Wales is going backwards under Labour – I want to put our country’s future first

Andrew RT Davies

Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives

Of late, there’s been plenty of talk about what 2021 might hold, the prospect of coalitions, the failings of Welsh Labour and of course the ongoing investigations into the conduct of the First Minister, Carwyn Jones.

And while I appreciate this isn’t necessarily the platform you’d expect me to crop up on (don’t lunge for that delete button – hear me out!) with it being St David’s Day, I think there’s one issue we can all agree on – it’s time we saw vast improvement in our country’s fortunes.

In our democracy. In our country. In our very own Wales.

Since we gained our very own Assembly in 1999, there have been various governments at the other end of the M4 – numerous Labour, Conservative and of course a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition.

Some people, particularly those politicians sporting red in Cardiff Bay, are very quick to point the finger of blame for Wales’ ills at the door of Westminster. A notion which has strangely intensified since 2010 but I’ve yet to work out why! I jest of course!

But let’s be clear – such a stance is a cop-out for any politician or political party worth its salt, particularly when you’ve been running the show for nearly twenty years.

Be it the ‘Tory Toffs’ or ‘Labour Luvvies’ in power at Westminster, it was argued, and believed, that devolution would provide us with the opportunity to choose another path, to tailor an agenda which best suited Wales’ needs.

Since 1999, our democratic institution has had responsibility over a number of key economic levers with which we could have forged our own more prosperous future, and of course we’ve had control over a vast array of vital public services, from our NHS to our schools.

Now for some in Wales that might not be enough, while others might argue we should have even fewer powers. However, I prefer to focus on what we’re delivering with what we’ve got now and sadly the facts make for pretty grim reading.

And however uncomfortable those facts might be, it’s clear we’re going backwards in nearly every facet of public life under Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour.

Failure

In 1997, Welsh and Scottish workers had identical pay-packets – £301 per week. Twenty years later, a Welsh pay-packet now contains £49 a week less than its Scottish counterpart.

And despite the First Minister’s very noble aim at the start of his tenure of making education in Wales a ‘priority’, our schools are now at the very bottom of the UK league table – and that’s on his watch.

Whilst acknowledging the pressures on the NHS which are evident on the various health systems right across the United Kingdom, only one country has ever cut a health budget. And that’s in Wales where 1 in 7 of us are currently on a waiting list – double that of our nearest neighbours.

And even with these stark statistics, since 1997 there’s been one constant in the corridors of power in Wales – and that’s the Labour Party. They can try and deflect as much as they like but the blame for this record of failure lies firmly at their door.

Yes, you’d expect me to say that as a Conservative politician, but first and foremost I’m a proud Welshman. I want to see our country and democracy flourish, one which delivers better outcomes for her people.

However, sadly, over the last twenty years, the Labour Party has failed to do that despite some of its noble aims.

That isn’t the fault of the Assembly, but the fault of government.

A Welsh Government which is tired after nearly twenty years in power and has run out of ideas. Whisper it quietly, but I am sure there are even one or two Labour AMs who believe they need some time to renew and refresh their offer on the opposition benches.

And that’s where we come in. As an opposition party we’ve got to take our portion of the blame for the lack of change in our democracy. We’ve not managed to break that stranglehold and it is incumbent on us to show the people of Wales there is an alternative.

Wales is a hotbed of talent – from some of the brightest and best brains to the greatest and grandest goods. But the true potential of our country is not being unleashed and the country’s leaders have to take responsibility.

That’s why I want to change Wales. It’s time to change Wales for the better, providing a fresh new alternative to the stale Labour offering that’s been dished out to our people and communities for far too long.

Roadblock

After twenty years of near-on one-party rule it is clear whatever we have been doing in Wales is not working. The stats don’t lie. Outcomes haven’t improved. Wage packets haven’t increased. Labour’s failed solutions and grim record is there for all to see.

But it’s also clear it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way forever. Albert Einstein is broadly credited (rightly or wrongly?) with exclaiming “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

And in 2021 – the next time our people will get the chance to go to the Assembly ballot box – we have the opportunity to change course.

I’m willing to work with those across Wales who share the desire to improve our country for the better. We need to remove the roadblock to improving Wales’ fortunes – and that’s been proved to be Welsh Labour.

I believe we can deliver an exciting programme for government which puts the people of Wales first – rids ourselves from Welsh Labour and puts the aspiration of our people and communities at the heart of every decision we take.

And on St David’s Day, I don’t think there’s a better vow to make than one which puts our country’s future first – and step by step together we can remove the Labour dogma which has smothered our potential since the onset of devolution.

I appreciate this offer won’t be for everyone. That’s the beauty of politics. But for our democracy to fully mature and to fully function, we need to deliver change here in Wales.

Welsh Labour doesn’t mean Wales. And Wales doesn’t have to mean Welsh Labour.


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Eos Pengwern
Guest
Eos Pengwern

Welcome to this forum, Mr. Davies; a welcome voice of calm and reason alongside some of the left-wing anti-Brexit bluster we see on these pages a lot of the time. I believe that the Conservatives have a key role to play in the future of Welsh politics, but they are not the answer to our problems. The fact that you are shackled to the UK Conservative Party which has been hopelessly compromised since David Cameron’s tenure, and the party’s long legacy of opposition to any sort of self-determination for Wales – I can’t see that ever being overcome. Nevertheless there… Read more »

Leia (@leiawelsh)
Guest

So will you/the Conservatives be supporting the devolution of e.g. welfare and further powers over tax – given that the biggest correlation for both educational and health out comes is poverty? You can’t fix either of those without control of ALL the “economic levers”

apgras
Guest
apgras

I’m sure many in Wales would be tempted to voting for your party if it wasn’t an English nationalist party.
It’s should be a natural position for a Country to want to be responsible for itself and its people, but this is Wales. If unionist parties are not open to every single option to improve Wales, then we know where your priority lies.
If the whole ‘cost’ of wales to the treasury in the 60’s was £59m, and wales was providing that very treasury with £65m in tobacco tax revenue alone, I’d say we’ve been had for a very long time.

Jason Hughes
Guest

When you look over the border and see the utter contempt shown by the Tories in Westminster to Wales, be it an absolute refusal to scrap the Barnet formula and move to a fairer needs based funding system or the treatment of Wales throughout the Brexit negotiations where the uncertainty is already hurting our core industries and leaving thousands working for industries like Airbus in limbo. The favouritism shown to the DWP and potential disaster of a pro Irish settlement on Wales and the dithering and incompetence on major issues like electrification of rail and hydro power. People are suffering… Read more »

Dafydd Thomas
Guest
Dafydd Thomas

It was labour as well who refused to look at the Barnett formula which robs Wales. When Rhodri Morgan was first Minister and Labour in Power in Westminster they did nothing and Rhodri Morgan in his biography said as much when said that the labour government in London was hard on Wales. The moral end Westminster rule. Andrew Davies points out some uncomfortable truths. The labour government in Wales has played its part in promoting poverty, a substandard NHS Wales and education for 20 years. The labour government imports poverty and child poverty from England by financing the social cleansing… Read more »

Nigel Bull
Guest
Nigel Bull

There is much in what RT says as Labour has undoubtedly failed in the areas that is has total control. The Conservatives, however, have done themselves no favors with their funding of Welsh needs(as indeed did Labour nationally who took our votes and MP’s for granted). Rail investment is an all to visible reminder of what appears to be purposeful contempt for our development needs under a “forever” Labour administration. Turning this on its head, however, suggests that if there was a Conservative majority in The Assembly, funding might increase to make that administration a success! Now that is an… Read more »

Jonathan Edwards Sir Benfro (+North Carolina)
Guest
Jonathan Edwards Sir Benfro (+North Carolina)

“first and foremost I’m a proud Welshman” “First”? – OK, I will set aside my doubts because we do need a fresh start. “I’m willing to work with those across Wales who share the desire to improve our country for the better.” Again, I will take you at your word. Lets see what we can find as common ground. 1. Disappointment that Plaid, which ought to be putting Wales first, has boxed itself into a soft-left and introverted state. Posturing, it will not work with Cons in Wales. But this could change because there is a new Party coming and… Read more »

Gareth Tuen
Guest
Gareth Tuen

Can we have you instead of these guys please?

Dewi ap Dafydd
Guest

Another quote attributed to Einstein (also unverified): You can’t solve problems by using the same people who created them”. So yes, Mr Davies, it IS time for a change of government. What do you intend to do with the conservatives? The difficulty most people in Wales tend to have is the availability of a viable alternative. Yes the conservatives are the official opposition, but what have you ACTUALLY achieved? Do you really hold the governing party to account? Do you really make Mr Jones feel uncomfortable during his question time? Yes, we should prove that we can use the powers… Read more »

Benjiman L. Angwin
Guest
Benjiman L. Angwin

I don’t interpret this as pro-Tory, I interpret it this as a plea to do what’s right for the country. There is no Good and Evil. There is no Few and Many. There is no original sin in capitalism which darkens your soul. These are Labour concepts used to manipulate people and to make people fight one another and identify as differing and hostile economic classes. Long-term Labour rule in Wales isn’t actually about politics. Actually, it’s symptom of our own prejudices and our inability to move beyond 20th century traumas. For the sake of the country we need to… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Hmm, not sure that 19th century Liberal ideas would work. They’ve been tried before, and if anything, Y Streic Fawr in the slate quarries of North Wales proved one thing very well: that the interests of the workers and the bosses are NOT the same. Industrial relations in the South Wales coal mines also proved this well. This was at a time when both the bosses and workers were Liberal voters, so I think you’ll have a hard time peddling this particular idea.

leigh richards
Guest

“it’s time we saw vast improvement in our country’s fortunes.In our democracy. In our country. In our very own Wales”. I’m sure no one here would disagree with those sentiments Andrew but given your party at westminster are presently seemingly using brexit to claw powers back from wales i feel bound to ask how rolling back welsh devolution will help us to bring about an improvement in Wales fortunes? 🙁

JR Humphreys
Guest
JR Humphreys

Mr Davies, time waits for no party. Cut the westminster cord, roll your sleaves up. Croeso!

JR Humphreys
Guest
JR Humphreys

Oh, gosh! I didn’t mean “roll up your silken threads”. But please accept my apology. Sleeves, of course. Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus!

A Gog
Guest
A Gog

Get stuffed and take your English Colonialism with you!!

JD
Guest
JD

I’ve always admired Andrew RT Davies’ no nonsense, straight talking approach in the Senedd and he’s WYSIWYG and has no airs and graces for a Tory. But the elephant in the room is that his is still is a unionist party and doesn’t really believe in Wales. There are so many of us here in Wales who would vote for a centre-right party but can’t vote for a unionist one. RT would be wise to install Suzy Davies or Darren Millar as leader and to rebrand the party to appeal to Welsh people and particularly Welsh speakers. A great article,… Read more »

Eos Pengwern
Guest
Eos Pengwern

“There are so many of us here in Wales who would vote for a centre-right party but can’t vote for a unionist one”

Thank you JD, you found the form of words that I was struggling for. Perfectly put.

Hywel Nantceiro
Guest
Hywel Nantceiro

A good thought-provoking article. Thank you.

Nigel Bull
Guest
Nigel Bull

Eos Pengwern, JD

“There are so many of us here in Wales who would vote for a centre-right party but can’t vote for a unionist one”

So many? It would appear at most 7% minus those from the currently South Wales dominated Plaid fan base which leaves a lot less! The jump from Labour to UKIP was a lot easier to manufacture to a nationalist party. Good luck on that one!

Ben Screen
Guest
Ben Screen

Good to see this. While most of Wales aren’t Tories and while historically the Conservatives could hardly be considered pro-Wales, this is a welcome contribution. He’s right too in much of what he’s written.

Wrexhamian
Guest
Wrexhamian

The consensus of opinion, then, is that Andrew RT is spot on in his condemnation of Welsh Labour’s disastrous rule in this country, and that his wish to make a better job of it within the confines of the current devolution settlement is highly laudable. Ond. Now we come to the point. 1/ Mr. Davies, are you in a position to reign in the Third Sector and to dismantle its symbiotic relationship with Welsh Labour? 2/ Will you find a way of ending the colonial power of the Planning Inspectorate which imposes population transfer into Wales through the building of… Read more »

Simon
Guest
Simon

My first thought was – how nice to read an article by a politician that doesn’t read like he has learned to write from reading committee reports. As for the claim “I believe we can deliver an exciting programme for government which puts the people of Wales first”, perhaps you could unpack that programme in a follow up article? Simply replacing the Labour administration with a different one is not enough. One change much needed is a more open, transparent and inclusive democracy where we Y Werin can have our concerns and aspirations heard (see the comment above). You guys… Read more »

Matthew Williams
Guest
Matthew Williams

You say you can do better, but not once have you said how. All this talk of fresh ideas, where are yours beyond “vote for me”? Carwyn Jones is a neoliberal, the conservatives have decided the solution to neoliberalism is neoliberalism with extra nationalism. Conservative means more of the same, as opposed to progressive. Cut regulation, lower taxes, expect the free market to save the day. We’ve done that. Time for real change.

Michael Matthews
Guest
Michael Matthews

Good. Let’s start by getting Theresa May to permit Wales to have the same powers that N Ireland and Scotland have.

Dewi ap Dafydd
Guest

After such a well thought through and presented article with a majority of comments generally agreeing and posing appropriate questions to Mr Davies, I find it a shame that he has not bothered to respond and address the points raised.