people reading this know what a placebo is, but for those who aren’t certain . . . a placebo is something given instead of a medicine or treatment and is intended to fool the person receiving it into believing they are taking a medicine or receiving treatment.

In other words, the patient or guinea pig is given something that won’t really do them any good. Understandably, once they realise they’re being given a placebo then its usefulness is gone.


Let’s start by reminding ourselves that devolution wasn’t a gift from Heaven, it was not promised in the Labour manifesto of 1997 because those offering it thought it would be good for Scotland and Wales. No, it was offered because it served England’s (perceived) interests.

Also, let’s not forget the Irish dimension; for to support a fragile peace process there was also an imperative to set up a Northern Ireland Assembly. In fact, this desire formed part of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Act (1998). For good measure London was also included in the package to make it look like a sincere attempt to devolve power from Westminster.

In reality, Tony Blair’s Labour government gave devolution to London confident that the Assembly would always have a Labour majority, to the Six Counties because of US pressure, and to Scotland and Wales as a placebo to ‘national aspirations’ which was safeguarded, so it was believed, by an electoral system (certainly in Scotland) that made it difficult for any one party to achieve an absolute majority.


But as we’ve seen, the ‘no majority’ system has failed, and the Scottish National Party has used its majority in the Scottish Parliament to improve standards and conditions in all manner of ways. But what of Wales?

Things are different in Wales for one very obvious reason. While Scotland has a political party and a government determined to improve the country, we have languished for twenty years under successive Labour and Labour-led administrations that have simply masked the old system of neglecting Wales unless she can be exploited.

A very recent and still emerging example would be the National Development Framework (NDF) produced a few months ago by the ‘Welsh Government’. I mention the NDF because it’s a “20-year spatial plan” for the whole country, all other plans are subsidiary to it.

I wrote about the National Development Framework in August, in a post of the same name. In the NDF we read that much of rural Wales outside of the national parks is to be ‘rewilded’, given over to a new ‘national forest’, or else covered in wind turbines and solar complexes.

From the National Development Framework. Click to enlarge

This of course allows the ‘Welsh Government’ to virtue signal madly that ‘Wales’ is making its contribution to saving the planet. In reality, Wales is being lined up for a coat of Greenwash that will be welcomed by the City and others as a money-making wheeze, while Wales provides even more of England’s electricity.

Of course, we’ve suffered wind turbines for a couple of decades, but what’s interesting in the NDF is that it explores new ways to exploit our uplands. The two articles below, one from the Times and the other from Llais y Sais, will help explain what I mean.

Click to enlarge

The piece from the Times stresses the carbon-absorbing value of mountains and moorlands while the Western Mail article talks of planting trees on grazing land. Wales of course has plenty of mountains, moorland and grazing land, and if these are to be monetised then we can guarantee that ‘investors’ and others will profit from Welsh land.

All this will be facilitated by the ‘Welsh Government’. Playing the role it adopted with unseemly alacrity when presented with the Summit to Sea scam. For ‘Welsh’ Labour hates farmers more than perhaps any other sector of the population.

When it hasn’t been punishing rustics for not voting Labour the party has been building up an army of cronies to run the ‘poverty industry’. The third sector capitalises on Welsh deprivation with no intention of bringing relief or remedy because to do so would mean an end to the public funding sustaining thousands of well-paid – but usually unnecessary – jobs.

So we see that ‘Welsh’ Labour is quite happy to serve as London’s management team in Cardiff, and equally content to see Wales decline. Then, even at Assembly elections, Labour can heard bewailing Wales’ deprivation and insisting that voters ‘Send a message to London’.

Though what sending a message to London about the mess Labour has made of Wales is supposed to achieve I’m not sure. Unless it’s a pat on the head for the local Labour bigwigs and the promise of seats in the House of Lords.


Anyone looking at Plaid Cymru and thinking they see a party working for Welsh independence really should pop along to the Cloud Cuckoo Land branch of Specsavers.

In truth, the thought of independence terrifies Plaid’s leadership, and others in the upper stratum of the party. For with independence comes responsibility, standing on your own two feet, and delivering measures to improve the lives of the Welsh people – for there’ll be no one else to blame.

What Plaid Cymru wants is the kind of DevoMax system I outlined in Plaid Cymru, where to now? (scroll down when you get there). In a nutshell, institutions in which a native elite of politicians, professionals and administrators can prosper. We are almost there; with a few more powers devolved to the Assembly, such as justice and policing, these desires might be satisfied.

At the moment, Plaid still gets the votes of most of those wanting independence, also those concerned with the Welsh language, nationhood and associated factors. But this constituency is losing faith or simply giving up due to the direction Plaid Cymru is taking.

The hard truth for Plaid Cymru is that no amount of fascist-hunters, or trans lobbyists, or EU zealots, or planet-savers, or any other variety of political exotica will be enough to replace the socially conservative Welsh voters being lost, often alienated by the increasing grip on the party exerted by the aforementioned.

These newer elements promote causes common to a number of political parties and pressure groups, which often means that with Plaid Cymru they’re just hedging their bets. Their interest in Plaid Cymru, and indeed Wales, is often due solely to the attractiveness of a small country with a system of devolution and a malleable political leadership.

For the upcoming general election Plaid Cymru has entered into a disastrous ‘Remainer’ pact with a Liberal Democrat Party led by a woman who loses votes every time she’s exposed to public scrutiny and a Green Party that refuses to even recognise the existence of Wales.

Image courtesy of Sunday Times. Click to enlarge

With Labour and the devolution system it brought into existence discredited there is a golden opportunity to take Wales forward to independence.

But it can’t happen because all we have is Plaid Cymru, another leftist party that would rather be the junior partner in a colonial management structure than the party – like the SNP – guiding a nation towards independence.

Or perhaps I’m being unfair on Plaid Cymru, maybe its ambition extends to being the senior partner in a colonial administration. Now there’s ambition for you!

We have reached the stage where Plaid Cymru has nothing to say on Wales and independence; and few people listen to what it has to say on other issues. The party is surviving as a political force on goodwill accumulated in a previous incarnation.


As the old saying has it: ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’

That’s the stage we’re at with devolution and the leftist hegemony in Cardiff Bay. After twenty years of declining standards I believe that a majority of people now realise that devolution isn’t working and that the blame lies in Cardiff not London.

Realising that devolution has failed explains both the increased support for abolishing the Assembly altogether and also why more of us are prepared to consider independence. With correspondingly fewer in the middle willing to defend devolution. For the ‘recognition of nationhood’ and ‘better than nothing’ arguments no longer persuade.

If returned on December 12 it’s possible that the Tories will do away with devolution in the next couple of years, not because they’re ideologically opposed to devolution – they’re not – but because they can also see that the placebo effect is wearing off.

I would probably support the abolition of the Assembly, reasoning that it might be necessary to take a step back before we can move forward. When stuck in a rut it’s often necessary to go back in order to move forward with greater momentum than took you into the rut. And let’s be honest, we walked into devolution with our eyes shut.

Click to enlarge

And for those now calling me all sorts of names I put out a simple challenge – defend devolution. (And for God’s sake, don’t insult my intelligence by arguing that things would be better with Plaid Cymru in charge.)

I have argued for a few years that Welsh independence is most likely to come about from an interplay between internal dynamics with external factors, with the latter influencing the former. And that is what we now see happening: Devolution is discredited, as are the parties most closely associated with it; while beyond our borders clouds gather, but these are clouds with silver linings, if we only we realise it.

We now need a Conservative government in London to inflict all the damage its opponents predict it will. Then we must help the Scots in their second independence referendum. Finally, we must make a push for our own independence with a broad-based movement focused solely on Wales and Welsh issues.

Which is why I shall be supporting Welsh independence on December 12 by voting for the Conservative and Unionist Party.

♦ end ♦


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Mel Morgan

A final observation: what beneficial effect, if any, did the alleged placebo of devolution in fact have?

Mel Morgan

Answers, please, on a postcard …


Tweets speak volumes about those that post them. Suzy Davies, wicked Tory, gets out and about and extols the virtues of Swansea market and supporting local business. Bethan Sayed, sits on her arse studying obscure websites and finds a woolly pully, or more likely an oil based acrylic piece of shite, and can’t think of anything more original than having a go at Jac. Bit like chucking a pebble at a fuckin’ rhino. Silly silly cow.

This kind of evidence makes no case for backing my local Tory at GE 2019, but when it comes to regional list in 2021 Cynulliad elections Ms Davies makes a good case for being at the head of the queue, while young Betsy will still be shopping online and chucking pebbles at a thickskinned old rhino in Meirionydd.


Reply to Jac
“And how would that invalidate my longer term reasoning?”

It doesn’t invalidate it.
What it does is point out that your longer term reasoning is based on your faith that your longer term reasoning is correct.
Whereas your vote being used by the Conservative and Unionist party during the next term as part of a ” will of the people” justification is a certainty.

The “will of the people” according to the Conservative and Unionist party will include refusing another Scottish referendum and promoting British identity.
I imagine there are other “will of the people” things the Tories would do that you would genuinely be OK with. Have you considered that as a self described “true Tory” it’s the inclusion of those things that actually tip the balance in their favour for you?

David Robins

Voting Tory gets you suggestions like this:

The 15 ways to save The Precious include Michael Gove as Secretary of State for the Union and some assertive intrusion into devolved matters, such as masterminding cross-border growth (business-as-usual, but without the politeness).

Vlad the Inhaler

They say as you get older your politics become more stridently right wing.
I just didn’t realise Jac was that old.


I think you missed the point. Casting a vote next week for the English Tory candidate is not a deep and lasting endorsement of the arch AngloBrit supremacist position on anything. It merely serves to give a single countervailing push against all the other crap that’s on the ballot paper. Lots of other people are minded to give similar pushes while others will do much the same in the opposite direction. Some will grow to enjoy pushing in a different direction and that may sow the seeds of realignment, long overdue, in Welsh and UK politics.

Mel Morgan

Where in the works of Frau Marx’s little boy is this dictum to be found?

Mel Morgan

Give me the reference, and it will be my duty and pleasure to pop into the National Library and check it for you.


Lenin supposedly said, ‘The worse the better’.

However that would have been his comment on the increasingly harmful effect the Tsarist empire’s actions had on the masses being linked with increasing support for a revolution from the masses.

It wasn’t Lenin declaring he was therefore going to assist the Tsarists and advocating that Bolsheviks should also do so as part of his cunning plan.

Mel Morgan

If Mrs. Ulyanov’s little boy in fact said this, then the bulk of the evidence would be against him. The worse objective conditions become, the more desperately people have to concentrate on sheer survival. Revolutionary upheavals are more likely to occur when things are improving, but not quickly enough – as both the February and October Revolutions of 1917 confirm.

Mel Morgan

You are quite right, of course, Royston Jacovich.


“I’m not advocating support for the Conservatives beyond voting for them to bring about the conditions I believe will lead to the changes I seek.”

Regardless of the faith you have in your voting strategy to deliver what you want it to. The reality is that your vote (just as any others given) is not conditional and will be used in this case by the Conservative and Unionist party to legitimise their actions for the duration of the ensuing term of the Westminster parliament.

Mel Morgan

Why did we ever abandon the patronymic system, Royston Idwalovich?


Lenin sent that message in 1917, where the Tsar rule had already been toppled.

The government in power was led by Kerensky (Mensheviks). By July 1917, the renewed offensive of the eastern front in WW1 had collapsed, there was food rioting in the cities, and in the countryside the peasants were still indentured to the aristocracy. Lenin wanted the ‘masses’ to see through the placebo of the provisional government, in order to launch a second revolution, which turned out to be successful. He argued that supported the provisional arrangements was akin to supporting the Tsar.

So in terms of use of the term do describe the placebo of devolution in Wales and say the Tories are as bad as Labour, so it makes no difference, is a correct one. Brexit is really a crisis of the United Kingdom, one way or the other, things will not be solved without dissolution of the union. Many years ago there was a slogan or the bridge nearby. It said “We vote Labour and all we get is Thatcher”. This was true then as it is now. Just the party leaders have changed.

Plaid, unfortunately, has a pact with unionists as a provisional arrangement for the existing constitution. Adam Price is the Kerensky of Welsh independence.

Unlike Adam, I am not the son of a miner educated on the student campus. I was a miner, and was politically educated in the miners library. First hand record of discussion on this topic at the time (Rhondda) is now in the archives in Aber.

Mel Morgan

Knock, knock …

Mel Morgan

Who’s there?

Mel Morgan


Mel Morgan

Lenin who?

Mel Morgan

I’m Lenin on the lamppost at the corner of the street in case a certain little lady walks by …


John Adams seems to have commented – the worse the better -back in American Revolution times in the 1770s.,&source=bl&ots=bXPP8tfV72&sig=ACfU3U32jfZ1hy_EGb0aqEaIuTlbCDXHpg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj_7te3657mAhWURMAKHWJ9DNwQ6AEwDnoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=john%20adams%20%20%E2%80%9Cthe%20worse%20the%20better%E2%80%9D%2C&f=false

I think it unlikely that John Adams or those who have used the phrase (sometimes decades before 1917 – see wiki)in the context of promoting revolution in Russia did so in order to urge supporters of their revolutions to back the anti-revolutionary establishments in order to hasten erm… revolution.

I am only the grandson of a miner but internet searches help me get over that handicap!

Mel Morgan

Were Adam Rufusovich in power, he could be the homologue of poor old Kerensky: but he isn’t.

Mel Morgan

Silly me! Of course – it was Groucho you meant.


Just to confirm. Here is a speech made at a time and by someone who inspired me to join Plaid Cymru.{removetoplay}

“Power taken away from the central power and bought closer to the people to have a real control over their own lives” – Jill Evans 1988.

I shall be voting accordingly.

Mel Morgan

Clywch, clywch!


Which means….

Susan, Brexit Party
Welsh and lives in Torfaen. Cancel HS2 in favour of Welsh railways, supports indy ref, solid working class lady, experience of working in local government, prepared to be outspoken, with conviction, puts community interests above own. Is a Brexit party candidate as a vehicle for election process but fiercely independent. Has support of local business as well as other sections of community. Wants public funds for GP surgery rather than third sector. Nominated by local small enterprise and community activists.

Mari, Plaid Cymru.
Welsh and lives in Cardiff, says Remain more important than indy. Parasites off third sector, worked for Foreign Office. Disconnected with Llanelli other than family. Fake and is presents a tailors dummy without conviction. A career politician out for herself, sees EU as a gravy train. Nominated by students studying in Cardiff.

Nia, Labour.
Welsh and has a rural smallholding, a townhouse in Llanelli, and London flat paid by taxpayer. Prefers nuclear weapons to health. Protests to keep hospital open being closed by her own party. Hostile to indy. Hypocrite who ignores constituents. Is hostile to ‘good’ initiatives of her party leader and apologist for Drakeford. Got seat as all-woman shortlist rather than merit. Nominated by Labour councillors.

Tamara, Conservative.
English and lives in Wiltshire, hostile to indy, works for Tory MP in Devizes. A career politician out for herself, Sent to Wales to stand in the colony for purpose of CV with intent to stand in England at later date. Nominated by local solicitor, optician and town undertaker off the London list. Cares nothing for Wales.

I shall therefore be voting for Susan.

Mel Morgan

Sic transit …


Great synopsis there, now just imagine if Plaid cld attract somebody like Susan to join them and stand for rhem and vote for them…..? But instead the bang on about Brexit like some Hunter Thompson-esque character high on speed and coke….all they do os play to their narrow cohort of members located in The Bay and some of the conty officials, they have turned their backs on the rest of their spporters


Plaid Cymru keep attracting the ‘Susan’ types from all corners and communities of Wales, for all the right reasons. From Coed Eva to Caergybi. They lose them. The party must know this, and senior officials need to change things to stop this happening. The Labour party expel racists, the Tories expel fraudsters. The feature of Plaid Cymru is they expel popular community activists. Not only is this a barrier to electoral success but makes them inward looking. The bunker mentality. A party of the status quo and have become ‘comfy’ in that role.


“But instead the[sic] bang on about Brexit”
The Libdems, Greens Brexit party, UKIP and Tories also bang on about Brexit .
So if your vote depends on a party not banging on about Brexit then voting Labour is for you.

Or perhaps what you mean is – they bang on about stopping Brexit
In which case you’ve a greater choice – Brexit Party, UKip or Tories.

You make the point that Plaid Cymru is anti Brexit and I appreciate the position you probably find yourself in choosing between a pro Welsh independence, anti Brexit candidate or pro Brexit anti Welsh independence candidates.
I think the best thing you can do in the circumstances is be honest with yourself and vote for what is truly most important to you.

Simon Gruffydd Foster

I’m coming to the conclusion that the problem isn’t the Assembly / Devolution but a deeper more systemic issue with “representative democracy”. It may have been the best system available in the 19th and 20th century but with today’s interconnected world and recent technological advances, it is well past it use-by date.

The systemic problem with representative democracy is that it invariably results in a small number of people, regardless of party, assuming far-reaching and concentrated power without much representation of people’s concerns and aspirations. Elections are like a contest between Mafia-like gangs competing for who gets to be the next king of the castle.

In short, we need to reform democracy so it can work from the bottom up, not from the top down. We need to make political parties redundant. Only then will Wales (or any other “Representative Democracy”) be free.

And we don’t need a big one-off, make or break independence referendum. We need a way of politically organising that empowers the citizens and expels the parasites. When the people wake up to the fact that they/we are sovereign, a nation where free speech and open debate is encouraged and protected, the days of big power blocks imposing their will from above be numbered.


I’m not sure you’ve got a particularly good deal for your vote.

Although you might derive some satisfaction from the “punishment” it delivers to Plaid Cymru and the non-Welsh nationalist Welsh and perhaps Plaid Cymru voters you wouldn’t see eye to eye with.
The Conservative and Unionist party get a Welsh vote that backs the damage to Cymru you expect them to inflict, that refuses a Scottish independence referendum and that supports Anglocentric Britishness and the Union.

Or perhaps yours is such a cunning plan of domino toppling surety that I aren’t able to fully comprehend it’s potency.


I can understand how Jac comes to his apocalyptic conclusion especially if his conclusions are conditioned solely by the experience of the last 20 years. I am also deeply pissed off by the story so far. However I am unwilling to give up on the structure that we have obtained thus far despite the fact that most of those that have populated representative and governmental positions have been nowhere near the standard required.

The challenge for us, as most full time politicians don’t seem to see any need, is to communicate with and influence our communities so that people selected to stand in the 2021 election are of a better standard and committed to giving a genuinely representative effort. If that fails then we may have to fall back onto a more revolutionary approach, or pack the whole project up altogether ! I don’t think that relying on a London based government to sufficiently irritate or anger the rank and file will work because they are cunning enough to keep us ticking over on a borderline life support drip fed from the begging bowl so beloved by our current crop of politicians.

Mel Morgan

I agree with you. Jac is, consciously or otherwise, echoing some of the opposition in Germany from the time when the Austrian Corporal was taking power. Don’t try this at home, boys and girls !


Your strategy would seem very risky, an act of desperation almost? For once the Tories get their way, will there be anything much left of Wales to save? At least with ‘devolution’ you have representative structures to work through … if only you had the will to utilise them ??? After all, at one time, when devo was first granted, the SNP were a fairly marginal force (I can remember when they got their first MP!) and Labour ruled the roost, so London thought Scotland was in safe hands. It might be worth analysing exactly how that situation got turned around. And btw the SNP gets seats in some very socially conservative rural areas, not just from Red Clyde-side …

Mel Morgan

It’s unsettlingly analogous to a fashion current some years ago among parents of a certain sensibility. Decrying what they deemed the unnatural practice of vaccinating against potentially fatal diseases, they would hold ‘mumps parties’ and ‘measles parties’, so that little Damian and little Saffron could enjoy the gamble of discovering what natural immunity, if any, they had against these dangerous illnesses.

Mel Morgan

Esto peccator et pecca fortiter.


Tut, introducing Lutheran quotes( or misquotes) is just as bad as flaunting popery or traces of classical education. Especially poor conduct in a country where our own native tongue is so often overlooked or neglected.

Nid da lle gellir gwell ! Which, of course, applies to Y Cynulliad. A concept led astray by conceited men ( well mostly men) whose main and possibly only goal was to fill their boots and enjoy a bit of status and the goodies that go with it.