Wednesday, 24 February 2010

I couldn't have put it better myself.

No sooner had I finished writing my last post on the Welsh Assembly Government's failure in terms of economic development than I read this piece in WalesOnline by the Llanelli-based Tinopolis media group's Chairman, Ron Jones. All I can say is that I agree with every word and it deserves to be reproduced in full here:

THE Welsh Assembly Government has decided that we need an Economic Renewal Programme.
The first objective of which is to “To better understand the structure of the Welsh economy, its key characteristics and drivers and gain consensus on the vision for the future economy of Wales”.
This is followed by the usual clichés of “renewed approach to economic development”, “meet the needs of new and existing businesses”, “stronger and more sustainable economy”, and “increase the prosperity and long-term well-being of the people”.
Cliches generally have a grain of truth but when we read that our government has yet to understand the structure of our economy we should be worried. I sense that we are on the brink of one of those dispiriting “something must be done” moments in Welsh history.
After the billions of pounds spent and the efforts of the many hundreds of WDA and now WAG staff over so many years is this as far as we’ve got? Our politicians announce that the answer to our economic problems is another strategy. Probably nobody outside WAG could even guess at the number of strategies, re-launches and fresh beginnings Wales has suffered over the last decades.
To avoid facing up to the failure of all previous strategies our government has declared this to be year zero. We should now pretend that changes in the world economy occasion a re-focussing of our efforts, building on the excellent work and success of the past.
Our economic past is not history, we are living in it. The business model for Wales has been broken for years and we need to acknowledge that before we can move on. Wales has not had an easy ride. It had imposed on it an economic model ill-fitted to the modern world. We were once a land of entrepreneurs. We had farmers, merchants and manufacturers who served their markets and sustained the economy. We weren’t rich but we survived. Governments in London weren’t about to waste money on the Welsh and they didn’t.
Since those days Wales has suffered nationalisation, privatisation, government to whom Wales was a nuisance, unworldly trade unions and our, the people’s, unwillingness to face reality. All have conspired to create not a post-industrial society but a society at ease with living off a public purse to which it makes an insufficient contribution.
Just consider a few of the things we have allowed to happen. Nationalisation removed our corporate base and moved control to London with a profound impact on the business infrastructure. Successive governments over 50 years supported failing or doomed industries. Nicholas Edwards saw Wales as Greater Cardiff. Our WDA ended up pursuing any company prepared to move operations to Wales whilst ignoring indigenous business. Our well-funded universities have made virtually no contribution to our economy. A bloated public sector hoovers up young talent with better salaries and less risk.
The great levers of the economy are outside Wales, but we were entitled to hope that devolution would at least bring an understanding of our economy, empathy for what our country needs.
Instead, post-devolution we have created the foundation of an economic nightmare. The public sector stole Objective 1. We lost the wasteful hundreds of the WDA only for them to reappear within WAG, now hidden in a new fog of bureaucracy and hidden from public view.
The petty regulation beloved of Tory and Labour governments in London has been accepted and gold-plated. Crucially, our people are poorer now than any in the UK and falling further behind.
Faced with this, searching for a new strategy is an insult to the people of Wales. Something should be done is an empty phrase but perhaps WAG should at long last stop analysing and consulting. We are at the stage where anything is better than that.

According to Betsan Powys, Ron Jones's Tinopolis media group is bidding to produce the news on ITV in Wales. All I can say is I hope he gets the contract - it's about time that a critical Welsh media held our unimaginative and incompetent Welsh politicians to account rather than just regurgitating their press releases!

UPDATE: The admirable Dylan Jones-Evans has also posted on this subject.

UPDATE 2: You can also read more at Change of Personnel and Valleys Mam (which also features an excellent critique of Ieuan Wyn Jones by 19th Century Austrian statesman Baron Wessenberg no less)


Anonymous said...

Yea Gods, this is strong stuff! I guess this guy knows what he's talking about from his own impressive global creation headquartered in Llanelli. In my view, the civil service needs root and branch reform before much innovative and entrepreneurial can happen. Is there any sign of the minister doing that? If not, there will be tears. I don't understand why no-one listens to him. Too much focus on the wrong Ron?

Alwyn ap Huw said...

I hate to burst your bubble, but Tinopolis is a group made in Wales, based in Wales but hates Wales. It is the group that creates "Question Time" with an all Scottish panel from Scotland an all Northern Irish Panel from the North of Ireland and a token Welsh person from Wales who will be slapped down if he or she mentions that issues raised are devolved.

Tinopolis, like the Tin plate barons it takes its name from is a company that uses Wales and abuses Wales for money that will be reinvested, not in Wales, but in London.

Wales has suffered from 200+ years worth of companies like Tinopolis – companies that take all and give nothing!

Anonymous said...

My comment we are underfoot , underpaid and under England , until we sort that,we have no where to go but further down
Alwyn, it doesnt detract from what Ron Jones says.He was also very much at the fore front of the Yes campaign.
May be with the departure of an adviser to Rhodri Morgan who didnt want any dirty enterprise we may get some reforms
Mam not holding her breath though.

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Alwyn - I agree wholeheartedly with your comments regarding Question Time, but with the greatest of respect Ron Jones's words don't sound like those of a man who hates Wales. Politicians who sit in Cardiff, who profess to love this country, whilst overseeing vast wasteful and unaccountable public spending for little positive returns are doing more to harm Wales.

Anonymous said...

There aren't enough companies like Tinopolis in Wales! A company that started in Llanelli and now makes hours and hours of Welsh language programming every week as well as programmes for the rest of the country and the world. Strikes me that's something to be proud of not to scorn.

The other companies bidding for ITV news are ITN (from London who want to roll out a generic service across the whole of the UK) and UTV (who have absolutely no ties, no commitment and probably not that much knowledge of Wales). I know who I'd rather have win that.

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Anonymous - 100% agree.