Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why are we so grateful when we get back our own money?

The news of the development at St Athan is to be welcomed indeed, particularly the number of jobs which it entails.

Before we get too euphoric, however, over "the largest investment by the UK government ever in Wales" let us remember a few things.

First, it's our money, our taxes which are being "invested" in Wales. It's not some kind of gift from Westminster. We pay enough taxes - direct, indirect and stealth - to jusitfy this many times over.

Secondly, although £58m a year is a large sum it represents only 3.8% of the total MoD budget which ought to be spent in Wales were we to receive our "fair share" of the defence budget based on population.

Thirdly, while this is a welcome investment it comes at a time when other public investment is being cut back particularly in the county councils of Wales who could easily identify £58m this year which they feel they deserve (after all it's only £2.6m per council and many of them were preparing to find this through 1% "efficiency" savings).

£58m is a lot of money and it sounds more simply because Wales has been so neglected by the UK government in the past but the Iraq War alone has so far cost 100 times that amount. The money is there when it's needed. What a pity that we sound so pathetically grateful when we simply get back what we have put in many times over.

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