Cost-of-living up. War in Ukraine. 1-in-5 Welsh NHS patients are on the waiting list. Low wages. School performance stagnant. Worker farms are being demolished. The never-ending housing crisis. Covid recovery.
It could take generations to solve the challenges facing Wales. A government that is focused and courageous to tackle them head-on is needed.
You can always count on the Cardiff Bay bubble not to neglect their responsibilities and instead focus on navel-gazing, as they prioritize having more politicians. Once again, the constitution and elections in our devolved legislature has become the focal point rather than delivering on the public’s priorities.
I cannot quite convey just how angry some people, including myself, are about Labour’s plan to create more jobs for the boys and girls in the Bay by increasing the number of Senedd members (MSs) from 60 to 96, nevermind all the trimmings that come with them. How is it possible to add 36 more politicians to the public bill to address these trials.
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Labour and Plaid could be referring to the public mandate they have. They are the super majority of MSs that need to be passed this unnecessary nonsense. But where were these calls last year during the election? Plaid pushed hard for independence and went backwards. Labour didn’t even mention it during the campaign. Yet as soon as the ballots closed, now can’t shut up about it.
But, above all, there is no real need. Arguments for expanding claim that there aren’t enough MSs for the legislature in order to effectively scrutinise Wales’ Government. Well, Labour backbenchers and Plaid would have more time on their hands if they did not spend all their time commentating on events and the UK Government’s actions, and started enabling a prosperous Wales.
Since last summer, the Plaid leader used less than half of the First Minister Question sessions to directly ask Mark Drakeford about his responsibilities. They have surrendered all pretence of being an opposition party and now claim there’s not enough of them to do the job. The Welsh Conservatives can manage it – why can’t they?
And don’t go thinking that expanding the Senedd will be enough for them. The calls for more power will not stop. Labour has a Constitutional Commission that works for them and their nationalist friends to determine which powers should be devolved.
Thankfully, the Conservative Government has said “no” to further devolution. However, a Labour prime Minister will not hesitate in further eroding British institutions. This will result in politicians in Cardiff failing to fulfill their new duties while power-hoarding calls cease.
My party also opposes the changes on the basis that it cannot sanction up to £100 million a term to expand the political class in Wales at a time when incomes are squeezed like they haven’t been for years, and public services are run into the ground by Labour. That money could fund well over 800 new nurses a year when 70,000 people are waiting over two years for treatment – three times the figure for the whole of England.
Sadly, state-building has become the goal so electoral reform is the way forward. Labour is so obsessed about shoring up its fiefdoms, distracting them from the real issues, and picking battles with Westminster because that serves their agenda: avoiding accountability. We’ve already seen that in their blocking of a Wales-specific Covid inquiry. Labour is afraid of scrutiny.
I understand that there is the risk that the Welsh Conservatives looking somewhat anti-Welsh for opposing these reforms as it goes against the left-wing narrative the devolution is a silver bullet that intrinsically solves the nation’s ills. But as we’ve seen so far, Labour – with Plaid and the Lib Dems in their various coalitions – have made a total mess of the powers at their disposal.
Let’s take housing as an example. Labour has only built 6,000 out of 12,000 homes required annually in Wales. We have a plan, even though they do nothing.
We want to change developers’ attitudes towards planning permission, making them see it as a contract, by changing it to “planning compulsion” where failure to complete housebuilding within a certain timeframe without good reason will mean a financial penalty and revocation of the planning permission. This will fundamentally address land-banking, which is the main reason for skyrocketing housing prices.
What are Labour & Plaid doing? Sticking a premium to council tax bills for second homeowners. This is the low quality of policymaking you get from an administration stacked with those who put their own interests ahead of the public’s, pre-occupied by their pet projects.
The Labour and Plaid hate the Welsh Conservatives because they know that we are shining a spotlight on their appalling record, derelictions of duty and pathetic performance at a time when there is high inflation and pandemic recovery. We are able to hold those responsible accountable, offer solid policies, and promote good governance.
Do they really expect voters to believe 36 more politicians will not stop 1-in-4 patients waiting over a year for treatment, end the gridlock on Welsh roads, make-up the £60 weekly wage gap between Wales and Scotland, or help children catch-up after missing out on more school days than any other UK nations? They are treating Wales like a fool.
We are convinced that expanding Senedd is unjustifiable, unaffordable and unnecessary. Soon, the Labour Government will be declared unjustifiable by the people of Wales.