The other day Ed Balls said, “We need to look ruthlessly at how every pound is spent.”
He obviously has yet to travel on the Welsh express gravy train.
Devolution has allowed the ancient Labour enthusiasm for small-town political monopoly and personal fiefdom to run riot – for the impotence of democratic principle and challenge, look no further than Wales with its happy coteries, self-serving cabals and “all the usual suspects” political foxhole mentality.
Like the rest of the UK, there are three sectors in Wales. The public, the private sectors and of course the third Sector which is not for profit and seeks to help citizens in varying and various ways eg health charities, CAB’s etc.
As alluded to in previous ‘Letters,’ Wales is a tax-payer junky, it cannot and will not move away from the divine right of tax-payer subsidy in all things – at least Westminster subsidy that is.
Wales is small, many in Westminster may even think insignificant, its population not even half of London’s. But should this smallness negate any scrutiny by its paymasters? Any accountability?
In Wales, criticism of the ruling party is viewed with suspicion and superior arrogance. The elite potentates of Old Labour carte blanche carry on with a 90 year mandate as if Blair never existed and the unions still rule the ghostly memories of coal and steel grandeur.
London must and always will, pay up.
Dissent is for the birds. Outspoken truth to be sneered at and discredited wherever possible. The Welsh will always vote old Labour.
So why don’t even a minority of the Welsh speak up? The answer is simple. All three sectors are in the tax-payer pocket, in some way or another. Even the private sector relies heavily on public subsidy, although it is debateable whether there is a Welsh private sector at all. To get on in Wales one has to be Old Labour, one has to toe an outdated and defunct Clause IV line and ignore what is going on in the rest of the world.
Speak out? Don’t be silly, who do you think pays my mortgage? Who do you think puts food on the table? In Wales, Labour has become a 24 hour, 5 Star workhouse make no mistake. If the Victorians thought they had it right, welcome to old Welsh Labour’s world!
Allow me to give you just one example (out of many) of Welsh Poor Law gratuity.
Take Welsh academia, now these institutions really are rife with subsidised personal advancement.
Tutors and lecturers Dr Tiffany Atkinson, Dr Zoe Skoulding. Tiffany Murray, Dr Fflur Dafydd, Jasmine Donahaye have all received thousands of pounds from the tax-payer for their own vanity creative writing efforts and note we’re not talking here about academic research or endeavour, we’re talking about their very own poetry and novels.
Multiple awards and bursaries going to the same people are also the name of the game in Wales eg Gwyneth Lewis (ex-National Poet of Wales), Jon Gower (ex-Arts journalist with BBC Wales), Meic Stephens (ex- CEO of Arts Council of Wales), Tony Bianchi, Robert Minhinnick, Richard Gywn…….. it just depends on who you sit down and have supper with. In London it’s Islington, in Wales it’s Cardiff Bay, the only difference being that the food is rather more haute cuisine in London.
Having a proper day job, like most writers, is of course out of the question.
Only recently, this unassailable and perverse sense of tax-payer entitlement was epitomised so delightfully by one Liki Siencyn, chief executive of Literature Wales.
Following the £100,000 of public money dished out to Dinefwr and Laugharne book festivals last year, she announced with a confidence that would have reduced even Simon Cowell to tears and I quote, “The flourishing publishing industry that exists in Wales today, is defiant in the light of the economic climate.”
Defiant? Flourishing? Well, it would be wouldn’t it.
It depends totally and unapologetically on the tax-payer!
So then, why would anyone wonder why Wales is so cowardly left of left and this includes its academic gamers?
Everyone is living off gold-plated top drawer dole. Everyone lives in each other’s pockets so for god’s sake don’t upset the applecart.
And as for those old chestnuts ‘scrutiny’ and ‘accountability’, I put all the above and much much more in the hands of the Wales Audit Office.
Guess what the reply was?
They are satisfied that correct and proper procedures are in place where the distribution of direct Welsh government allocation of public funds to the Welsh publishing industry are concerned and that quality oversight is ‘adequate’.
Such is the standard of government oversight in Wales.
It is simply absurd.
It is also brazenly dishonest.
Since devolution the Welsh government has blown its trumpets and demolished the walls of progress and any chance of some modest Welsh self-reliance.
Nick Capaldi, CEO of the Arts Council of Wales, was on television earlier this week (BBC Wales News) announcing his support for a Welsh artist’s contribution to an exhibition of the visual arts in Venice – the recording of a man snoring in a telescope.
Cost to tax-payer? £400,000 and I wonder who is paying for Nick’s little excursion to Venice on a PR exercise? I know the price of a cappuccino in St. Mark’s Square will make your eyes water.
The arrogance of entitlement is just plain astonishing. The country is broke but not for the Arts Council of Wales and its apparatchiks it seems. To hell with austerity, Westminster and the tax-payer, a Welsh artist and the CEO of the Arts Council of Wales must come first and money is no object!
The title of Ed Balls’ speech at the start of the week was “striking the right balance for the British economy”. He described something called a zero based spending review: “a root and branch review of every pound the government spends from the bottom up”
Let’s see if the Welsh gravy train survives a collision with Labour’s new fiscal reality.