Joel's Article on Devolution published in Centre for Welsh Studies

Securing the Union and delivering for Wales

An article written by Cardiff Councillor and Prospective Senedd Member for Cardiff North – Joel Williams:
I may regret saying this on the record… but I do agree with Tony Blair- albeit on only on a few
things. One of those things is his apparent desires for devolution. Blair was clear that devolution
was to fulfil two core aims, firstly to strengthen the Union of the United Kingdom and secondly to
empower local communities. As the Conservative and Unionist Party Candidate for Cardiff North
for next year’s Senedd Cymru Elections, I want to briefly discuss the current devolution position
here in Wales in the context of Blair’s two core aims.

It is a fact that Wales has only experience an Assembly/Senedd under a Welsh Labour
Government and I respect the mandate that Welsh Labour have been given since 1999 albeit a
weak mandate, with low turnout and voter disinterest present from the start. There have been
some positive changes introduced by Welsh Labour including the carrier bag charge and the
move to an opt-out organ transplantation position however those positive initiatives are dwarfed
by the widening gap between prosperity here in Wales when compared to other parts of the
United Kingdom, with Wales worse off in many areas.

The slow erosion of the Union of the United Kingdom began in 1999 and should be a cause for
concern for us all. Welsh Labour have not strengthened our position in the Union and if anything,
they have weakened our position because they have failed to deliver the positive changes our
country and our communities so desperately need. In next year’s Senedd Elections I see the
future of Wales at a crossroads and my view is clear- if Conservative policies cannot deliver the
positive changes we need to see to drive forward improvements in our public services,
infrastructure and economy then we must campaign for a different settlement. That settlement
would not include a Senedd.

Let me make it clear that in Wales we are ambitious, aspirational and passionate and we need a
Welsh Government which mirrors those desires. We need a Welsh Government which creates and
fosters a society of equal opportunity where children can access excellent education along with
an economy that delivers skilled and well paid jobs when those children conclude their education.
If Wales is to compete we need a public transport system fit for the future and in South Wales that
starts with the South Wales Metro System and also includes in the M4 Relief Road.

The two core aims of devolution have not been met and some will argue it is because of Welsh
Labour and others will say it is because the devolution settlement is wrong. For me it is partly
both and there can only be one way to find out and that is a change of Government at Cardiff Bay
in 2021. I truly believe that a Conservative-led Welsh Government which listens and acts on the
legitimate concerns and views of the people and communities of Wales can deliver the changes
we so desperately need to see.