30/06/2011 Dragon's Eye


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


never supposed to happen. Scottish Parliament would kill the


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


the Scottish Parliament as the First Minister of Scotland.


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


elected than Labour shocked many. They ruled as a minority


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


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


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


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


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


prevent any party getting an overall majority so it was


surprising. It has changed the dynamics of Scottish politics and


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


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


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


The parlour - a party's parliamentary leader was cornered


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Salmond and its nationalist MPs take the reins of the Scottish


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


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


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


Unionist parties, Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal


Democrats, it means a transfer of responsibilities from Westminster


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


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


partnership that is the United Kingdom, so their default position


but that is never enough. Scottish government immediately


called for UK ministers to move further and faster, including


around them to borrow and take corporation tax. The nationalists


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


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


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


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


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


significant extra powers for Scotland. Scotland does very well


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


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


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


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


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


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


hope they are successful and prosecuting their own arguments,


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


administrations of different political colours in the four


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


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


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


between the administrations in the future? So Gotland maintains it


will work closely with the Welsh government where there is common


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


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


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


referendum whether they want independence, somewhere near the


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


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


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


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


opinion polls show people like devolution. They want more power


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


very strong mandate for our programme of government. Standing


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


we discussed when the finance ministers and the first ministers


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


Barnett formula which is currently the way the devolved nations get


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


the priority of the Welsh government? The priority is to


implement the funding for the Holtham floor which prevents


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


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


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


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


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


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


very important that we recognise that Gerry Holtham, recognised


internationally, he recognised there is a way of halting the


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


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


reform of the Barnett Formula wholesale and I wonder where the


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


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


across the devolved administrations. We worked together, the first


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


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


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


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


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


that is your priority are awash government, given the political


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


fact that there will be an independence referendum, the UK


government will not want to aggravate Scottish voters, surely?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


about our relationship with Scotland and what Scotland is


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


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


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


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


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


Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Conservatives and Welsh Liberal


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


a Calman style Commission, Calman being the commission taken in


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Welsh government is successfully make its case on replacing Barnett


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


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


it reviewed because there was a Scottish Prime Minister and a


Scottish Chancellor. She was quitting the Holtham report. Reform


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


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


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


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


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


We heard from Bruce Crawford suggesting that Scotland maibgdz a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Parliamentary association at Westminster with Plaid Cymru. They


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


powers, talking about devolving planning powers or energy powers,


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


mandate whatsoever, bearing in mind the solemn undertakings they gave


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


changed the equation, but also recall that the present UK


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


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


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


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


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


outlined by Alex Salmond will keep constitutional issues nearly at the


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


does it automatically spill over? Undoubtedly. The constitutional


question has dominated Scottish politics for the last 40 years.


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


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


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


SNP actually mean by independent? They're talking about


reconstituting the United Kingdom, not about splitting Scotland away


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


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


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


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


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


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


from Scotland in terms of how territorial funding works around


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


Everybody knows that in their hearts. Therefore decoupling is the


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


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


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


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


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


has decided to adopt enterprise zones. Yesterday the Welsh


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


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


minor misunderstanding perhaps. But taken against the back drop of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


regretted. Nobody would claim that economic development is an issue


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


language from the First Minister about the behaviour of the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


discussion whatsoever. Leighton Andrews will be giving a


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


give evidence. I think they understood that cross-border


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


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


which led to two Liberal Democrat AMs being disqualified from the


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


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


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


seems others too face searching questions about their role in this


saga. The case of the two Liberal


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


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


fortnight after being elected as regional Assmebly Members. They


should have resigned from positions in public bodies before signing


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


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


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


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


described firblly as a technicality ended up sparking a police


investigation. Last week the Crown Prosecution Service announced that


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


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


criminal prosecution, the Assembly standards commissioner resumed his


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


to the reAssembly may have been strengthened that some key


documents giving guidance to candidates were outs of date.


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


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


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


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


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


have to look at their own procedures and how they advise


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


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


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


when the decision is made and the file finally closed.


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


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


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


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


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


was given the wrong information. What the Electoral Commission was


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


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


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


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


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


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


Aled Roberts he could have gone over and above the Electoral


Commission. Most people would believe that is the ultimate


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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