Challenging the Group-Think

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A DAMNING indictment of the cronyism and group-think in today’s Wales certainly ruffled some feathers over the weekend.

Rhianwen Daniel’s article on ‘The failures of Devolution’ on Spiked Online was greeted by a storm of criticism on Twitter.

Some accusing her of being part of an unionist plot to undermine Welsh democracy, and that her article was part of a concentrated media assault on Wales.

But these criticisms merely served to confirm some of the points made by Miss Daniel, a Welsh speaker and a PhD student at Cardiff University.

In the article, she points to the serious problems that have developed in Wales since 1999, such as the zero economic growth under Welsh Labour and the alarming decline in educational standards.

She also highlights the democratic deficit at the heart of Welsh democracy today, with only an average of around 40% partaking in Welsh Elections since 1999.

With a wider democratic deficit also seen in the fact that only 16% of current Senedd members come from the private sector, thus ensuring a very skewed perspective as to the needs of Welsh society today.

But perhaps the author’s most profound insight is concerning the emergence of a new political establishment in Wales, where cronyism, conformism and an aversion to criticism are par for the course.

With members of the Senedd, the BBC, lobbyists and various public bodies morphing together to create a self-perpetuating elite which seems beyond any real and meaningful public scrutiny.

With this new elite also reinforced by their strategic think-thanks placed here and there within civic society.

‘Virtually every single mainstream think-tank is left-leaning, further limiting political diversity and narrowing the public discussion of current affairs’ she writes.

‘A truly open society means that diversity of viewpoints from every part of the political spectrum must be represented – rather than the collective, uniform conviction of the establishment.’

A spokesperson for Gwlad said the article was a much needed wake-up call for Welsh civic society.

‘We wouldn’t agree with the author on every point, but she’s absolutely nailed it about the cronyism and conformism amongst the political and cultural establishment here’ he said.

‘As well as the lack of public scrutiny and the lack of a questioning culture that a healthy society needs’

‘And who could argue with her call for more innovation, entrepreneurship and dynamism to really shake up things here in Wales?’

The article also has a bearing on recent discussions concerning the Abolish party and its appeal to certain sections of Welsh society.

Independence supporters would be making a big mistake by characterising their supporters as just being Westminster-loving, dyed in the wool British nationalists.

Many are individuals who are fed up with the cronyism, feather-nesting lack of transparency and closed-shop nature of what passes for Welsh democracy these days.

They are merely the embodiments of a chronic set of problems that Miss Daniel has articulated so powerfully in her article.

And these concerns have to be properly addressed in the next Senedd term.


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