Devolution to Wales has sucked all power into a Cardiff Bay “mothership” and needs to be spread out across the rest of Wales, the Welsh Conservative conference heard today.
Suzy Davies, AM for the South Wales West region, told the conference that a Conservative government would give the people of Wales “real agency” over their own lives.
The latest polls show the Conservatives neck and neck with Labour, a year before the next Senedd elections in 2021.
Speaking today Suzy Davies said that years of “empire building” by Labour had “achieved the very opposite of what we were looking for from devolution”.
“Communities in north, mid and west Wales – and even in my own region – feeling as far away from influence over decisions affecting their lives as they ever did,” she said.
“Devolution was about sharing power and wealth across Wales, exactly what it would do under a Welsh Conservative Government: In the hands of socialists, it’s all been sucked back into the mothership control centre run by Labour in Cardiff Bay.
“As a party of smaller government, our values are quite different – they speak to creating opportunities for people, for them to have real agency in their own lives and their communities wherever they can.
“To see government as an enabler, with some needing its help more than others, recognising that we don’t all start in the same place. Kicking our emotional, fatalistic dependency on Labour’s vision of equality which has, in truth, led to little more than a shared mediocrity.”
Suzy Davies also said that 20 years of Labour government had left Wales behind. She said that they could not explain why post-industrial parts of England were faring better than Wales.
“Welsh Gov is a ‘Not Us Guv’ and people in Wales are finally starting to see through it,” she said.
“Twenty years of talk about poverty, about equality, but what we have seen is the failure of Communities First, the absence of a poverty strategy, an overwhelmed and understaffed health service which has led to serious inequality with the rest of Britain.”
Yesterday Welsh Conservative party leader Paul Davies claimed that a Tory government in Wales would tackle profligacy and waste within government.
“We will not be abolishing the assembly, but we need to listen more” to those who wanted the Senedd scrapped, he said.
“A Welsh Conservative Government will cut the cost of politics,” he said. “We will seek to freeze the Assembly Commission’s budget for the full five-year term, and there will be no increase in the number of politicians in Wales under my leadership.”
“I will reshape the government too. I will reduce the size of the Welsh Government from 14 ministers to a magnificent 7. A 50 percent saving on day one, and I will implement an immediate freeze on hiring more and more civil servants.”
His comments were however criticised by other political parties who said that his comments were disingenuous and “completely hypocritical”.
Plaid Cymru AM Delyth Jewell said his speech was a “pathetic attempt at a populist play for power”.
“Under the Tories in Westminster, the civil service has increased substantially and in the Senedd the Tories employ more family members than any other party. They don’t want to end the gravy train,” she said. “They are the gravy train.
“Endless polling has shown that people in Wales want more powers, not less. The Tories will soon find out come May 2021 that they are on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of the argument.
“Paul Davies has shown today that he is nothing but a weak leader of a weak branch of a London based party. We can be rid of both his party and this useless Labour government in 2021 by voting Plaid Cymru.”