Letter from Wales: Understanding the Tory threat. Pub Uncut 5.12.13

Some might argue that without the Falklands War and internal Labour warfare Margaret Thatcher might never have imposed her ‘revolutions’ upon British society. Politics is always about luck (and of course Machiavellian expediency) and let’s face it, she had plenty of it. The grand irony perhaps being, that she dared to increase state control way beyond the temerity of any of her Labour predecessors, a fact often forgotten or ignored by the 21st Century politeness of please all and even their poodles, political endeavour.

No-one would argue that Thatcher’s sons ie Major, Blair and Brown carried her No 10 torch around the globe in one way or another.

So, how has Welsh Labour, and more particularly the Welsh Labour government, evolved over the years of modern, innovative and more realistic Labour social democracy vs Tory Mammon worship?

It hasn’t, must be the only sensible answer. Years of complacent take for granted mandate has demolished new thinking and allowed the Welsh Labour political elites to wallow in unchallenged bowers of old Labour bucolic detachment and arrogant disregard for the norms of democratic oversight and scrutiny. Welsh Labour has undoubtedly added a new dimension to de Tocqueville’s ‘… socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.’

Carwyn Jones, his cabal of Ministers (although to be fair as far I know, there isn’t one Nell Gwyn amongst them), his pliant media apparat have managed to build up a reputation of non-engagement with the Welsh media, such as it is, that would shame even Paul Flowers into going straight!

One is therefore left with the question: How on earth does one find out what is going on, if Carwyn, Jenkins, Pritchard & Co adamantly refuse to prostrate themselves before the court of public opinion and the eagle eyes of their masters, by only allowing a couple of favoured hacks from BBC Wales and the Western Mail, neither of which are renowned for robust and ruthless political scrutiny, into their press briefings?

You in the world outside Wales would be forgiven for thinking that where Welsh media oversight is concerned, two’s company, three’s a crowd.

The answer? And it is an unfortunate one, is to sidle up to the opposition and to hope that, fingers crossed, one can glean the odd insight or two from them. Welsh Labour won’t come up to the plate, so what else is there? Carwyn’s team druid have been afforded countless opportunities to state their case but on each occasion have chosen to run to their pleasure cruisers in Cardiff Bay or hide their identities under a burka-like druidical shroud of anonymity, yelling, “It’s all Westminster’s fault, nothing to do with us, mun!”

There are few who would argue against batting for local interests and the Welsh looking after their own as it were – within reason. After all there are problems in Wales that are not common to the rest of the UK and earlier this week I interviewed Andrew RT Davies AM and leader of the Tory opposition in the Welsh Assembly, to explore what the Welsh Tories would do if Carwyn no longer had a say.

Mr Davies certainly agreed with my ‘take for granted mandate’ ( yes, I know he would), more specifically in respect of Welsh Labour’s rule he said, “Elected in perpetuity, there is an appetite for change and that the only solutions for Welsh problems lie in radical change.” He stated that “Wales Finance hasn’t been working to best effect,” – well we all know that, it couldn’t manage a Provident payment card properly – “and that a new tax system had to be put in place to help indigenous businesses, for instance raising business rate discounts.” He was also of the view that red tape needed to be slashed in order to encourage new investment and wealth creation was the name of the game in Wales. So, a more caring Labour social democracy vs Tory Mammon worship is indeed alive and well even in Wales or should I say Carwynsian economics vs Friedman’s Chicago boys?

Mr Davies’ views on less state intervention, at one point made me wonder if he was in fact a true social democrat dressed up in the clothes of Brownite benevolent government! Hardly likely of course, and one is still left with the more crucial issues of what the Tories would do in place of state intervention and what they would more specifically do that was different? Where are the costings and what would be the impact? Education and health in Wales? The recent reforms and reorganisations in the latter have been nothing less than unmitigated disasters.

So as usual, it all comes down to trust and can the Tories be trusted?

To conclude then, no doubt the Tories still have an unwinnable war on their hands for the Welsh Labour heartlands but Carwyn still needs to be on his guard. All empires come to an end, even the first minister’s.

The real problem lies in the fact that he refuses to recognise the fact.

JR

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