The Pain that is Peter Hain
It is one of the upshots of devolution in Wales, that those who once held powerful sway over the movements of politics in Wales, have found themselves increasingly marginalised and distant from the day to day happenings of the Welsh political scene in Cardiff. Figures such as Elfyn Llwyd have repeatedly embarrassed themselves with references to party policy, which have been shown to be, in many cases, the exact opposite of party policy. Perhaps the lack of a fully electrified train lines means that the details of Welsh policy are often delayed in reaching those who claim to represent the voice of Wales in the houses of Parliament in London.
However, no one figure has looked more desperate and distanced from the Welsh homeland than that of Peter Hain. Hain for a time stood at the very heart of Welsh political movements. A prominent figures in Yes campaigns, a vocal and very visible Welsh secretary, similarly so in a shadow capacity as well, Hain served in many respects as the face and voice of Welsh politics for almost a decade. Yet today he is a lonely figure. A shadowy figure lurking around in the corridors of opposition politics, he appears to have little sway in London anymore, and so we see his eye wander back across the border, and commit pen to paper on one of the most ludicrous and unapologetically transparent policy proposals ever produced.
Had you missed it, Hain, in what smacked of opportunistic sound biting, now suggests that every seat in the Senedd should be voted for on a first past the post system, as opposed to the partial policy of proportional representation currently used in Wales. Everything about this concept is an indictment on Hain, and the attitude of London politicians towards Wales. First things first, everyone reading this has applied the small amount of intelligence required to see this as a move to secure Labour’s future as the largest party in Wales. There is no hidden agenda here, it is clear what Hain is suggesting that should be created, a block Labour vote across Wales, with the odd Tory here and there, perhaps one or two Plaid members for good measure. In short though, Hain wants an electoral system that will paint the Senedd red, for an eternity.
But this is not where the outrage should rest. The real ire should be poured on his rational, that being the UK wide vote on AV for General Elections. Hain should perhaps remind himself of the whole point of devolution, that being that Wales should have control over its own affairs. Taking the result of a UK wide referendum on an issue that is different to the one being discussed is not devolution, it is the exact same attitude enforced by Westminster on Wales for all of the decades leading up to 1997. Wales it can be said, did not vote for AV. Equally it can be said that Wales was not even asked if it wanted to scrap PR for the Senedd elections, just as much as it was not asked it if wanted to switch Senedd voting to FPTP. The logic applied by Hain is critically flawed, and should be derided accordingly. He has looked out of his London office and reminded himself of the good old days when London could wave a hand and dictate what happens in Wales. Not so Peter, not anymore, you more than anyone should remember this.
Perhaps he would not be so out of touch were he to give up his seat in Westminster and contest a Senedd seat instead. Of course Hain would never consider stooping so low so pursue a career in ‘local’ politics, so the notion is irrelevant, but were he too, perhaps these occasional interventions that he attempts in the Welsh scene, might have a little more weight, Until he does so, he will remain a distant, intrusive and out of touch voice, who would be better off taking some time out to decide if his political future will be focused on chasing the Tories in London, or coming back to Wales and having a direct impact on policy here, rather than trying to subvert it from afar.