Wales travelling in top gear should be the overarching priority of the Labour-led Welsh Government once we emerge from lockdown, but recent events directed from Cardiff Bay points again to us being held back in first gear writes Paul Davies.
The lack of leadership and ambition displayed by the Labour-led Welsh Government, especially over the past few months, has been painful to witness. Granted, we are in unprecedented times, but in such circumstances it is more important than ever to raise the bar so we can meet the challenge of the day as well as having a Wales that is ready and ambitious post-lockdown. Instead of this, the Labour-led Welsh Government has committed blunder after blunder and laid bare just how out-of-its-depth it is.
In the last couple of months, it has overseen the disastrous error of sending thousands of letters to the wrong addresses, not once but twice; outrageously scrapped testing targets when it could not meet them; revealed a lacklustre roadblock rather than a roadmap for how Wales is to exit lockdown; as well as bury its head in the sand amid calls to extend testing in our care homes. And to add insult to injury, the government had the audacity to waste valuable time in attempting to rush through its unpopular policies – notably, empowering swathes of criminals with the right to vote – rather than concentrate on the most pressing issue: strengthening Wales in the wake of Covid-19.
These scandals have revealed the incompetence that lies at the very heart of the Labour run Wales.
Simply, the current Welsh Government has failed you.
But amidst all of its dithering, my Welsh Conservative colleagues and I took the initiative to lead the way in detailing a credible alternative for the Welsh Government to follow. To date, the Welsh Government has implemented many of our suggestions – notably the extension of testing to cover all staff and residents in care homes. But the drastic Labour failures we have witnessed in recent months is nothing new.
The stains of Labour can be traced all the way back to 1999. People are saying that devolution has failed Wales but it’s actually Labour that has failed devolution. Take our Welsh NHS where five out of seven health boards in Wales have been in some form of special measures or targeted intervention. Shockingly, the Health Board in North Wales is still languishing in special measures after five years.
And that’s not all. The Welsh Government has a never-ending magic money tree that is wasting billions of taxpayers’ money on projects, notably an M4 Relief Road later to be ditched, whilst our children are being abandoned with the PISA results showing Welsh pupils lagging behind those elsewhere in the UK.
Less than a year from now, you will have the opportunity to reverse more than two decades of missed opportunity and replace it with an era of golden opportunity under a bold Welsh Conservative Government.
Together, we can end this one party state.
And the alternative to a Welsh Conservative Government? Well, it is to continue to see Wales plodding along the bottom under the same, unambitious Labour administration.
The stakes could not be higher.
It pains me, as a proud Welshman, to see Wales’ potential not being fully realised by Mark Drakeford and the rest of his Labour gang.
A Welsh Conservative Government would be robust and loaded with ambitious plans and desires that will unleash our true potential.
We will champion you and your family.
We will create business-friendly conditions to allow our small and medium-sized businesses to flourish.
We will rise to the challenges of the day.
And, as the party of and for Wales, we will make your priorities our priorities.
Having a strong economy is paramount to strengthening our key frontline services, and that is why we would urgently reduce business rates to help our vital small and medium-sized businesses succeed. Investing in our young people’s future is also of great importance. Just 29% of Welsh students go to university. We will offer support to encourage more Welsh young people into university by developing degree apprenticeships to boost opportunities to key areas, such as in health, that benefit the whole of Wales.
My message is clear: We need to see as many Welsh Conservative candidates elected so we can throw out this failed Labour administration.
From the South Wales Valleys to North Wales, I understand your frustration at being constantly let down by the Cardiff Bay elite with their empty promises to deliver.
Labour has abandoned traditional voters in favour of strengthening a metropolitan elite. That is why the Labour Party’s red wall in North Wales came tumbling down in last year’s General Election – but we need to replicate this in the election next year.
Under my government, we will ensure there is no limit to how far your talents and hard work will take you.
If you want to get training to secure a regular wage, we will help you.
If you want your own home, we will help you.
If you want to keep more of your cash to support your family, we will help you.
It is time to say enough is enough and instead embrace an exciting, new chapter under the Welsh Conservatives.
It is time for you to place your trust in me and, together, we will burst Labour’s Cardiff Bay Bubble and unleash Wales’ potential.
Paul Davies is the Leader of the Conservatives and the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament.