The blame game: How to cause a problem and then blame your opponents

Brecon and Radnorshire's Assembly Member, Kirsty Williams: Sometimes it's better to keep your mouth shut.

Brecon and Radnorshire’s Assembly Member, Kirsty Williams: Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut.

Sometimes the behaviour of our politicians is so irrational it becomes laughable.

You may feel that way about the attitude adopted by Kirsty Williams, Liberal Democrat member for Brecon and Radnorshire in the Welsh Assembly, who seems to have been desperate to lash out at the Assembly’s Labour administration over its plans for council tax.

We all know by now – don’t we? – that the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition in Westminster is slashing the amount of support for people who don’t pay the full amount of council tax by 10 per cent. It is abolishing Council Tax Benefit and has told local authorities to create their own “reduction” or “support” schemes.

The aim was to put the blame for the cut onto local councils rather than the national government, and it failed.

In Wales, responsibility was put onto the Welsh Government in Cardiff Bay, which was told it would get £222 million towards the scheme – but the announcement was delayed because the UK Government – them again! – had refused to identify the amount of funding to be transferred until after the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement on December 5.

It was delayed still further after the Welsh Assembly – including Liberal Democrat members – failed to reach agreement on how to administer its new scheme.

So it wasn’t until last week that the Welsh Government was able to make a final announcement – that it would take £22 million from its own reserves, plug the gap in UK government funding in its entirety, and ensure that nobody would have to pay any more than they are at the moment.*

This wasn’t good enough for Ms Williams, who said the Welsh Government had created “uncertainty and mess” by its failure to act before Christmas.

“Assembly Members were astounded that the Welsh Labour Government left regulations to the very last minute and refused to put up this extra money while the Scottish Government and many councils across England had managed to put in place replacement council tax benefit programmes in good time,” she said.

Sorry, Kirsty, who caused “uncertainty and mess”? Didn’t the Welsh Government put forward plans that were then kicked into the long grass by other parties, including your own?

Didn’t the UK Government, of which your Liberal Democrat is a part, delay the funding announcement for political reasons, making it extremely difficult to hammer out plans before the Christmas recess?

Aren’t you making an ass of yourself by trying to make a fuss about Labour’s actions when your Liberal Democrats bear more of the actual responsibility?

I think you are.

*Proportionately. The actual amount may vary depending on how much council tax rises in different council areas; council tax benefit is worked out as a percentage of the full rate.

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