As the Queen officially opened the fourth National Assembly for Wales following May’s devolved elections, one Plaid Cymru AM, has dubbed the monarchy as representing “a hereditary class system which perpetuates inequality”.
As new members of the Assembly used the opening as an opportunity to reflect on their new found law making powers and responsibilities, a number of Plaid AMs took the decision instead not to attend, concluding that their time was better spent in their constituencies than hearing the Queen.
Among them was Leanne Wood, AM for the South Wales Central region who used the opportunity to once again outline her objection to the principle of the monarchy, arguing:
“In the modern Wales people should not be subjects, we should be citizens. The monarchy represents a hereditary class system which perpetuates inequality.
“The Royals are an unaccountable, privileged elite allowed and encouraged by government to expand its wealth through the patronage of the civil list, the honours system and the land assets their ancestors pillaged from common people. The income they can make from the Crown Estates land in Wales in future years is money that could be well used by the cash- strapped Welsh government.
“It is worth remembering that while millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is spent every year on maintaining the Royal family and their hangers-on in the style they are accustomed to, adults and children are going hungry because they have no money to buy food.”
Her words however received short shrift from Labour MP for the Rhondda, and shadow Constitutional and Political Reform minister, Chris Bryant who said of the move:
“This is just childish attention-seeking. Most people in the Rhondda, whether they are republicans or monarchists, reckon the Queen does an exceptional job and would expect all members of the Assembly to show her a certain degree of respect. With all her experience, I suspect the Queen could teach Ms Wood a thing or two.”
As a number of Plaid members sought to use the opening as an opportunity to reiterate their concerns over the continued existence of the monarchy, first minister, Carwyn Jones used it to pledge that the fourth Assembly and government in Wales, will and should be one that concentrates firmly on delivery.
Speaking to BBC Radio Wales ahead of the opening, he explained:
“The big challenge for us is to make sure people know what we’re doing and can measure what we’re doing – perhaps we haven’t been as good at doing that in the past.
“It’s important that you don’t just do things for the betterment of society in government but (that) you actually make sure people understand what you’re doing and can measure what you’re doing.”
He went on to confirm that he would be establishing, and personally leading a new Delivery Unit at Cardiff Bay, formulating targets and other measurable outcomes to demonstrate to the people of Wales how the government was delivering on its commitments made to the electorate in May.
The language of delivery came as the leaders of the devolved administrations and the UK government prepare to meet together for the first time since the elections, with the economy likely to be high on the agenda. With that in mind, following the publication of the IMF’s report into the state of the UK economy, the Welsh government has continued to warn:
“We have repeatedly said that the recovery is very fragile and we call on ministers in London to re-think their approach and not jeopardise what progress we have seen. Our view is that the UK government’s current approach cuts too deep and too fast.”