The Welsh Government’s enthusiasm for moving to less local government in Wales is music to the ears of the Welsh crachach.
There has sometimes been a romantic view of Wales that our lack of large scale indigenous capitalists somehow makes us classless. Nonsense! We are a highly stratified society in which the ingenious Welsh concept of the crachach refers to that well established elite which expects to govern notwithstanding the coming and going of assemblies and councils.
When elected local councils were first established across Wales by Acts of Parliament 1888 and 1894 the great Radical MP, Tom Ellis of Meirionydd, was hugely enthusiastic. He saw this, quite rightly, as the opportunity for Y Werin, the common people of Wales, to share control of their own communities and destinies. He saw it as one in the eye for the crachach – the landowners, pastors and professionals – who had assumed their right to control.
The crachach have spent the last century and more seeking to undermine local government. They created the quangos. Ultimately they supported devolution – any alternative to local government would do. Always the call was for less local government. Their particular bete noire was always the councillor – how could ordinary people have the calibre, the articulation, the vision to shape their own communities.
The Williams Report has been much welcomed by the crachach of Wales – they have waited over a century for its arrival.