New Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has been welcomed to his post as "the third Secretary of State for Wales in the last 22 months" by his Labour shadow, Owen Smith, who says it time for the Conservatives to end what Labour call the Tories' "war on Wales".
He's called on Mr Crabb to "break free from the ceaseless negativity that has characterised his predecessors’ attitude to Wales and the achievements of the Welsh Government". Mr Smith has also drawn attention to the new Secretary of State's past doubts about devolution.
I have written to the new Secretary of State today to formally offer my congratulations, but also to call on him to go into the new job with the aim of standing up for our nation, rather than indulging in politicised attacks on Wales, with the aim of winning votes in England. The Wales Office can play a vital role in being the voice of Wales at Westminster, but it has recently been reduced to a crude propaganda machine attacking the very country it is supposed to represent, as a proxy for attacking the wider Labour Party.
Speaking from the steps of 10 Downing Street Mr Crabb has this morning pledged to ‘work hard for Wales’. I hope and trust that will be the case, and that the war on Wales might end on his watch. Mr Crabb shares with his predecessor a long stated scepticism about the value of devolution, calling it in the past a form of ‘constitutional vandalism’, and he will thus face legitimate questions about his commitment to the devolved settlement and his desire to take it forward.
He not long ago lamented that it was no longer saleable ‘to call for the abolition of the devolved institutions’. Let’s hope he takes a more enlightened view now he’s responsible for them. A key test for Mr Crabb in this regard will be whether he supports the Silk Commission and Labour’s view that our country should have the same, ‘reserved’ model of devolved powers as those applied in Scotland.
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