Wales' socialist dilemma
Monday, January 08, 2007
Wales is a pretty poor country. The south, especially, has never really recovered from the industrial collapse of the 1980s. So, it's about time someone did something to turn it around.
Instead, significant chunks of the country have again qualified for Objective 1 European funding, with GDP in those areas less than 75% of the EU average. The investment is of course welcome, but it's a sign that successive governments have done little to arrest Wales' economic decline. The fact is, too few people still earn a decent wage.
Labour go into May's elections with a promise to eradicate child poverty, the Tories are prioritising the NHS 'above all else', and Plaid will buy young votes with cash incentives for students and people looking to purchase their first home. I'm not quite sure what the Lib Dems are promising yet - they only seem to make the entertainment news these days.
But it could all be so different. Wales goes to the polls in a few months with its two biggest parties claiming to be socialist - a fairly odd situation. Why not make Wales' tragic poverty an election issue? Here's how: if one of the socialist parties went into the election with a promise to accept only the average national income (still greater than what many Welsh people earn) they'd get swathes of positive coverage and do a great deal of good for politics.
Why can't a party say, 'we won't increase our earnings until we can do something about yours'? As election pledges are being drawn up, surely this is something the socialists in government and opposition should at least consider?
Never before has the political class been quite so removed from the electorate. It's going to take a fairly big gesture to bridge that divide, though my sense is it won't happen any time soon.
posted by Blamerbell @ 11:43 am,
- At 6:03 pm, Wynne Jones said...
"Why can't a party say, 'we won't increase our earnings until we can do something about yours'? As election pledges are being drawn up, surely this is something the socialists in government and opposition should at least consider?"
Good point! Now THAT would be a real vote puller.
- At 6:52 pm, Blamerbell said...
It would indeed. It would also highlight a very important issue and go some way to repairing the fracture of trust between politicians and voters (or lack of them).
- At 12:33 am, hafod said...
Is there anyone seriously arguing that Labour is a socialist party any more?
Rhodri Morgan might have these delusional fantasies once in a while but he's had a good few years to implement 'socialism' and it amounts to free presciptions, free swimming and bus passes for pensioners. It also includes privatising council housing and other public services, albeit to a lesser degree than in England.
On your point about a workers' wage - I suspect there are too many politicians of all parties in the comfort zone to make such a pledge, which is all the more reason to replace them.
- At 9:54 am, Blamerbell said...
"Is there anyone seriously arguing that Labour is a socialist party any more?"
Rhodri Morgan certainly is...
- At 12:22 pm, seren said...
Nobody takes the old sod seriously anymore, which is a shame because during the early 90s he was did a good job of exposing Tory quango rule.