Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Please sir, can we have some more? Croneyism vs Cooperatives

The AWEMA scandal that has arisen regarding the mis-spending of millions of Welsh Government funds is a direct result of the croney culture that Labour in Wales has encouraged over decades.
To make matters worse the charity was run by Labour activists who, despite numerous criticisms over the years, were never challenged by their fellow Labour members in charge of the Welsh Government.
Similar criticisms can be made of the lack of governance and controls over Communities First projects such as the one in Plas Madoc, where the full extent of the failure to spend money intended for one of Wales's poorest communities has still not been properly revealed.
Communities First is a Labour flagship policy for Wales, spending millions in our poorest areas without any meaningful measure of success or failure. At its best, it has empowered people in those communities; at its worst it has entrenched the dependency culture that sees communities rely on handouts and grants instead of developing their own initiatives and relying on their own abilities.
By contrast to this top-down approach, there is growing trend towards community cooperatives in Wales as witnessed by the recent opening of Saith Seren, the Welsh Centre in Wrecsam, the Pengwern venture in Llan Ffestiniog and now the 12-strong cooperative behind Cwrw Llyn (a new microbrewery on the Llyn peninsula).
These are the tip of a grassroots iceberg that is sprouting up in areas where the market has failed. It is particularly marked in the pub trade, where rampant pubco capitalism is wrecking traditional boozers and community pubs.
But football fans, another group of people who have suffered greatly at the hands of vulture capitalism in recent years, have also turned to cooperatives with both Swansea and Wrecsam fans buying their clubs and securing their future.
Where communities and groups realise there are opportunities (and crucially have access to some funding, usually their own), then these grassroots DIY ventures can quickly get off the ground and thrive. They are not reliant on the whims of grant providers, who often make the recipients jump through more hoops than its worth. They do not get de-railed by bureaucracy. They do not have to belong to the right political party to secure that funding.
It would be an interesting research project to assess how many Labour Party members and supporters head up the various quangos and charities that receive Welsh Government largesse. This culture of croneyism is centralist state control of the worst kind. It invites people to bring their begging bowl to the top table.
It can be challenged by the kind of community cooperativism that is flourishing in many parts of Wales.


Anonymous said...

"It would be an interesting research project to assess how many Labour Party members and supporters head up the various quangos and charities that receive Welsh Government largesse."

Why doesn't somebody actually do it then? Would it be that difficult?

Plaid Whitegate said...

Not all declare their political affiliations, so it isn't a five minute job. Are you offering to do the research?

Anonymous said...

It will be difficult for me to do it from Asia. Because, that's where I'll be for a few months as of tomorrow. :-( You can be sure that if the boot was on the other foot that Labour would already have done it. Mind you, when I'm in china, I'll probably get a glimpse of another country which is a one party state and where crony-ismTemopp is alleged to be rife.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

We did this in August 2010, the results were pretty telling, Labour controlled the chair's of AT LEAST 4 out of 7 Health Boards etc etc. Loads of cronyism and nepotism.