In previous columns I have alluded to the essential job specs a politician needs in order to be successful ie humour and charm. Tony Blair had it in spades – I am immediately reminded here of his sacking of Ron “Clapham Common” Davies as recorded in his autobiography – and Boris has enough of both to see him breaching the security gates of No 10, if only he will admit it.
On a personal level I have always felt that if more women were calling the shots of sovereignty, the world would undoubtedly be a more peaceful place. Margaret Thatcher, Cleopatra and Catherine the Great notwithstanding.
Readers will know that I recently interviewed Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru in the Welsh Assembly. Well, a week ago I also interviewed Kirsty Williams, her opposite for the Liberal Democrats. Before going further, I am compelled to point out that both politicos were full of steam and passion and were also able to laugh out loud at my occasional political heresies eg my claiming that of course the Valleys will vote Plaid, the voters up there are still pouring Strongbow super-strength onto their cornflakes for want of anything better to do.
So, what is Kirsty and her party all about?
She’s a Swansea girl through and through and like most Welsh girls (Leanne included) full of the verbals but with a lump of Welshy charm thrown in for good measure. She is possessed of a genuine love for Wales but it must be said, a love that now seethes with anger and disappointment at what is being done to it and its people.
It was of course irresistible to explore with Kirsty the implications of the PISA report and Welsh political life generally. Her views were refreshingly bold and unequivocal, firebrand time again and nothing wrong with this, it’s long overdue in Welsh politics – she has never been a Cardiff university madrassa alumna either!
“For anyone watching the 10 0’ Clock News last night,” she began, “the Pisa report will have dire consequences for the Welsh economy. We have the highest levels of low skilled youth in the UK. Companies will not invest here. The Welsh government is bereft of new and fresh ideas, the funding gap per pupil between Wales and England is not being addressed properly and my frustration with all this is that Labour is obsessed with consultations, commissions and reports but nothing ever happens. It’s the rugby club mentality; it doesn’t matter if we lose boys, as long as we lose with a bit of hwyl (spirit) that’s alright.”
The old ways are just not delivering anymore There are issues with the Welsh civil service too. It doesn’t like being challenged by politicians or new ideas. Crachach time again. The Welsh government has no ambition, Wales should be at the forefront, the Welsh are being let down!”