Welsh Conservatives claim Labour puts “constitution” before jobs
The Conservatives begin their UK party conference today with the Prime Minister vowing not “to go back to how things were before” covid and the Welsh Tories attacking Mark Drakeford for “continuously putting politics and constitutional reform ahead of creating jobs for local people.”It’s the party’s first in-person UK conference for two years and takes place against a backdrop of severe winter pressures: rising food prices and energy bills, HGV driver shortages and changes to UK Government support schemes that even some Conservatives are warning could lead to poverty and hardship.It’s also the first conference since Boris Johnson won 2019’s UK General Election with the support of many first-time Tory voters in former “red wall” (traditional Labour) seats including in North Wales.
That’s why the Prime Minister and other cabinet members will use the conference to set out what they’re doing both now, to deal with the wave of problems and help Britain recover from the pandemic, and over the next couple of years.Boris Johnson is promising that “We didn’t go through Covid to go back to how things were before – to the status quo ante.“Build Back Better means we want things to change and improve as we recover.”The Welsh Secretary, meanwhile, will trumpet UK Government investment into Wales both during the pandemic and for future recovery.Rather than a keynote speech, Simon Hart will lead a panel discussion on the main stage this afternoon (Sunday)He’ll highlight spending such as £200m to aid development of Small Modular nuclear reactors, thought to be something which would bring work to the former Trawsfynydd site, and other investment being made available to projects in Wales through city and regional deals and new pots of money such as the Levelling Up fund.In contrast, he said, politicians in Cardiff Bay, particularly Welsh Labour, are “continuously putting politics and constitutional reform ahead of creating jobs for local people.”
“Whether it’s supporting upgrades on the Cambrian Line, recruiting hundreds of new police officers or investing in green renewable projects in North Wales, the UK Government is committed to giving the Welsh economy a shot in the arm and creating the jobs that people need.“Now, more than ever, we need to be working together across the United Kingdom to ensure that we bounce back stronger from the pandemic, but the devolved administrations seem to be more focused on conversations about power and constitutional minutiae.“In the meantime, the UK Government will continue to get on with the day job and deliver on the people’s priorities”.This is a familiar criticism from senior Tories who seek to portray their opponents as obsessed with constitutional matters and flirting with breaking up the union of the United Kingdom.But it’s they who are risking the union, according to Welsh Labour.More than any recent UK Government, Boris Johnson’s has taken clear steps to arm itself with powers to spend and intervene in devolved areas, signalling a willingness to override devolved administrations.Some call it “muscular unionism” and it’s that willingness to ignore or confront devolved governments which say they have clear mandates in elections that opponents claim will jeopardise the union.Senior Tories privately acknowledge it’s a high risk gamble that could backfire and increase support for independence in Wales but with an emboldened SNP in power in Scotland it’s a gamble they feel has to be taken. It may be out of their hands anyway.