12/03/2014 The Wales Report


12/03/2014

Is the Welsh government's child poverty strategy doing enough to tackle the issue? And what impact will the referendum have on devolution in Wales?


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Tonight on the Wales Report. The highest rate of child poverty

:00:00.:00:10.

outside London is here in Wales. What does that tell us about the

:00:11.:00:13.

Welsh Government's strategy? With just over six months to polling day

:00:14.:00:17.

in Scotland, we look at the potential impact of the independence

:00:18.:00:20.

referendum on Wales. And the power of satire. Why is Welsh politics

:00:21.:00:24.

seemingly not such fertile ground for comedy? Stay with us for The

:00:25.:00:27.

Wales Report. Good evening. Welcome to The Wales

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Report, where we take a look at the issues making an impact on lives in

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Wales, and question some of those making the decisions. On tonight's

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programme. Around a third of children in Wales are living in

:00:54.:00:56.

relative poverty, according to the latest figures released by the

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Department for Work and Pensions. The figures show that 33% of

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children are judged to be living in poverty - the highest rate outside

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London. And figures from the Welsh Government show that Wales has the

:01:06.:01:08.

highest proportion of children living in severe poverty in the UK -

:01:09.:01:12.

14%, compared to 13% in England and 9% in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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The gap in poverty and educational attainment in Wales is falling - but

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it's is still wider than in England. The Welsh Government has pledged to

:01:22.:01:26.

eradicate child poverty by 2020. How likely is that? And what are the

:01:27.:01:33.

views of young people in Wales? We'll be joined in a minute by the

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Deputy Minister for tackling poverty, Vaughan Gething. We have a

:01:38.:01:41.

special report from the Hawthorn High School in Pontypridd. If a

:01:42.:01:54.

child at school is having problems at home, it forces them to grow up a

:01:55.:01:57.

bit and makes it hard for them to be a child. It is obvious for someone

:01:58.:02:04.

in school that there are problems, children tend to pick up on them

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better than most people. It is a big distraction from school and from

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learning. It is just hard. If you see people the things you have not

:02:17.:02:19.

got, you will take that back home and take it out on your parents. It

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is hard to admit it, it is hard to ask for help, because for some

:02:26.:02:27.

people it is embarrassing to say that you are struggling. Free school

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meals is good, but there was a problem with people getting picked

:02:33.:02:36.

on, people getting left out of trips. Some of them are important to

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get two exams so they cannot get on the trips and then achieve what

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everyone else is achieving. People notice and start asking awkward

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questions that people might not want to answer. It is hard to stay here

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at the moment. I would want to but I don't see the opportunities that you

:02:57.:03:02.

could get abroad or even in England. The things I want to achieve, I

:03:03.:03:06.

cannot achieve here. I need to move. If you want to achieve things you

:03:07.:03:11.

have to move. Help with scholarships would help a lot, because university

:03:12.:03:20.

is so expensive. It is hard on someone's self-esteem when every one

:03:21.:03:25.

else is doing well around them but they can have little, or nothing at

:03:26.:03:35.

all. Very interesting. Some young adults from Hawthorn High School in

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Pontypridd. Joining me now is the Deputy Minister for tackling

:03:40.:03:41.

poverty, the Labour AM, Vaughan Gething. This main target we have,

:03:42.:03:45.

of eradicating child poverty in Wales by 2020, are you still

:03:46.:03:53.

sticking to that? It remains a goal of the Welsh government. We have

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been honest that the challenge of it has expanded. It has got more

:03:59.:04:01.

difficult with the financial crisis and the recession and unhelpful

:04:02.:04:07.

measures taken in the UK Government programme of welfare reform. Every

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objective commentator says that it makes it more difficult for children

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to exit jarred poverty as a result of the changes that have been made.

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But it remains our goal, because it focused the attention on action, and

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I think that every department should have this as a priority, to what it

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does and why it does it. If we do not achieve that goal, there will be

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an honest conversation about why we have what -- not got there, but I

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want to have that conversation in 2020. I do not think it helps with

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the direction and focus of government and our partners if we

:04:43.:04:46.

shift the focus halfway through the cause we think it is difficult. Is

:04:47.:04:52.

it not odd to stick to target that you do not expect to meet? I don't

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think it is odd at all. I think the public are rightly suspicious of

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politicians say, this is difficult, so we will move the goalposts. There

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is more respect to be gained by having an honest conversation about

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what we are doing and why, and saying that, to achieve the target

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in 2020, we need a significant economic turnaround, and it is not

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just about the UK Government, we can do things the anywhere else. -- we

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can do things here pinwheels. We can bring things together in one focus

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and I have been pleased that that has been bought in to buy other

:05:33.:05:34.

partners across the statutory, voluntary and business sectors. The

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young people made several points, one of them was about free school

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meals and some of the stigma attached to that. There is also an

:05:43.:05:48.

important measure, looking at the gap in academic attainment between

:05:49.:05:52.

those on free school meals and those who are not, the gap as I saw it

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recently was 18.3%. What is your target for reducing that? We want to

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narrow it to 10% by 2017. We have a clear aspiration for what we want to

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see happening. We have measures within the action plan so that we

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can see what progress we make, so we have early intervention in the

:06:16.:06:17.

flying start programme, helping the most disadvantaged families with

:06:18.:06:22.

children aged under four and that has been a positive experience for

:06:23.:06:28.

us. Is that target falling into the category of the 2020 eradication of

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child poverty category, which is one that you do not expect to meet, or

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is this one that you do expect to meet? I expect us to be measured and

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assessed on what we do and do not achieve. There is no good coming

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into politics if you do not have ambitions about tackling poverty.

:06:50.:06:52.

That is why this ministry was created. I accept that. I am picking

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up on the figures to measure the extent of your attainment, that gap

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at GCSE level is 33%, and in England, it is 26%. Do you have a

:07:08.:07:11.

target for it using that? We expect to reduce the gap by 10%. Because we

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think that is achievable. We think that is something that schools can

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do, and schools have a stretching target, that is honest and

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achievable. We will be measured on that. The reason why we have these

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measures, we do not just want to say that we want to do more and better,

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we will have a target that people can measure us on, and focus it on

:07:36.:07:41.

all partners across the public and voluntary sector, about what we are

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here to do. At what point do you accept responsibility for the fact

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that some of these figures look rather worse than they did ten years

:07:50.:07:52.

ago? That is why we have an action plan. We recognise the scale of the

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challenge is greater in Wales than in other parts of the UK. That is

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why this department has been created, why my post has been

:08:03.:08:06.

created, why I have gone out across Wales talking to partners across the

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country goes this is not just the challenge for us now, but for our

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collective future. If we do not juice poverty effectively, our

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future is one of April nation, and that cannot be allowed to happen. --

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one of a poor nation. In six months' time, voters in

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Scotland will decide whether to embrace independence or to stay part

:08:36.:08:39.

of the United Kingdom. The debate is intensifying. Labour's Gordon Brown

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added his voice this week, favouring a new constitutional settlement for

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the UK. It's clear that whatever the result - there will be significant

:08:46.:08:47.

change in Scotland's relationship with the rest of the UK. Inevitably,

:08:48.:08:51.

that will also affect Wales, so our political editor Nick Servini has

:08:52.:08:54.

been looking at the options. Scotland has voted yes to

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independence. Scotland will go it alone.

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We should not underestimate the fallout that Wales would wake up to

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Scotland vote yes on September 18. There would be a huge programme of

:09:15.:09:22.

constitutional change. Firstly, let's talk money. Would we get a

:09:23.:09:26.

bigger portion of UK Government funding if are Celtic cousins went

:09:27.:09:32.

it alone? At the moment cash from Treasury coffers is shared between

:09:33.:09:36.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and what each country gets

:09:37.:09:39.

is calculated using the Barnett formula. There is criticism that

:09:40.:09:45.

Wales is short-changed by around ?300 million per year, and criticism

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that compared to Wales, Scotland receives too much. And surprisingly,

:09:50.:09:56.

the Scots have not been too keen on an overhaul of the Barnett formula,

:09:57.:10:00.

but as an independent country they would be in charge of their own

:10:01.:10:05.

finances, so would that mean Wales receiving a windfall from

:10:06.:10:09.

Westminster? If there is a yes vote, that voice of dissent from Scotland

:10:10.:10:15.

about changing the Barnett, is taken away, but it does not mean that it

:10:16.:10:20.

would be renegotiated. David Cameron is not a fan of ripping up the

:10:21.:10:24.

Barnett formula and starting again, but there are concerns that without

:10:25.:10:28.

any Scottish MPs, Westminster becomes much more focused on

:10:29.:10:32.

England, meaning that Welsh protest about funding formulas and other

:10:33.:10:37.

issues would fall on deaf ears. We are dealing with parties that might

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not want to deal with Wales, shouting about wanting more of this

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and more of that. They might decide that actually, no, we are not going

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to negotiate on these things. As a former MP, Assembly member and First

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Minister, Rhodri Morgan knows about fighting Wales's corner. He is

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concerned that there could be a Celtic backlash if the Scots vote

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yes. If suddenly there was this feeling, damned those Celts, they

:11:05.:11:11.

are nothing but trouble, lots of subsidies and what you get back, any

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gratitude? None whatsoever, etc. So, getting any kind of understanding of

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the particularities of Wales would be completely forgotten, if there

:11:24.:11:27.

was an English backlash. With Scotland gone, we're like a mast up

:11:28.:11:34.

next to an elephant, so we would be exposed to what happens in

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Westminster when Scotland leaves. Our tops Tory, Scotland pose no. --

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top story. Scots have given independence the cold shoulder. If

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there is a new vote, there is still plenty to think about the morning

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after the night before. The government will be considering their

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next move. If it is a close now, there will be some serious

:12:11.:12:14.

negotiations between the Scottish government and the UK government.

:12:15.:12:21.

Will Wales be invited to the party? There is no guarantee that Wales

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will have any input into what is going on here and I know that Carwyn

:12:25.:12:28.

Jones has been saying Wales should be at the table but history tells us

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they would be. If it is a close know at the ballot

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box, the Scots may not get independence that they may get other

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powers anyway. Only say that will mean more devolution here in Wales,

:12:42.:12:47.

or maybe not. There is no assumption we will get

:12:48.:12:50.

the same in Wales. It has never been the case in the past. We will

:12:51.:12:55.

probably be on the sidelines, waiting to see what crumbs fall off

:12:56.:13:00.

the table. The first minister thinks we should

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have more confidence. New financial powers are on the way and he wants

:13:04.:13:08.

more control over policing and energy. His challenge is to sell his

:13:09.:13:15.

vision to the rest of the UK. Carwyn Jones has to show what is

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this magic that the UK really is and what is its future? Is it an

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exciting future or is it a future full of resentment and moaning and

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cross-border finger-pointing, as we have seen over the NHS.

:13:31.:13:35.

Nobody is pretending what may happen in Wales is anything other than

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guesswork in the event of a yes or no vote in Scotland. There are too

:13:41.:13:45.

many variables and here is another -as soon as the referendum is over

:13:46.:13:48.

we launch into an intense general election campaign and much of the

:13:49.:13:54.

fallout for Scotland and Wales depends on who is in charge in

:13:55.:14:02.

Downing Street after a next year. Regardless of which way it goes,

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Wales is going to have a huge job getting its voice heard at a time

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when the constitutional settlement has never been so uncertain.

:14:10.:14:17.

It is a process of ifs and buts. It may have an impact but we are not

:14:18.:14:19.

sure yet. Nick Servini reporting. Plenty of

:14:20.:14:30.

food for short. Joining me now is the Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas and

:14:31.:14:33.

from our Westminster studio, the Labour MP Nia Griffith.

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Is there a danger, picking up from that piece, that we are in effect

:14:36.:14:42.

sleepwalking into September. Should we be more prepared?

:14:43.:14:47.

Carwyn Jones already said in November it will have implications

:14:48.:14:52.

whatever happens in Scotland this coming September and we do need to

:14:53.:14:57.

be prepared. And we are doing so. I think we are talking about it but

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until the actual referendum and we know the outcome, there is a limit.

:15:02.:15:08.

There are only two options, if they vote yes and if they vote no, there

:15:09.:15:12.

will still be changes, according to Gordon Brown and other Labour

:15:13.:15:16.

colleagues of yours. So it is not a massive range of options.

:15:17.:15:24.

As you rightly point out, Gordon Brown and Carwyn Jones have said we

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have to look at what happened then if there is a no vote. Many people

:15:28.:15:33.

in Scotland would say that there are many people there who would not want

:15:34.:15:38.

independence but would potentially want some greater sharing of

:15:39.:15:40.

powers. Simon, do you share the concerns

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that were graphically set out in the piece, that Wales could be very from

:15:46.:15:58.

rubble -- very vulnerable? And independence vote means the rest

:15:59.:16:03.

of the UK looks very different and the relationship between Wales and

:16:04.:16:07.

England is different because of an island is always an outlier in this

:16:08.:16:13.

context. A no vote is uncertain in terms of how to move forward because

:16:14.:16:16.

we don't have a very clear either Macs opportunity. Gordon Brown has

:16:17.:16:21.

said something and that is good because it is -- Devo Macs

:16:22.:16:29.

opportunity. Gordon Brown has said something and that is good because

:16:30.:16:32.

it is the first time we have heard someone from that position to give

:16:33.:16:37.

out about it and we have no way of taking politics forward while we

:16:38.:16:40.

wait for this result. The matter is for Scotland but it doesn't stop us

:16:41.:16:44.

making the case for what we should have here in Wales, regardless of

:16:45.:16:51.

what happens in Scotland. And the Silk Commission have made that case.

:16:52.:16:57.

Rhodri Morgan said that Carwyn Jones should be putting the case for the

:16:58.:17:03.

UK, if you like, the constitutional pattern that we have at the moment.

:17:04.:17:08.

The suggestion being that the case is perhaps not being made very

:17:09.:17:13.

forcefully. Is that fair? It is not entirely fair but it is

:17:14.:17:16.

important we recognise the value of the union as well as the value of

:17:17.:17:21.

decisions being made closer to people that if you look at the

:17:22.:17:26.

Williams report, you have got a clear statement about strengthening

:17:27.:17:32.

community councils if you go for bigger counties. At the other end of

:17:33.:17:36.

the scale it is very important that we are looking at things like where

:17:37.:17:41.

is High Speed two going to go and what is the impact on Wales? When we

:17:42.:17:47.

are looking at the UK as a whole, it is important to have a whole voice

:17:48.:17:53.

for Wales. Let's say there is a no vote but

:17:54.:18:00.

there is not much of a margin. What does that mean for Wales?

:18:01.:18:04.

We have to look at the suggestions Gordon Brown has made such as the

:18:05.:18:11.

idea of constitution settlement. Also then looking at the issue that

:18:12.:18:16.

has come up again in the Silk Commission, about the assumption of

:18:17.:18:21.

power is being the Assembly unless they are with Westminster, so

:18:22.:18:27.

looking at that model. And then looking at how we strengthen the

:18:28.:18:31.

localism links so what we are doing is saying, what is significant for

:18:32.:18:35.

the UK and what has to be decided at an UK level? That is an important

:18:36.:18:41.

discussion. Simon, is there an appetite to

:18:42.:18:45.

follow that process in Wales? And where would that no vote leave

:18:46.:18:48.

Wales? It leaves us with an opportunity but

:18:49.:18:53.

there is nothing inevitable about what follows on from de novo. There

:18:54.:19:01.

is a school of thought that they would want to take that powers.

:19:02.:19:06.

There is a fight to be made for a proper settlement in what would be a

:19:07.:19:11.

United Kingdom but then there is a question about the federal

:19:12.:19:14.

arrangement and then what is the relationship between the distinct

:19:15.:19:17.

government and the way that could be done at a UK level? That is a huge

:19:18.:19:23.

opportunity for Wales but it is a difficult one. Silk points to the

:19:24.:19:27.

direction of what could happen to Wales, whatever happens to Scotland.

:19:28.:19:32.

What we don't have is a constitutional step on how that

:19:33.:19:36.

would take place. We have an uncertainty over our relationship

:19:37.:19:39.

with the union, which we had a debate on only today about the 2017

:19:40.:19:47.

referendum as our membership of the European Union. That is an

:19:48.:19:57.

interesting debate. Nobody has sketched out how the UK would deal

:19:58.:20:03.

with it. Thank you both very much.

:20:04.:20:07.

Just think of Spitting Image and its power to change people's perceptions

:20:08.:20:11.

of politicians and policy and we are reminded of the power of satire in

:20:12.:20:17.

politics. It can generate interest among those who might not be that

:20:18.:20:20.

engaged, and it can raise awareness of policy debates in a very

:20:21.:20:25.

effective way. But Wales does not seems to be very fertile ground for

:20:26.:20:29.

political satirists and there are plenty of theories about the likely

:20:30.:20:31.

reasons. Comedy writer Benjamin Partridge has been to Amelia Trust

:20:32.:20:37.

Farm to find out more. Political satire. What is that? Use

:20:38.:20:44.

of humour, irony or critical to reveal stupidity or hypocrisy.

:20:45.:20:51.

Basically, taking the mix. -- taking the Mickey. Britain has a rich

:20:52.:20:59.

history of litter call satire, from the satire boom of the 60s,

:21:00.:21:03.

privatise magazine about spitting image and programmes on today such

:21:04.:21:09.

as Have I Got News For You. Why don't we have more in Wales about

:21:10.:21:14.

our politicians? The key thing is that making an audience laugh relies

:21:15.:21:22.

on a stage set of references. That is why a lot of comedy is about dogs

:21:23.:21:32.

or duvets. That is why people don't start their comedy with, do you know

:21:33.:21:37.

the thing about allergen stained-glass windows from the

:21:38.:21:41.

18th-century? What I'm trying to say is in order

:21:42.:21:44.

to make this a difficult point about the health Minister, it helps if you

:21:45.:21:51.

don't know who they are. It is Mark Drakeford and I did have to look

:21:52.:21:55.

that up. Sadly, most people in Wales would be

:21:56.:22:00.

about as successful at picking Mark trick for out of a line-up as this

:22:01.:22:08.

donkey. Is it him? Watched you think back -- Mark Drakeford. He doesn't

:22:09.:22:14.

know. But it's not that simple. You can't make jokes about people no one

:22:15.:22:19.

has heard of but maybe no one will have heard of them unless people

:22:20.:22:23.

make jokes about them. Political satire is entertainment with the

:22:24.:22:28.

ability to educate. As a young person I learned more about politics

:22:29.:22:32.

from Have I Got News For You than I ever did from the news.

:22:33.:22:43.

A Liberal Democrat MP who broke his back in 12 cases, as well as his

:22:44.:22:48.

sternum and jaw... That is the last time he inches and Widdecombe --

:22:49.:22:59.

pinches and Widdecombe's bottom. I need to find the stories that feed

:23:00.:23:04.

a national debate and what gets my goat is when I'm writing a story

:23:05.:23:07.

based in Westminster, I can read six newspaper articles about it but this

:23:08.:23:11.

doesn't exist in Wales. With its active media, Westminster

:23:12.:23:25.

politics seems like a daily soap opera we can all follow.

:23:26.:23:30.

This may be a laughing matter for them, it is not to the people in the

:23:31.:23:35.

North of England. Whereas the semi-politics seems more

:23:36.:23:43.

likely documentary on farming. It is not only because of Mark Drakeford,

:23:44.:23:49.

it also stifles political satire. Whether it is deadly important is up

:23:50.:23:54.

for debate but I think with a stronger media, satire could play a

:23:55.:23:58.

role in introducing the Welsh public to the people who make important

:23:59.:24:01.

decisions about their lives and hopefully help foster a healthy lack

:24:02.:24:03.

of respect for them. Benjamin Partridge there. By the

:24:04.:24:17.

way, if Mark Drakeford was watching, we know you've got a good sense of

:24:18.:24:21.

humour and we know you won't be upset by that and we look forward to

:24:22.:24:24.

having you back soon. Joining me now is the former Liberal Democrat MP

:24:25.:24:28.

Lembit Opik who is now forging a career as a stand up comedian. You

:24:29.:24:31.

got your own production company as well.

:24:32.:24:33.

I'm trying to do the world 's first pro the rainy and political satire.

:24:34.:24:40.

-- pro-Iranians. I was going to dive into Wales for a

:24:41.:24:45.

moment but Iran is too tempting. Are you exporting satire to Iran?

:24:46.:24:50.

We are trying to and if we can make them laugh in a satirical way, Wales

:24:51.:24:55.

is a walk in the park Mac it is a big if!

:24:56.:25:00.

But there is an appetite for their? Yes. Satire is such an important way

:25:01.:25:08.

to get the message across. I'm glad you're sitting down because most

:25:09.:25:12.

people aren't as interested in politics as you and me so we have to

:25:13.:25:15.

make it more accessible and that is how it works.

:25:16.:25:19.

Is it sad that Wales is a barren place for it?

:25:20.:25:23.

It is tragic and I blame my election defeat on the fact nobody was able

:25:24.:25:29.

to laugh with me. The difficulty is you have to know the characters in

:25:30.:25:37.

order for them to be funny and in fairness to Parliament, most people

:25:38.:25:41.

don't know the MPs but there are hundred and 50 of them. There are

:25:42.:25:44.

still a few big characters in Wales and they would be open to satire.

:25:45.:25:50.

Is it the fact that we are in a position in Wales where some people

:25:51.:25:53.

would say we don't have enough scrutiny of what goes on in Cardiff

:25:54.:25:58.

Bay and elsewhere, and for that reason people are maybe afraid to

:25:59.:26:01.

take a risk and don't think there is interest in it?

:26:02.:26:10.

I don't think there is a vehicle, and Have I Got News For You, but at

:26:11.:26:19.

the moment it is the big problem, the conformists are winning. There

:26:20.:26:23.

aren't any nonconformists. You have got George Galloway and Widdecombe

:26:24.:26:30.

but most people are just ordinary and grey and that is the problem at

:26:31.:26:32.

the SMB as well. How powerful can -- at the Assembly

:26:33.:26:40.

as well. How powerful can the Assembly -- how powerful can satire

:26:41.:26:44.

be? It can be immensely powerful. Boris

:26:45.:26:51.

Johnson is a classic example of pulling it off and Alex Salmond has

:26:52.:26:56.

been an example by being a big character. The second example of

:26:57.:27:03.

when people take the Mick out of you. I have been on a Mac myself but

:27:04.:27:09.

you have to roll with the punches. -- I have been on Have I Got News

:27:10.:27:14.

For You myself and I sometimes yield the Welsh Assembly has to lighten up

:27:15.:27:17.

and until it does that, it won't get their satire.

:27:18.:27:22.

We did have Rhodri Morgan as first Minister, he is known as a first

:27:23.:27:25.

Minister. -- he is known as a big character.

:27:26.:27:31.

He was described as the only man who can make an Armani suit looked like

:27:32.:27:36.

a denim jacket. It is true if you think about it.

:27:37.:27:41.

As a final point, is it a part of a bigger problem, the fact that in

:27:42.:27:45.

Wales, if you compare us with England and Scotland, we don't

:27:46.:27:49.

really have a rich patchwork of media outlets, press, broadcasting

:27:50.:27:55.

is very heavily dependent. That doesn't look too clearly healthy.

:27:56.:28:03.

The people on the eastern border of Wales often tune into the Midlands

:28:04.:28:07.

and they are lost to the Welsh culture of politics completely. I

:28:08.:28:11.

think there is a lack of courage and I have thought that since the

:28:12.:28:15.

Assembly was set up. You have got to be big and bold and otherwise there

:28:16.:28:19.

will not be any satire. Good luck in Iran! I never thought I

:28:20.:28:25.

would say that! It is probably a world first.

:28:26.:28:28.

Good luck. That's it for this week's programme.

:28:29.:28:32.

We'll be back next Wednesday with a special programme on budget day from

:28:33.:28:35.

Westminster. In the meantime you can get in touch with us about the

:28:36.:28:38.

issues discussed tonight, or indeed anything else. E-mail us at

:28:39.:28:41.

[email protected] and we are on Twitter @thewalesreport. Thanks

:28:42.:28:44.

for watching. Good night. Nos da.

:28:45.:28:48.

Is the Welsh government's child poverty strategy doing enough to tackle the issue? And what impact will the referendum have on devolution in Wales?


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