Every Sunday, we here at Gwydir will put together a roundup of the previous week’s news – we’ll be looking at the stories that dominated the headlines both in Wales and across the UK. If you have a story you’d like to see feature, make sure you email email@example.com!
Countdown to May
There was not one, but two big bits of news emanating from the Welsh Conservative camp this week. The first, and perhaps the more noticeable of the two, was a virtual speech given by the Leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd Paul Davies. The main target of said speech was to attack the lethargic (and often slightly bizarre) method of governance used by Welsh Labour ever since they first graced the halls of the Senedd in 1999. Entitled ‘Why Devolution needs a Revolution’, the ten-minute speech is filled with punchy soundbites like “the paralysis of delivery is the worst disease affecting public policy in Wales” and a promise that a Welsh Conservative government would in one year be “more radical and more revolutionary than Welsh Labour have managed in five terms”. It appears to also have gone down well with members both in Wales and across the UK and one does begin to wonder, if this is kept up, whether or not we could be seeing the first Conservative-led devolved government in 21 years. Perhaps it’s now time to follow the lead of the Scottish Conservatives and finally create the role of Leader of the Welsh Conservatives…
The other notable event to happen this week was every politico’s wet dream: a (shadow) cabinet reshuffle! The big beasts largely remained in place (Darren Millar at External Affairs and Nick Ramsay at Finance) but there was a welcome promotion for former-leader Andrew RT Davies from the Environment brief to the all-important Health portfolio. Outgoing MS Angela Burns, formally at Health, was appointed as the new ‘Shadow Minister for Government Resilience and Efficiency’; yet another sign that the Welsh Conservatives are planning to shake up how governance works in Wales if they’re successful next May. Other changes include former Social Care Shadow Minister Janet Finch-Saunders to Environment, new MS Laura Anne Jones moving from Equalities to Further Education and Mark Isherwood keeping all of his jobs but adding the Housing brief from David Melding who remains Shadow Counsel General and Culture Minister. Also of note are the temporary additions of Councillor Peter Fox, Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, and the Welsh Secretary Simon Hart MP to the Shadow Cabinet whilst the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. All in all, a rather successful week for the Welsh Tories and they’ll be hoping to keep the momentum going over the next ten months.
Welcome to Pyongya… Cardiff?
In perhaps one of the weirdest pieces of coronavirus advice given out by any government, Mark Drakeford encouraged Welsh citizens, and of course those entering Wales, to not read newspapers whilst they travel on public transport. This is despite the WHO and numerous virologists confirming that the possibility of catching COVID-19 from any commercial good was microscopic. Other restrictions include a plea to stop people from using mobile phones, running for the bus and singing; goodness knows what kind of buses the Welsh Government have been travelling on but the quashing of music on trains is admittedly rather a good thing. We think you’re still permitted to breathe and occasionally move but in all honestly it might just be safer to pretend you’re in a game of (non) musical statues whilst you’re travelling.
And Then There Were Three…
We now return once again to the wondrous source of incredulous information that is Plaid Cymru. The big news in the world of Welsh nationalism over the past week was the verdict handed to now-Independent MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr Jonathan Edwards after his police caution for assault last month. Edwards has been suspended from the party for twelve months, effectively reducing the number of Plaid MPs at Westminster to three, with the possibility of re-admittance this time next year if he can prove he has taken “a period of self-reflection” and has learnt to “address his actions”. Quite how anyone can prove they’ve taken a period of self-reflection is anyone’s guess, but Plaid should probably be commended for the speed in which this unsavoury affair was handled. But any brownie points the Party of Wales have immediately been lost given the fact that, as of the time of writing, they appear to have gone radio silent over the allegations raised last month over the conduct of South Wales Central-hopeful Sahar Al-Faifi despite announcing an investigation a few weeks back.