Sunday, 24 July 2011

The lack of perspective that's crushing Wales

One of the most frustrating things about Wales, is the hyperbole, hysteria and lack of perspective with regard everyday controversies. I can understand media outlets need to make things more dramatic than they are to get attention, but it's incredibly annoying - albeit sometimes hilarious.

Perhaps it's because not a lot happens here, so any slight change of course is pounced upon and blown out of proportion. It could be better described as a small-c conservatism combined with stubbornness and a colonised, pessimistic mindset.

At a UK level, would backroom events at Labour, the Lib Dems or Conservatives even warrant coverage in a political almanac, let alone a national newspaper? A new appointment or restructuring might get a paragraph or two in The Times and The Guardian but that's about it.

Yet in Wales, changes within a political party somehow constitutes "turmoil" and some people even suggest that Plaid is "staring into the abyss". Is there something I've missed?

Are Plaid in financial trouble? No.

Are Plaid AMs resigning/defecting en masse? No.

The post of "Director of Equal Opportunities" is going, and they haven't quite decided how to approach an election 10 months away.

Jesus titty-f**king Christ. HOLD THE FRONT PAGE!

To hopefully prove I'm not biased, I thought the whole "Lib Dem Two" thing was just as bad. Elected representatives were barred from taking their seats because of what could only be described as a fairly minor administrative oversight. That's an embarrassment.

In Wales it constitutes a "scandal", in Westminster it would be a minor faux-pas added to a infinitely long list.

A concrete dagger plunging into the heart of Cardiff's lungs - apparantly.
(Pic : Guardian Cardiff)
Want another example? A year or two ago, Cardiff Council built a new access bridge into Bute Park (pictured above)  to enable larger vehicles to access the grounds safely for events (like the RHS Flower Show) and the council's plant nursery . The scheme involved cutting down a half-dozen aged trees, some embankment changes/landscaping and widening some tarmac paths.

Those opposed to it described it as a "huge industrial-style motorway-style bridge", a road going "through Bute Park" and a "monstrosity". Green campaigners even blockaded the new bridge in protest, because the cycle lane didn't give "legally enforceable priority to cyclists crossing the entrance". The bridge "had to be closed until it was made safe for cyclists".

In short, the council painted some lines wrong.

Then we come to things like the economy, where if Wales doesn't experience anything other than Chinese-style growth rates of 10% year on year, it's seen as a "damning indictment of Welsh Government economic policy"  (or something to those ends). There'll be the unfavourable comparisons with the former Warsaw Pact (Welsh Tories love the Cold War) and Rwanda etc.

On education, the recent news that there's a "skills gap" between different parts of the UK shouldn't surprise anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of geography or economics. London and SE England will naturally draw more graduates and those with higher technical skills. That's where the blue-chip jobs are.

In Wales (for once nowhere near the worst region/nation in the UK) it's older workers in their 50's who are unskilled - a legacy of unskilled industry in south Wales that's largely died out. Skill rates amongst the young are rising, and the skills gap is closing and quite quickly. Does this really constitute a "scandal"? More like a very mild underachievement.

Talking ourselves down, opposing things for the sake of it (including housing developments) and twisting statistics to suit political opportunism or not putting them in the right context are what's really holding Wales back.


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