Abstracts: January 8th, 2004

By Steve DaviesThe Welsh Assembly is only permitted to make marginal departures from the Downing Street script. Despite this tight framework Welsh Labour’s deviations on public services point in interesting directions. There is a move away from consumerism, competition, targets and “co-payments”, and a move towards new partnerships with local government and unions and an insistence on equality and universality. In an informative analysis of the new policy environment in Wales, Steve Davies of Cardiff University, examines the basis for this experiment in popular Labourism and wonders if its results might be repeatable. He points out that New Labour’s analysis of public services starts to fall apart as soon as non-market reforms can be shown to work. He concludes that this is the challenge facing Welsh Labour and also the significance of the modest alternatives to the market approach they are implementing. If the electorate are the ultimate market for politicians, then in Wales at least, the consumers have spoken.

Published by Catalyst. http://www.catalystforum.org.uk/pubs/paper17.html