30/06/2011 Dragon's Eye


30/06/2011

Felicity Evans takes a fresh look at local council politics, the National Assembly, Westminster and Europe, scrutinising and shedding light on the democratic institutions.


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Does Scotland's SNP whirlwind blow away any hopes Wales has from

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getting more money from the UK Good evening. West -- when the SNP

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secured a majority of the seats in May's collection, it sent

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shockwaves across the UK. The election process had been set-up

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with the idea that no one party would win half the seats that holy

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writ. How did the nationalists secure the victory and what will it

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mean for the devolved government in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast?

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What the result in Scotland make it more difficult for Wales to receive

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funding from Westminster? Brian A majority SNP government, it was

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never supposed to happen. Scottish Parliament would kill the

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SNP. I am delighted to confirm that I will be seeking re-election by

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the Scottish Parliament as the First Minister of Scotland.

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SNP's victory in 2007, which saw them have one more at best -- MSP

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elected than Labour shocked many. They ruled as a minority

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administration for four years until May this year. What would happen

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then was a political earthquake as the SNP reached a majority in the

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parliament. It was an outstanding result. It was not expected by most

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of the academics observing the election. I do not think it was

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expected by the SNP either. The electoral system was designed to

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prevent any party getting an overall majority so it was

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surprising. It has changed the dynamics of Scottish politics and

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of Scotland's relationship with the UK government. Alex Salmond went

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into the election hugely behind Labour in the polls put Labour's

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lead crumbled. It was put down to poor leadership and a bad campaign.

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The parlour - a party's parliamentary leader was cornered

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in a fast-food outlet by protesters in what was a low point for Labour.

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All three of the Unionist Party, Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems

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performed badly. It was a terrible result. We did not see it coming.

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They are in the midst of an internal event about why we did not

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do so well. We have looked to the Welsh Tories to see how we can

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learn lessons. For us, we were dealing with the consequences from

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the coalition at Westminster but now we are moving forward. Alex

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Salmond and its nationalist MPs take the reins of the Scottish

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Parliament just as it is about to get greater control over taxation

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to make it more accountable. The Scottish bill gives ministers in

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Edinburgh and extra �12 billion worth of financial powers. For the

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Unionist parties, Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal

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Democrats, it means a transfer of responsibilities from Westminster

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to Holyrood but for the Scottish government, it does not go far

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enough. The SNP wants to establish a degree of hostility with the

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partnership that is the United Kingdom, so their default position

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but that is never enough. Scottish government immediately

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called for UK ministers to move further and faster, including

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around them to borrow and take corporation tax. The nationalists

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will always take whatever they can get because that has been the

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strategy. It is gradualism. More powers, more powers, more powers

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but it is never enough. It is how the opposition parties combat that.

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Even if they do not get to independence, I think in five

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years' time, Alex Salmond will be able to say, I have achieved

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significant extra powers for Scotland. Scotland does very well

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out of the Barnett formula which is how money is allocated across the

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UK. A report found Wales was short- changed by �300 million from the

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system. That is only one side of the equation. You have to look at

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the input side, not only be out but which comes from the UK Treasury to

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Scotland. Scotland put some more, more than its share, post -- most -

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- per head of population. All credit to the Welsh government, I

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hope they are successful and prosecuting their own arguments,

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providing it is no detriment to the Scottish position. We have a

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administrations of different political colours in the four

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capitals, the nationalists in power in Edinburgh, Labour going it alone

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in Cardiff, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in London and a

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mix of all the parties in Belfast. What does that mean for relations

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between the administrations in the future? So Gotland maintains it

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will work closely with the Welsh government where there is common

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ground -- Scotland. High we will continue to press the Treasury and

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I think there is a common agenda that we can share. One thing is

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certain, the SNP will use its majority to ask voters in a

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referendum whether they want independence, somewhere near the

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end of the five-year parliamentary session. I think one thing you

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should learn is never underestimate Alex Salmond. No one thought he

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would have an outright majority, so to say he has no chance of winning

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any independence referendum, would be to write him off. All the

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opinion polls show people like devolution. They want more power

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for the Scottish Parliament but they do not want independence. The

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SNP have five years in government to work the system to put in place

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what they call the conditions for a Yes vote to have a yes vote.

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four years ago, Alex Salmond put his -- took his place next to the

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Queen as the newly elected First Minister of Scotland at the opening

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of the Scottish Parliament. When he will take his seat tomorrow, he

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will do so as the leader of a majority government. A lot has

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changed since 2007. Four so, what does the SNP's

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success for the Welsh government's hopes for fiscal reform? I spoke to

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the Finance Minister Jane Hutt. Plaid Cymru says Wales was in the

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slow lane now, is that true? came through the selection with a

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very strong mandate for our programme of government. Standing

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up for Wales was the message and that means sorting out the fairer

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funding deal that we need from the UK government. That is why the

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First Minister has led on this. He made a statement in the last week

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or so and that was well received across the chamber. We have a

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debate on Tuesday which clearly defines the way forward, a very

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strong message. Let's hear also from the UK government, what they

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will offer us. Some criticised Carwyn Jones in terms of what he

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told the UK government he wanted, things like stamp duty devolved and

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that being rather timid. Why doesn't the UK government want

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corporation tax devolve? What we all know is we need the fair

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funding deal. We need to implement that floor, to stop the convergence

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and Winnie the reform of Barnet. Everyone in the assembly recognises

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that. Unless we deal with that underfunding, that 300 million that

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was identified and analysed, that has to be the first step. That was

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said very clearly in the report. The First Minister said, we need to

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be on a level playing field with the rest of the UK and that is what

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we discussed when the finance ministers and the first ministers

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came together. We need a level playing field. The reform of the

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Barnett formula which is currently the way the devolved nations get

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their funding worked out, the money from the UK Treasury, that remains

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the priority of the Welsh government? The priority is to

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implement the funding for the Holtham floor which prevents

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convergence. That is part of the reform of Barnet. Just let me

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clarify, what you are going for now is the Barnet floor which prevents

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too much of a gap emerging between what Wales gets in funding compared

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to regions in England? It is that that you're going for, rather than

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complete reform of Barnet in terms of a needs based for Miller?

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needs based for Miller clearly follows on the -- formula. It is

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very important that we recognise that Gerry Holtham, recognised

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internationally, he recognised there is a way of halting the

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underfunding of Wales. It is a very simple thing the UK government

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could do to commence further funding. Scotland is opposed to the

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reform of the Barnett Formula wholesale and I wonder where the

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think the recent success of the SNP makes it more difficult for the

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Welsh government to get its voice heard? We have very common cause

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across the devolved administrations. We worked together, the first

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ministers, the finance ministers, there are many areas where have

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common cause. Let's just look at the common cause that we have. We

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have to ensure that we are suspected -- respected, in terms of

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our responsibilities... I have to press you on this. Scotland does

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not want to see reform of the Barnett formula. You have just said

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that is your priority are awash government, given the political

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context, the rip roaring success of the SNP in recent elections, the

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fact that there will be an independence referendum, the UK

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government will not want to aggravate Scottish voters, surely?

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I think if the people of Wales knew what they were doing on May 5th.

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They voted for Welsh Labour to stand up for them. Fairer funding

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was at the forefront. And in fact, what is important is we have got

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consensus across all the political parties... A full give me but that

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is not what I am asking you. have to start the process of. That

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is what we take to the UK government. The First Minister is

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meeting the Chancellor on Wednesday. But does what happened in Scotland

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make it more difficult for you to get the message across? The point

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about our relationship with Scotland and what Scotland is

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calling for an secure in, they have got the Scotland Act, we are going

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through what the UK government has described as a Carmen like process.

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We have already had the Holtham Commission. There are areas where

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we stand up for Wales and that is the message that comes through. Not

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just from the Welsh government, it comes from every political party,

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Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Conservatives and Welsh Liberal

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Democrats are well behind the Welsh government. What are your hopes for

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a Calman style Commission, Calman being the commission taken in

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Scotland looking at how or fiscal devolution could be addressed? What

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are your hopes, very briefly? Clearly, the Financial Statement

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for reform was not just about the Holtham floor and by no reform, it

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was about securing borrowing powers and ensuring that we have the right

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to raise capital, to ensure that we can invest in our schools,

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hospitals, roads and the infrastructure of Wales. Thank you.

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I'm joined now by Alex Salmond's biographer, David Torrance, Richard

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Wyn Jones, director of the Wells Government's Centre at Cardiff

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University, and the former Welsh Secretary Rod Richards. Thank you

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for joining us. Two developments in Scotland make it harder for the

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Welsh government is successfully make its case on replacing Barnett

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with a Leeds-based for Miller? course they do. I am flabbergasted

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Jane could not give a straight answer. Rhodri Morgan could not get

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it reviewed because there was a Scottish Prime Minister and a

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Scottish Chancellor. She was quitting the Holtham report. Reform

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might mean Wales going up and Scotland coming down a lot in a

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period in which we are running up to a Scottish referendum on

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independence. Of course, it is not realistic politics that the UK

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government is going to do a full- scale reform of Barnet in the run-

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up to a Scottish referendum. I cannot imagine that Ed Miliband

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:14:11.:14:12.

We heard from Bruce Crawford suggesting that Scotland maibgdz a

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net contribution so it has nothing to apologise for even if it is

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overfunded, in some views bit Barnett formula. How strong is that

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argument, do you think? He didn't actually say what figures he was

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using there. One thing is certain, that the wash Government needs to

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be alert or even wake up to the fact that once you move to a needs-

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based formula for Barnet, then the Treasury will put onto the table

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other needs-based financing of Wales, notably the Welfare State.

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Wales is a net beneficiary of some �9 billion here. That �9 billion

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dwarfs the00 million this a needs- based formula would bring. There

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are great dangers here in going into negotiation was the Treasury.

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Let's bring David Torrance in. To what extent is there a common

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agenda between Scotland and Wales now? It's largely window dressing.

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I was at the First Minister's residence a few weeks ago, when he

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was with Carwyn Jones and Peter Robinson. They do a happy cross-

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party show of unity. The only thing that really unifies them is an

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attack on the Treasury, if you like, and urging the UK Chancellor to go

:15:29.:15:34.

for Plan B on the economy. On everything else there's clearly

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tension, on corporation tax. Northern Ireland who wants to bring

:15:38.:15:44.

their arrangements into line with the Republic of Ireland, doesn't

:15:44.:15:49.

want Scotland to get it. The SNP have had a long standing

:15:49.:15:51.

Parliamentary association at Westminster with Plaid Cymru. They

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don't agree on all that much. terms of attitudes, political add

:15:56.:16:02.

tueds in Wales, the idea, the argument that we have heard on

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different issues, well if Scotland's got it, Wales should

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have it too. To what extent does that view need reworking now if

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what's good for Scotland won't necessarily be good for Wales?

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You're right. That has been the tendency in Welsh politics in

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recent years. If you read baeb's election manifesto it's fairly

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clear that they wanted a quiet period after the referendum. They

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want -- didn't want anything to make Welsh Labour MPs nervous.

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Because of this amazing result in Scotland, all of these kinds of

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questions are now on the table. You feel the Welsh Government are

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trying to respond to all of these initiatives, without any clear

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sense of where they're trying to go, what their end point, what the

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desired end game is here. Surely none of these issues should be on

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the table as far as the Welsh Government is concerned at all.

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Bearing in mind the yes campaign for the referendum, which was

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supposedly a tideying up exercise. Now we're taking about borrowing

:17:05.:17:09.

powers, talking about devolving planning powers or energy powers,

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all the rest of it. None of it does the Welsh Government have any

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mandate whatsoever, bearing in mind the solemn undertakings they gave

:17:20.:17:24.

in the referendum. It's not simply that the Scottish result has

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changed the equation, but also recall that the present UK

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Government has, as part of its coalition agreement, a plan to

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establish a Calman-like commission in Wales. That was announced before

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the referendum. It was clear for the yes campaign... You know what,

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I'm going to bring in David for a final word. I'm not going to ask

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you to referee that one. Is it inevitable now that the plan

:17:52.:17:56.

outlined by Alex Salmond will keep constitutional issues nearly at the

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top of the political agenda for the devolves nations around the UK,

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does it automatically spill over? Undoubtedly. The constitutional

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question has dominated Scottish politics for the last 40 years.

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It's going to carry on dominating. Of course the plan for independent,

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-- independence, though the definition of that is open to

:18:15.:18:20.

question, has ramifications for the United Kingdom. So what does the

:18:20.:18:24.

SNP actually mean by independent? They're talking about

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reconstituting the United Kingdom, not about splitting Scotland away

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from it. If there's a two question referendum, it's difficult to see

:18:32.:18:37.

how Alex Salmond will lose. He will, at least, get substantially more

:18:37.:18:41.

powers. On that point, if Scotland were to get full fiscal economy,

:18:41.:18:46.

would that make the case for the replacement of the Barnett formula

:18:46.:18:51.

with something ease tkwror argue, if Scotland is out of the equation?

:18:51.:18:57.

Undoubtedly. The Welsh Government's best bet is trying to pull Wales

:18:57.:19:00.

from Scotland in terms of how territorial funding works around

:19:00.:19:05.

the UK. Clearly there isn't going to be a full scale review of Barnet.

:19:05.:19:09.

Everybody knows that in their hearts. Therefore decoupling is the

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only way forward. Do you agree? Absolutely. I got the implegs that

:19:17.:19:21.

Jane Heartly is somewhat out of her debt in not recognising what

:19:21.:19:27.

Richard says that you have to decouple Wales. Thank you very much

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for joining us. There have been cross-wires again between London

:19:31.:19:34.

and Cardiff Bay, this time over whether or not the Welsh Government

:19:34.:19:38.

has decided to adopt enterprise zones. Yesterday the Welsh

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secretary told MPs that the First Minister had adopted the policy. In

:19:43.:19:48.

fact, Carwyn Jones had only told AMs he was examining the issue. A

:19:48.:19:51.

minor misunderstanding perhaps. But taken against the back drop of

:19:51.:19:56.

accusations of slaps in the face and untruths, is it more evidence

:19:56.:20:01.

of a deteriorating relationship. I asked Vaughan Gething and Guto Bebb

:20:01.:20:05.

what they made of it. It is a concern. I think the issue in terms

:20:05.:20:09.

of enterprise zones was highlighted because of a question I asked in

:20:09.:20:13.

Parliament. Frankly, I appreciate fully that in order to get economic

:20:13.:20:18.

developments going in a Welsh context, we need to make sure that

:20:18.:20:22.

Westminster and Cardiff work in tandem. The fact there is a

:20:22.:20:27.

misunderstanding of this nature is concerning. In terms of the respect

:20:27.:20:32.

agenda, I see no evidence that not in place. It is disappointing that

:20:32.:20:35.

two ministers, from what I gather, have decided not to give evidence

:20:35.:20:41.

to a Welsh Select Committee inquiry into inward investment. It is to be

:20:41.:20:44.

regretted. Nobody would claim that economic development is an issue

:20:45.:20:50.

which is fully devolves. Let me put that to Vaughan Gething. Is there a

:20:50.:20:54.

problem in Cardiff Bay in terms of how the relationship is working

:20:54.:20:58.

with London? I don't think. So these things happen. But the

:20:58.:21:04.

reality is that the Assembly is its own body. It has its own priorities.

:21:04.:21:08.

You have two different governments with different values. There's a

:21:08.:21:12.

Labour Government in Cardiff Bay. You wouldn't expect us to get on

:21:12.:21:16.

and agree with everything that the UK right-wing doe ligs is doing.

:21:16.:21:20.

Enterprise zones are an example where we don't want to follow

:21:20.:21:27.

English policy. We're looking at it to see what best meets the people

:21:27.:21:33.

of Wales. We'll continue to act in a way to support our manifesto.

:21:33.:21:36.

What about some of the language used in recent weeks, a slap in the

:21:36.:21:41.

face to the people of Wales, for example. That's extremely strong

:21:42.:21:44.

language from the First Minister about the behaviour of the

:21:44.:21:47.

Government in London. Yes, I don't make any apologies for that. When

:21:47.:21:51.

you look at that particular issue, you have the same party in Wales

:21:51.:21:55.

saying it's the Assembly's fault. Whilst they know perfectly well it

:21:55.:21:58.

is the UK's Government responsibility. This is windfarms.

:21:58.:22:04.

Yes. The UK recently confirmed they wouldn't devolve responsibility for

:22:04.:22:11.

that. The latest statement made clear to ignore it in the

:22:11.:22:17.

Assembly's policy. Where you have disagreement declare it. That's

:22:17.:22:20.

what you expect of honest politician. You have to be up front

:22:20.:22:25.

about what awe gree on and don't agree on. Is this healthy discourse

:22:26.:22:32.

or is it a deeper problem? appears to me that the Labour

:22:32.:22:36.

Government in Cardiff is intent on not having any discuss --

:22:36.:22:42.

discussion whatsoever. Leighton Andrews will be giving a

:22:42.:22:49.

speech. You have to compare that was members in Plaid Cymru who can

:22:49.:22:53.

give evidence. I think they understood that cross-border

:22:53.:22:56.

cooperation is beneficial to the people of Wales. Thank you both

:22:56.:23:00.

very much for talking to us. A report into the circumstances

:23:00.:23:05.

which led to two Liberal Democrat AMs being disqualified from the

:23:05.:23:09.

Assembly is in the final stages. It will be circulated to AMs before

:23:09.:23:12.

they vote on whether Aled Roberts and John Dixon can take their seats

:23:12.:23:16.

after a long period in limbo. Whatever the fate of the two, it

:23:16.:23:19.

seems others too face searching questions about their role in this

:23:19.:23:27.

saga. The case of the two Liberal

:23:27.:23:30.

Democrat Assmebly Members. Six weeks on, and the file is still

:23:30.:23:36.

open. Aled Roberts and John Dixon were disqualified less than a

:23:36.:23:39.

fortnight after being elected as regional Assmebly Members. They

:23:39.:23:44.

should have resigned from positions in public bodies before signing

:23:44.:23:48.

their nomination papers as candidates, but failed to do so.

:23:48.:23:54.

The party too has taken some responsibility. We've clearly made

:23:54.:23:57.

mistakes which we shouldn't have made. We should have been more up

:23:57.:24:03.

front in telling our candidates what is required of them. What was

:24:03.:24:07.

described firblly as a technicality ended up sparking a police

:24:08.:24:11.

investigation. Last week the Crown Prosecution Service announced that

:24:11.:24:15.

neither man would be prosecuted. One investigation closed then, but

:24:15.:24:21.

another one is still ongoing. Once it was clear there would be no

:24:21.:24:24.

criminal prosecution, the Assembly standards commissioner resumed his

:24:24.:24:30.

review of the evidence. That's due to report any day in time for an

:24:30.:24:38.

Assembly vote by the middle of next week. Views on this have ebbed and

:24:38.:24:43.

flowed over the past weeks. Now all parties say they will wait to see

:24:43.:24:49.

the report's contents before making their mind on how to vote.

:24:49.:24:54.

going to be putting my feelings, emotions and sympathies aside and

:24:54.:24:58.

will look closely at the report on Monday. I will make sure my

:24:58.:25:02.

colleagues do as well, so that the decision made on Wednesday is not

:25:02.:25:06.

based on personal views, it's a dispassionate view based on the

:25:06.:25:10.

evidence we've got. Is it right to bring them back? If they are

:25:10.:25:15.

brought back, would there be consequences of the Assembly. The

:25:15.:25:19.

fourth Assembly has to remain. not just the two Lib Dems who have

:25:19.:25:25.

had to face up to their mistakes. Add elRoberts' case for readmission

:25:25.:25:30.

to the reAssembly may have been strengthened that some key

:25:30.:25:34.

documents giving guidance to candidates were outs of date.

:25:34.:25:39.

They've apologised and said they've reviewed their processes. For a

:25:39.:25:46.

body charged with setting the starred and for -- standards for

:25:46.:25:50.

elections and for the democratic process, it's embarrassing at the

:25:50.:25:54.

very least. Clearly once this is settled one way or another, I think

:25:54.:25:59.

the Electoral Commission will have to adre those matters and they will

:25:59.:26:03.

have to look at their own procedures and how they advise

:26:03.:26:09.

candidates to ensure that this doesn't happen again. If Aled

:26:09.:26:13.

Roberts and John Dixon aren't re- admitting two other candidates will

:26:13.:26:17.

take the seats. Whatever happens, everyone involved will be relieved

:26:17.:26:22.

when the decision is made and the file finally closed.

:26:22.:26:26.

I'm joined now by the Western Mail Senedd correspondent Matt Withers.

:26:26.:26:30.

Welcome. What's the significance of this statement from the Electoral

:26:31.:26:34.

Commission? It's particularly significant in the case of Aled

:26:34.:26:37.

Roberts. They gave him the wrong information. He sought out the

:26:37.:26:42.

information to find out he was in a legally safe position. Clearly, he

:26:42.:26:45.

was given the wrong information. What the Electoral Commission was

:26:45.:26:49.

saying last week was yes, the wrong information was given, but it's the

:26:49.:26:53.

responsibility of the chand date to check the rules. He did. He checked

:26:53.:26:57.

with them. It's the equivalent of the local authority putting up the

:26:57.:27:01.

wrong speed limit and then clocking somebody and saying it was their

:27:01.:27:07.

fault for not looking. Is the job to ensure they are compliant, which

:27:08.:27:13.

they didn't do? I'm not sure where else specifically in the case of

:27:14.:27:17.

Aled Roberts he could have gone over and above the Electoral

:27:17.:27:20.

Commission. Most people would believe that is the ultimate

:27:20.:27:24.

authority in this air ya. Wow expect the correct information.

:27:24.:27:33.

terms of what happens now, AMs are awaiting a report. How do you think

:27:33.:27:39.

that will affect how people decide to vote later in the week? I think

:27:39.:27:44.

it largely does, specifically in the case of the Labour AMs, they're

:27:44.:27:48.

going to decide this because of the size. If you speak to them off the

:27:48.:27:53.

record they're increasingly saying they will make a decision based on

:27:53.:27:59.

the Garrard Elias report. I get the feeling they're hoping for a report

:27:59.:28:03.

which states that these two men did wrong and that they can use that to

:28:03.:28:08.

go in and vote against returns to the Assembly. I don't expect it to

:28:08.:28:15.

be that unambiguous. We will see them split along party lines as to

:28:15.:28:19.

how they personally feel. Given what you've said about the details

:28:20.:28:23.

of Aled Roberts' case, is it conceivable that one of the men

:28:23.:28:29.

could be reinstated and the other not? It's not out of the question.

:28:29.:28:34.

There's more sympathy for the Aled Roberts. A lot of people say John

:28:34.:28:43.

Dixon, essentially he didn't check the paper work correctly. 9 there's

:28:43.:28:47.

less sympathy for him as somebody who has made an error as opposed to

:28:47.:28:53.

Aled Roberts who has been guided towards an error. How will it go

:28:53.:28:58.

next week? If I were a betting man, these two men shouldn't start

:28:58.:29:02.

booking their trains to Cardiff Bay quite yet. You think that is

:29:02.:29:06.

because, minds have been made up, irrespective of what people are

:29:07.:29:10.

saying about the report? It's different when the Conservatives

:29:10.:29:14.

and Plaid Cymru, who are divided on this, I get the impression there

:29:14.:29:18.

Felicity Evans takes a fresh look at politics through the Dragon's Eye. Whether it's a local council, the National Assembly, Westminster or Europe, the programme probes, scrutinises and sheds light on the democratic institutions.


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