I like politicians. It’s not that I’m blind to their faults or besotted and charmed by their lifestyle. Believe you me, after spending eight years as the Churches’ National Assembly Liaison Officer, I know how frustrating it can be when politicians fail to deliver on what needs to be done.
There is also in Wales the constant complaint about the distancing of those who now, in increasing numbers, live and work in or around the Cardiff basin. It’s an issue that can be too easily exploited by those who have a vested cultural or political interest in keeping Wales divided. Politicians are also too prone to confusing their own interests with those of the public. There is nothing more obvious than a self aware politician. I have noticed that a lot of late especially around the Labour / Plaid Welsh Assembly Government conversations.
This year, more than ever, government ministers have been at the Eisteddfod. We’ve always had ministers visit the Eisteddfod, but they are now increasingly at it socially at the ceremonies and the array of accompanying events during the evenings. The truth of it is, these particular politicians have always been there, it’s just that they have now become ministers. Some of them will even have to get used to receiving protests rather than being in them.
Particularly during the Thatcher years, such ease of contact with Welsh Office ministers would have been inconceivable. It depended a lot, of course, on who they were. The likes of John Redwood, in terms of the sheer volume and intensity of non violent and lawful protest and distain, richly deserved all that they got – even when they didn’t bother coming.
Increasingly, we in Wales now make our own political decisions. We sometimes get it wrong but most of the decisions we have made in Wales since 1999 have been the right ones for us and the United Kingdom as a whole. After all, to quote just one example, we gave everyone else the idea of having a children’s commissioner.
That’s why I like politicians so much, but I still couldn’t eat a whole one.
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