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Adrian's Election Adventure: Episode 2

Adrian visits Harlech Castle, Gwynedd, to speak to local historian Benjie Williams about Owain Glyndwr Photo: ITV News Cymru Wales

If you saw the first episode of my election adventure you'll have gathered that I like to begin each of my journeys with a bit of history.

And given that I've been travelling around Wales, it was inevitable that I'd end up in a castle at some point.

I had plenty to choose from but I chose Harlech Castle because for five years at the start of the 15th Century, it was the military and political headquarters of Owain Glyndwr.

A potent figurehead of Welsh nationalism, he led a full-scale revolt against the ruling English crown and remains celebrated six hundred years later.

Harlech Castle in Gwynedd, North Wales Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

In the programme, local historian Benjie Williams told me more about the revolt and the sense of Welshness fuelling it.

Fascinating stuff, but as in the rest of my journeys, I'm visiting the past to find more about the present.

So, looking at Glyndwr's revolt is a starting point to discuss the modern day version of political control in Wales: devolution.

Today, decision-making over twenty areas including health, education, transport and the environment is in the hands of the National Assembly, with day-to-day power exercised by the Welsh Government.

The UK Government in London is still responsible for the big stuff like benefits, defence and policing.

All political parties in this election are promising to increase the powers on offer to the National Assembly here in Wales in the wake of Scotland's Independence referendum.

But on my travels I found that there's still a lot of confusion about who's responsible for what. Something that one expert I spoke to put succinctly:

One of the interesting things about all of this is that people who are part of the kind of 'Bay bubble', people who follow Welsh politics closely, assume that for example people who think that the Welsh NHS is performing poorly blame the Welsh Government for this. The evidence that we have is actually quite different. What we see is that the Welsh electorate so far at least tend to attribute good things, be they in devolved or non-devolved fields to the Welsh Government and on the other hand, when things are going badly, we tend to blame those people in London.

– Professor Richard Wyn Jones, Cardiff University

As he says, the division between governments is most confusing when it comes to the health service. It's fully devolved so entirely the responsibility of the Welsh Government, which has faced considerable criticism for its record of running it.

But surveys show that many people still pin the blame or give the credit for the NHS in Wales to the UK Government in London, which has no say.

Adrian visits the Aneurin Bevan Memorial Stones, to learn more about the man who founded the National Health Service Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

What's certainly true is that the amount of money the Welsh Government gets, and so indirectly the amount spent on the NHS, is decided by ministers in London.

That, and the fact that politicians in all parties are determined to make the NHS an election issue regardless of devolution, means that it's something I wanted to look at in this series.

So I've been speaking to those involved on both sides of the argument about controversial changes planned for the Welsh health service to try to sift fact from fiction.

Tune in to the second episode of my election adventure, tonight at 8pm on ITV Wales #electionadventure

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