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Do Assembly elections matter?

SIR - We are a democracy, so we have elections, but in the case of the Assembly, does the outcome really matter? Do we really think that education and health will be better run or the country will become more prosperous simply because there is a different party or coalition in charge? I would think that the stagnation that has persisted since the Assembly was formed will continue unabated, because there is no reason to think that it won't.

In 2001 the Welsh Assembly said: "We have to face the fact that by comparison with other countries Wales has low economic activity rates, a significant incidence of low skills and qualification levels... relatively high inactivity levels in the working population; low pay and low productivity; a low proportion of GDP in the high-growth, high-added sectors".

That was 15 years ago and nothing has really changed since, certainly not for the better. In the same period many other countries have moved ahead in spite of having a poorer financial status than Wales.

Throughout these times, the civil service has maintained the status quo and governments have fiddled around the edges. There has been little to suggest that opposition parties have any game-changing ideas, and there is still a question mark over the quality of AMs in general. Being well-meaning is not enough.

A blinkered approach, looking internally for any signs of apparent improvement while ignoring the fact that internationally Wales is in decline, is the easy option and politically expedient, but it also guarantees that the essential changes are not identified. No political party has had the courage to take the radical actions, or put forward the essential changes that are necessary. Blaming Westminster for everything will not rectify the major problems, most of which are actually made in Wales.

As the Assembly recognised in 2001, to thrive in modern times, a well-educated, healthy and highly skilled workforce is needed. However, in Wales, 20% of students leave school illiterate and innumerate; 50% of the adult population have the numeracy skills of a nine-year-old, general literacy levels are poor and demands on the health care system are immense. It is shameful that after all these years this situation still prevails.

Nothing that I have heard from the parties so far leads me to suppose that the situation will improve post election. The result really doesn't matter!

Mr V Ward, Port Talbot

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 23, 2016
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