Monday 8 February 2021

For Wales, see England


One thing that has been consistent throughout the pandemic is that the ‘Welsh’ Tories criticise the Welsh Government whatever they do and whenever they do it, even it if means that the Tories themselves are reversing the position that they had taken the previous week. So, when Boris Johnson was arguing for tiers and differentiation between English regions, they were demanding that Wales should go even further and have greater differentiation at an even more local level. Now that that has been shown not to work, without even blinking they argue completely the opposite – that there should be no differentiation at all, even between the administrations of the UK let alone at any lower level.

It’s tempting to say that they are just being unprincipled, but that would be unfair on two levels. The first is that most of them wouldn’t know a principle if it bit them and the second is that they have now explained what their great underlying principle is: people in Wales get their news via the same media as people in England and therefore differences in approach are confusing. There is, of course, nothing in that ‘principle’ which applies specifically to Covid or the pandemic, which makes it a really handy principle for people who oppose devolution but are afraid to say so honestly. It allows them both to support the existence of the Senedd and Welsh government and at the same time argue that the Senedd and government should take no decisions which in any way make Wales different from England. It will make a neat slogan for May’s Senedd elections: “Vote for us to implement all English government policies in Wales”. It would be foolish for anyone to assume that that won’t strike a chord with a section of the electorate in Wales, but a strategy aimed at motivating their anti-Wales base and undermining the more openly anti-devolution parties isn’t the same as one to maximise their vote.

Is the principle quite as absolute as it appears though? In the unlikely event of England electing a Labour government, and the even more unlikely event of Wales electing a Tory government which holds office concurrently, would they still be arguing that they had to follow the example of London in all things because people would be confused if they didn’t? One suspects that they haven’t thought that through, although thinking things through is an unfair and unrealistic expectation of a party which is quite happy to spend today arguing the opposite of what they argued yesterday. Still, the good news (for us as well as them) is that worrying about what they’ll do if they ever win an election in Wales is the least of their concerns.

There was one sensible point which Andrew RT Davies did make in his statement, though, when he said that, “Just because Wales can do things differently, it does not mean the Welsh government should always do so”. It’s just a pity that he spoiled such an obvious truth by making it clear that what he actually meant is that it should never do so. He also seems to have completely missed the real lesson of his basic point: if people in Wales are confused as a result of consuming the same media as people in England, might that, just possibly, be highlighting a problem with the lack of a distinctive Welsh media? He’d probably fear a Welsh media, but I have a nagging feeling that he’d be wrong to do so. Recent voting patterns suggest to me that a widely read specifically Welsh media might actually benefit a specifically Welsh Tory brand by not always associating it with Boris Johnson and the English nationalist leadership of the Tory Party. I’m far from convinced – and I say this with a degree of sadness – that the Welsh electorate in the twenty-first century is as instinctively anti-Tory as many would wish to believe.

1 comment:

dafis said...

I posted this elsewhere but worth restating here.

Once again ART Davies gets his entry in early for “Dopey Twat of the week” .

This time he says – “……that Wales should follow England’s approach to Covid-19 because most people in Wales read London-based media. Writing in the Sunday Times he said …….” going on at length to churn out a column of drivel. Tories trying hard not to get elected to Y Senedd. No wonder, so many of them want to rub it out as a further step to complete the assimilation process. As for media well almost all of it is London driven anyway and maybe that is 90% of the problem. People reading lies churned out by corporate rags with an agenda, one that is supported in full by majority of Welsh Tories.

Perhaps they should adopt "Anschluss" as their motto.