“In the name of god go! You have sat long enough!”
This was Vincent Kane quoting Oliver Cromwell in a BBC Wales programme on the Welsh economy (BBC Wales, Week In Week Out 24.6.13). I doubt readers will need three guesses to work out who he was throwing Cromwell’s words at, but just in case any of you up there in Westminster are in any doubt, it is of course our devolved masters.
“Depart I say, and let us have done with you!” Kane quotes Cromwell again.
So what was Vincent Kane getting so exercised about one may well ask? The fact that Wales is the lowest performing economy in Europe perhaps? The fact that Welsh Labour throws billions of taxpayers’ money at outside companies to invest in Wales – wherein said companies quickly disappear as soon as the subsidy runs out? The fact that many Welsh private sector companies are on the dole?
Mr Kane doesn’t pull his punches. Although I doubt it will get him very far. Wales is on life support, the Welsh people in a state of comatose apathy.
Since devolution and Welsh Labour’s take-over of the Welsh Development Agency, Wales has gone further and further backwards, so let’s call a Welsh spade a Welsh spade here; Wales is an old, crotchety cart horse, a pebble-dashed public sector backwater, it has become an insular Brythonic ghetto whereby, as Kane puts it “by 2030 the smart people will have left Wales.”
And who can blame them? There’s nothing here – unless you fancy retiring to some bucolic splendour and having a cheap property thrown into the bargain.
And what about education? The literacy and numeracy of Welsh youth is on a par with the Czech Republic and enrolment at Welsh universities is in decline.
Following a survey of 150 Welsh CEO’s all of them said the same thing, in Wales the young are unemployable. And Welsh Labour is still determined to opt out from Westminster edcreforms.
It is plain madness.
So where is Wales’ future without an educated and talented pool of young people to drive Wales forward in the modern world? For want of stating the obvious, the young are the future, albeit that Welsh Labour believes they should all be hit over the head with Welsh language tales of Owen Glendower and his Dentures and the Mabinogi.
Let’s take the spanking new Morgannwg college in Rhondda. It’s cost £40m to build and yet only 12% of its budget goes on engineering and the sciences. In other words the future. Oh lest I forget, as a student you can of course be trained-up for a career in a spa or salon ( hair and beauty salons are their forte apparently) or even get some work experience on a TV set – S4C of course.
It does however enjoy one saving grace: students can obtain a certificate in numeracy providing they can count up to 20 without taking their shoes and socks off.
“We’ve not sought to control how colleges spend their money,” skills minister Jeff Cuthbert was heard to say. Well no surprises there, Welsh Labour never seeks to control how taxpayers’ dosh is spent, scrutiny and accountability? That kind of thing is for those horrid English invaders up there in Westminster!
So to conclude, devolution was supposed to put Wales on a path of recovery. Sir Roger Jones, a former chair of the Welsh Development Agency (until it was taken over by WAG) observed on Kanes’ programme that Welsh Labour blew things when they started bribing companies to come into Wales (my words) – short termism on a grand scale – instead of investing in what Wales already has – which it must be noted, the WDA achieved a certain amount of success in implementing.
He further stated, “the public sector destroys wealth, the private sector creates it.”
Although he might have been a little over zealous, after all few businesses could operate without public services such as law and order and transport (or indeed would have healthy employees without an NHS), in Wales there is only one sector.
Yes you’ve got it, the public sector.
And who is to blame??
Julian Ruck is the author of the Ragged Cliffs Trilogy and legal thriller The Bent Brief. He is also a columnist, Freedom of Information campaigner and makes contributions to both Welsh and national broadcasting and media.