Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for Wales

With the establishment of the Welsh Parliament, we are sending a clear message to people across our nation that our politics is changing. Now is the time for us to learn the lessons of the past and changing the way we do things.

For too long we failed to convey a clear message of what the purpose of the Assembly was and what it had the power to do. Instead, we let it be portrayed as ineffective, a barrier to change that was little more than a glorified talking shop.

We need to cut through the noise and bluster of those who seek to do down our Parliament and show people the real change we can make happen. We have the power to do so much, all we need to do is think outside the box and not be afraid to challenge the status quo.

Our focus now needs to be on tackling the issues that have plagued Wales for generations: low wages, insecure housing, a lack of jobs, poor transport links, rural poverty and so much more.
The Senedd has the power to address all these issues, and the Welsh Liberal Democrats have already shown the change is possible.

Over the past four years Kirsty Williams has done an exceptional job overhauling our education system; reducing class sizes, creating Wales’ first curriculum and ensuring more money is spent supporting the most disadvantaged pupils.

We have shown that we do not have to accept the way things are, that with political vision and a drive to enact change anything is possible. Kirsty is by far the most passionate and talented Minister Wales has ever had.

But beyond this, we also need to show that we are listening to the criticism and concerns that many have – and that we are willing to make tough decisions to try and address them.

A key failure of the Assembly was its failure to deliver, with decisions being bogged down in an endless cycle of Committees for years. This needs to change, and we need to ensure projects are delivered for our communities, not talked to death in Cardiff Bay.

This renaming is just the start of a whole range of changes we need to the way we do politics here in Wales. I hope that all parties will rally behind our Parliament as we enter this brave new world and work together constructively to deliver real change for the Welsh people.

Let us go forward, united in our shared goal of improving the lives of everyone in Wales.

* Jane Dodds is Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Wales.
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4 Comments

  • So glad to hear your enthusiastic endorsement of Kirsty’s ability, passion and skills, Jane. these were so evident in her early days as a politician, when she won awards internationally for her promise as a young politician. As someone involved in Welsh politics at the time of the founding of the Welsh Senedd, and its first elections, I was privileged to meet Kirsty and worked politically with one of her teachers. At that time, we knew that she was “going places”, and so she has! Well done Kirsty!

    As for the Senedd, I would endorse your words, Jane – it must grasp the nettle and try to change those many social economic and environmental problems. I was very sorry when you lost the seat you had won in that exciting by-election (“I was there”) and thankyou for all you are doing for Welsh Lib Dem politics as Leader.

  • R A Underhill 6th May '20 - 9:41am

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Dodds
    Any printable comment on the UKIP/Brexit people?

  • Rif Winfield 8th May '20 - 9:01am

    Jane,
    I have to take issue with your statement that the change of name from Assembly to Senedd will in itself provide a new opportunity for a rebirth of Liberal and democratic politics. It is fine to talk of “sending a clear message”, but unfortunately no-one is listening to that message, and any change we want to see depends on taking that message out to people, not sending out pieces of paper from what is perceived by most people outside Cardiff Bay as an ivory tower with little relevance to ordinary Welsh people. I speak as someone who initiated and co-ordinated the multi-party campaign for “Ie Dros Cymru” in 1997 here in Ceredigion, and was delighted to see its success with the hard work put in by Liberal Democrats, Plaid, Greens and a portion (!) of the Labour Party, not excluding myself. But the Assembly has failed to drive home its relevance to people across Wales, and early attempts to spread its influence have not been followed through. Change of name does not indicate change of attitude!

  • Rif Winfield 8th May '20 - 9:02am

    (continuation)
    At the start the Assembly talked of taking itself periodically out of Cardiff, and holding its meetings in a variety of locations around Wales; it even built at considerable expense a number of regional offices in places like Aberystwyth and Llandudno, buildings which now largely sit three-quarters empty because the civil servants who were initially dispersed to those offices soon returned home to Cardiff. Those regional meetings were initially held, but the practice soon died out. The Assembly attempted to spread interest by holding meetings of “Critical Friends of the Assembly” to obtain feedback over what they were getting wrong (or right!), but again this lapsed after a few years as participants felt this was simply a talking shop which achieved nothing in practice.

    Liberals like Kirsty, Mark Williams here in Ceredigion, and others throughout Wales made their mark by taking campaigning and pavement politics to the streets and villages of their local communities, but they have not been helped by the centralising attitude in Cardiff and Westminster, by generic leafleting which had almost no relevance to the lives of ordinary people, and in practice served to put people’s backs up by flooding through letter-boxes. Focus leaflets are fine (I’ve produced many in the last half-century), but have to be matched by real work in the communities or are seen to be “fake news”; unless they have relevance to the lives of ordinary people, they will simply not be read. We used to talk about the five seconds it took a householder to move unwanted leaflets from the doormat to the waste-bin. The only difference today is that the waste-bin is replaced by the recycling box.

    So it’s a question of getting outside (after lockdown is over) and communicating on a one-to-one basis, or nothing will get changed!

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