Dafydd-El and the ‘dysfunctional’ nature of Welsh devolution

I don’t know why I’m out of favour with Lord Elis-Thomas, but he’s been very critical of a number of things I’ve said over the years, mainly about the 2006 Act.   I find it strange, as I’ve a great deal of admiration and respect for him and his accomplishments, and I don’t think that on points of substance there’s a lot of difference in our views.

The latest instalment started back in mid-December, after David Williamson of the Western Mail rang me and asked some questions about devolution and similar developments elsewhere, prompted by the referendum in Catalonia and the wave of support for increased autonomy both there and in Wales expressed by some Plaid Cymru politicians.  I felt their enthusiasm was rather excessive, and explained why to David.  I said that Wales seemed to me to be developing in a different way and for different reasons, and that in comparative context, Wales’s devolution arrangements were wholly exceptional and to my mind dysfunctional.  When I saw the comments in print (those interested will find David’s piece here), I thought they looked rather stark and weren’t expressed in the more reflective way I’d have done in my own writing, but I hadn’t been misquoted and didn’t see anything wrong with what I’d said.

Lord Elis-Thomas thought otherwise, and the day before Christmas Eve the Western Mail published a letter of his querying what planet I was on and implying it was only foolish, conventional, academics who doubted the practical virtues of the 2006 Act.  (That’s about the first time anyone has suggested that I’m a conventional academic.  Perhaps I should be flattered.)  His letter is here.

If Lord Elis-Thomas disagrees with my views, that’s fair enough, and normally I’d leave it at that.  Disagreement is part of public and political life, and I’m very happy for people to disagree with me.  But the personal nature of Lord Elis-Thomas’s remarks meant I felt I had to respond publicly.  My letter to the Western Mail has been published today, and can be found here.


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Filed under Comparisons from abroad, Media issues, Wales

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