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14th August 2009

A Tory Victory: ten consequences for Wales

The surprise news on the UK Government’s conversion to electrification of the Great Western main line to West Wales was a landmark decision and is the first step in the campaign to have a high-speed rail link through London into the European main land as air travel will become prohibitively expensive over the next thirty years due to a combination of peak oil and climate change policy.  The Conservatives’ immediate response that they would dump this policy is very bad news for Wales.  It also contrasts with their refusal, so far, at least to apply the same logic to the Crossrail proposal which the financial lobby in the City of London and Boris Johnson continue to clamour for.  Wales it seems is not the same priority for the Tories as London. Plus ca change.

Which raises the question what else could be at stake if the Tories are elected at Westminster.  Here’s my best guess:

2.  A wholly  undemocratic (as it doesn’t represent the political balance of Welsh MPs but the composition of the House of Commons) Welsh Affairs Committee will render the LCO process even more unworkable.

3.  A Conservative government in Westminster may delay or reject a demand for a referendum on further powers on the basis that it may split the Tory Party and would be an unwelcome distraction in Cameron’s first year.

4.  Anti-EU Conservatives would push for the renationalisation of EU regional policy which means that West Wales and the Valleys,which would on current predictions at least qualify for transitional funding worth £700 million post-2013 when the current programme ends, would lose out.

5.  Where Labour deny plans to privatise the Royal Mint, and have put them on hold for the Royal Mail, it would be full speed ahead with the Conservatives. 

6.  Cuts, cuts, and more cuts in public spending would hit Wales disproportionately hard – especially with no commitment to bring in a needs-based formula. 

7.  Digital Britain’s lifeline to English-language television in Wales is unlikely to survive the onset of a Tory Government – and BBC Wales too will be put on ‘rations’ (to use a topical turn of phrase). 

8.   Every cloud has a silver lining I hear some of you thinking – and it’s difficult to see the multi-billion pound Defence Training Academy surviving Liam Fox/George Osborne’s promised defence expenditure review.  Nor do I detect much enthusiasm on the Tory benches for the Severn Barrage.  Good news for peace campaigners and conservationists, but a disappointment for Welsh construction and engineering.

9.  The Conservatives promise to be even more swingeing in their attack on the economically inactive – and since we have more of these in Wales than almost anywhere else, the result in the short-term at least will be even less disposable income.

10.   English votes on English laws together with the probable dropping of the Secretary of State for Wales from the Cabinet will mean this will be an English Government and an English Parliament (with English Priorities) like nothing we have seen in the modern period.   

Let’s hope a hung Parliament remains a possibility.

2 Responses to “A Tory Victory: ten consequences for Wales”

  1. Wyrdtimes says:
    August 15th, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Point number 10.

    A Tory win will absolutely not result in an “English Parliament” as the House of Commons will still continue to have Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs sitting in it and voting on English issues. It cannot be an English parliament if it contains members from the other home nations.

    It’s also extremely unlikely that any Tory majority government will have “English priorities” as Mr Cameron has time and time again stated that he is an absolute Unionist and derides those who want to put England first as “sour little Englanders”.

    The Conservative and Unionist Party will continue to put England last in order to maintain this decaying Union as long as possible. It’s not Wales that will suffer most it will be the English who will continue to be the invisible people – denied recognition and representation.

    You should be supporting the cause of of an English Parliament not undermining it by suggesting that’s what we’ll get if the Tories win.

  2. ian says:
    August 19th, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    It’s a depressing scenario but my gut feeling is that Cameron will not get the landslide that many predict.

    Of course Westminster will become a more English orientated Parliament, mostly as a knee jerk reaction to the Scottish and SNP. There will be a split loyalty for Cameron due to his unionism, but he will be relying on the English nationalist card to deliver dozens of marginal English seats.

    It will be interesting to watch the Lib Dems in Wales squirm, as their right of centre leader starts to make overtures to the Tories. They don’t call him ‘Cameron light’ for nothing.

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