I've been a member of the Institute of Welsh Affairs since the beginning -in the 1980s. Established in response to a challenge to the Welsh private and public sectors to create a forum for debate and policy development specific to Wales by the then Conservative Secretary of State for Wales, Nick Edwards I accepted that it would inevitably be challenging Government, of whatever colour. I did not expect it to become a politically partisan body. In general, the IWA has fulfilled its remit. But after reading today's Western Mail essay by the IWA's Director, John Osmond, I find myself wondering where this organisation is going. Lets consider some of the detail - in the order they are written.
'the Tories...give the impression of cruising into Government on a wave of promising polls'. The reality is that almost every independent commentator has acknowledged that the Conservative Party has declined the idea of cruising into power, but has taken the risk of committing to less public spending at the heart of our Conference. In the same paragraph we have an attempt to blame the excesses of the financial sector on Mrs Thatcher's Big Bang - ignoring the fact that Labour have formed the Government for the last 12 years, and that Gordon Brown completely restructured the financial regulatory regime ten years ago. He then goes on to comment about the MP's expenses scandal - again referring only to the Labour and Conservative Parties. Completely missing the point that David Cameron's response to the scandal has been widely applauded as decisive.
Then John really gets going. "He (David Cameron) hasn't fundamentally changed the Conservative Party. It remains in favour of low taxes, against any real distributive fiscal policy, anti Europe Union, pro fox-hunting, basically anti-green but in favour of neo-colonialism grandstanding in Afghanistan and other places around the world.". Then we have a whole lot more stuff, leading to a call for a 'hung Parliament'. I have no problem with anyone holding all of these opinions - particularly when a paid up activist member of another political party. But in this essay, John is speaking as Director of the IWA. Well, I'd like to make it clear that he's not speaking in my name.