12/03/2014 The Wales Report


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


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


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


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


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


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


Wales Report. Good evening. Welcome to The Wales


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


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


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


relative poverty, according to the latest figures released by the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


everyone else is achieving. People notice and start asking awkward


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Pontypridd. Joining me now is the Deputy Minister for tackling


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


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


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


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


difficult with the financial crisis and the recession and unhelpful


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


objective commentator says that it makes it more difficult for children


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


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


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


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


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


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


the direction and focus of government and our partners if we


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


partners across the statutory, voluntary and business sectors. The


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


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


important measure, looking at the gap in academic attainment between


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


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


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


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


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


flying start programme, helping the most disadvantaged families with


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Scotland will decide whether to embrace independence or to stay part


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


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


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


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


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


been looking at the options. Scotland has voted yes to


independence. Scotland will go it alone.


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


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


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


bigger portion of UK Government funding if are Celtic cousins went


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


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


is calculated using the Barnett formula. There is criticism that


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


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


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


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


finances, so would that mean Wales receiving a windfall from


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


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


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


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


any Scottish MPs, Westminster becomes much more focused on


England, meaning that Welsh protest about funding formulas and other


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the particularities of Wales would be completely forgotten, if there


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


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


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


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


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


after the night before. The government will be considering their


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


negotiations between the Scottish government and the UK government.


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


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


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


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


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


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


or maybe not. There is no assumption we will get


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


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


the table. The first minister thinks we should


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


when the constitutional settlement has never been so uncertain.


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


sure yet. Nick Servini reporting. Plenty of


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


from our Westminster studio, the Labour MP Nia Griffith.


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


sleepwalking into September. Should we be more prepared?


Carwyn Jones already said in November it will have implications


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


independence but would potentially want some greater sharing of


powers. Simon, do you share the concerns


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Williams report, you have got a clear statement about strengthening


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


discussion. Simon, is there an appetite to


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


Wales? It leaves us with an opportunity but


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


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


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


United Kingdom but then there is a question about the federal


arrangement and then what is the relationship between the distinct


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


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


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


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


would take place. We have an uncertainty over our relationship


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


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


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


with it. Thank you both very much.


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


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


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


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


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


political satirists and there are plenty of theories about the likely


reasons. Comedy writer Benjamin Partridge has been to Amelia Trust


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


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


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


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


privatise magazine about spitting image and programmes on today such


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


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


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


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


the thing about allergen stained-glass windows from the


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


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


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


that up. Sadly, most people in Wales would be


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


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


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


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


make jokes about them. Political satire is entertainment with the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


North of England. Whereas the semi-politics seems more


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


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


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


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


decisions about their lives and hopefully help foster a healthy lack


of respect for them. Benjamin Partridge there. By the


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


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


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


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


got your own production company as well.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


make it more accessible and that is how it works.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


be? It can be immensely powerful. Boris


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


would say that! It is probably a world first.


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


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


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


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


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


for watching. Good night. Nos da.


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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