by Julian Ruck
It is fair to say that the lobbying of MPs and Lords is a process of, “this is what we want, so let’s have it.” And nothing wrong with this, except when corporate interests get too close to government and brown envelopes are passed across the occasional parliamentary desktop.
Bearing the above in mind and accepting that ‘influence’ forms part of the usual ebb and flow of decision making, one is compelled to consider the position of CBI Wales’ own director and indeed the antecedents of her back up team.
Emma Watkins, said director, originally worked as a political researcher for two different Assembly members in the National Assembly for Wales during its first four years – nothing like starting on the shop floor for a career as a fully paid up aspirant of the Taffy political class, is there? She is now a member of the secretary of state for Wales’ business advisory group, the Welsh government’s council for economic renewal, Carwyn’s airport taskforce (I’m told the director is about to close a deal on a reconditioned fleet of Sopwith Camels for the new ‘Carwyn’s Carriers Airline’), the Wales employment and skills board as well as a number of other Welsh establishment bodies. Certainly gets about does our Emma and I wonder how many of these ‘memberships’ are voluntary?
You would be forgiven for thinking that maybe this is taking “influence” and “big tent” politics a little too far and a tad ‘too close’ to the Welsh government, particularly when one bears in mind the so-called, and often operatic claims, by the CBI of independent lobbying in the interests of UK industry and business or in this case Wales plc?
High up sources in the Federation of Small Businesses Wales, have expressed their frustrations and anger at what they see perceive as special treatment being meted out to Carwyn’s CBI Wales in respect of taxpayer grant and subsidy (I can’t imagine why?) but then they are just the trinket stall holders outside the big tent, so what can they expect?
The Crachach virus strikes again then.
Naturally Ms Watkins is a Welsh speaker, was schooled in Wales and attended the elite Crachach madrassa of business studies at Carwyn’s centre for public sector excellence ie Cardiff University. Oddly enough most of her team are of a similar calling (as indeed are many of Carwyn’s supplicants), what a surprise. It is perhaps less of a surprise when one considers the fact that Wales is one of the lowest performing economies in Europe and as for a private sector, Wales would have trouble competing with a Brazilian shanty town.
The pervasive “Wales for the Welsh” madness that enjoys such extravagant support from the grandees of intimate Welsh public life, insists on white, middle-class, Welsh speaking, Welsh schooled and Welsh degree’d natives to carry out its will. Outside talent? Don’t be ridiculous, insular mediocrity and absurdly low grade apprentices of professionalism are the name of the game, here in Wales.
The words “equal opportunity” are nothing more than an outburst of obscene graffiti plastered all over some Cardiff Bay wall.
Finally, I must quote Auden,
“….two peoples fanatically at odds,
With their different diets and incompatible gods,
‘Time,’ they had briefed him in London, “is short. It’s too late
For mutual reconciliation or rational debate:
The only solution now lies in separation….”
Carwyn’s Labour is not your Labour, Ed. Take a red hot scalpel to it and have done, it will cost you votes on a grand scale.
NB Three requests for comment were made to Emma Watkins. Not one of these requests was even acknowledged let alone responded to. Of course, such blatant evasion demands the question: what is CBI Wales hiding?
Julian Ruck is an author, columnist and Freedom of Information campaigner. He also makes contributions to both Welsh and national broadcasting and media