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Former Labour MP says ‘pitiful’ Drakeford outburst shows he wants ‘all the power but none of the responsibility’

23 Oct 2022 4 minute read
Mark Drakeford and Tom Harris

A former Labour MP has said that Mark Drakeford’s “pitiful” outburst in the Senedd shows that he wants “all the power but none of the responsibility”.

Writing in the right-leaning Telegraph newspaper, Tom Harris, who was Labour minister but now works for the UK Government’s Scotland Office, said that the First Minister had been full of “a spectacle of frothing, self-righteous disdain” when challenged about his own government’s record.

His comments come after Mark Drakeford and the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, clashed in emotional scenes at the Senedd on Tuesday.

Mark Drakeford’s voice trembled with emotion as he erupted at Andrew RT Davies over his criticism of the Welsh NHS, in a clip watched by millions online.

But Tom Harris said that it simply showed that the Welsh Government couldn’t handle any criticism of its record, and that the argument made in 1997 that “devolved politics would enhance local accountability” had proved to be incorrect.

“There is, however, a critical exception, because devolution has worked for one small section of the population: unimpressive politicians who, away from the glare of Westminster, are able to exert enormous power with little accountability,” he said.

“When their policies are questioned, we see a spectacle of frothing, self-righteous disdain, as happened this week in the Senedd.”

He added: “Where is the accountability in the devolution settlement today? Both Holyrood and the Senedd have been granted significantly more powers – and cash – than was ever envisaged in the 1980s and 90s.

“The two devolved bodies now control almost every essential service for the people who elect them, but this framework has not led to major improvements in transparency. They have all the power but none of the responsibility that comes with it.

“Such failures have only exacerbated political apathy and the disunity of our country (two things devolution campaigners claimed it would stop).

“But worst of all, they have created breeding grounds for bad policies and even worse politicians. Can anyone point to the current crop of MSPs and MSs and say, sincerely, that devolution has provided us with a new generation of Nye Bevans, Donald Dewars or John Smiths, or that they have at least governed competently and inspiringly? Of course not. We were sold a lie.”

‘Calm down’

Mark Drakeford’s outburst came after Andrew RT Davies had quoted a member of the public who had said that Wales was like a “third-world country” when it came to healthcare.

Mark Drakeford angrily defended NHS workers: “You have chosen to use that language here this afternoon. What do those people face? They face cuts to their pay because of the policy of your Government, and now they face cuts to the budgets that the health service itself will have at its disposal.

“It is shocking. It is absolutely shocking to me, but you will think that you can turn up here this afternoon with a mess that your party has made to the budgets of this country to the reputation of this country around the world.

“You think you turn up here this afternoon and claim some sort of moral high ground? What sort of world do you belong in?”

The First Minister became upset after Andrew RT Davies had asked him a question about long ambulance waiting times.

Andrew RT Davies had earlier referred to the case of Keith Morris, of Merthyr Tydfil, who had been waiting for an ambulance on the floor in pain for 15 hours after a fall.

“You haven’t said once in response to my two questions, the solution that the government is proposing to take this pressure out of the ambulance service and allow them to get on with the job that they do, which is a fantastic job when it works correctly,” Andrew RT Davies said.

“Now what I want to leave this chamber understanding is what the roadmap from the Welsh Government is, as we go further into the winter months to alleviate these problems, so that in Aneurin Bevan will not be turning in his grave, and a government that is responsible for the health service has a solution to the problems.”

Llywydd Elin Jones had to bring proceedings to a pause.

“I understand that the arguments and the feelings run high on these issues from a variety of perspectives,” she said.

“I understand some of the shouting taking place, but I won’t have people pointing in anger and just sticking and gesticulating in anger at other people.

“Can we just take a moment just to calm down?”


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John Richardson
John Richardson
1 month ago

Former Labour MP writing for the Telegraph. Says it all really.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
1 month ago

He lost his seat, quit the Labour party, started voting Tory, works for the Secretary of State for Scotland and is rewarded with well-paid sinecures on quangos invented purely to reward cynical hypocrites like him.
A right sleazeball and moral vacuum by whom any decent human would be proud to be criticised.

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

Another Tory who just wants to talk down devolution, and yes a Tory, despite serving as a Labour MP, he was a director of “vote leave” in Scotland during the Brexit run up, and is an advisor the the Conservative gov on Scottish issues. He declared he would vote Tory in the 2019 election. No links to Cymru at all.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago

‘A former Labour MP has said that Mark Drakeford’s “pitiful” outburst in the Senedd shows that he wants “all the power but none of the responsibility”.’

As Drakeford is a proven committed Unionist it would be more accurate for Tom Harris to say of him that the First Minister wants a some power and some responsibility but not so much that the existance of the Union is in anyway threatened.

adopted cardi
adopted cardi
1 month ago

the one thing that Mark Drakeford has in abundance is – COMPASSION.
In my opinion, and speaking as a Plaid Cymru voter, he is the best Government leader, a real hero, we have had since probably Attlee. All our troubles in the NHS and everywhere else can be laid fairly and squarely and only at the door of the tory government in westminster.

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

And to think, only a few years ago, oik’s like this and the gutter press would not even think it worthy to print anything about our gov or its leader, and now
they cant wait to try and put the “boot in”. How far we have come in such a short period to be so high on the English establishments hit list.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
1 month ago

Can anyone actually tell me and everyone else in Wales what MD proposes to do to prevent people waiting so long for ambulances. He avoided the answer in his hissy fit which is funny to watch but is not relevant when it comes to sorting this problem out.

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

Try reading the labour party manifesto, it should give you a clue.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

Not much use when you or your family are waiting for an ambulance for 15 hours- Might held pass the time i suppose.

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
1 month ago

Yes, that’s horrible, but where’s the context? How many ambulances were available in South Wales on that day? How many hours had the Paramedics been working that day? How many emergencies had been called into the Ambulance service? Those are just the questions I can think of off the top of my head. The bottom line is that regardless of someone else saying that line, Andrew R. T. Davies choosing to attack the NHS and Welsh Ambulance service by comparing them to Health services in a ‘Third world country’ is disgusting, especially if your own party is responsible for cutting… Read more »

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
1 month ago

That requires the money to pay for more ambulances and the people to drive them. The money to pay for them has been cut every year for 12 years in a row by the Tory Westminster Government. Try putting your question in the proper context or educate yourself on how these things work, or should work!? I have many issues with the Labour party, their commitment to providing good health care, when adequate money is available, isn’t one of them. To put it mildly the Tories are disingenuous in the Senedd. They talk about raising the Welsh health budget, but… Read more »

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
1 month ago

The English NHS has similar problems due to the bed occupation problem. Plaid Cymru is trying to forward the National Care Service so as to remove the queue of well patients waiting for care packages. There are extra problems recruiting home carers due to the extra travelling between people’s homes because of poor public transport connections in rural areas which more often now relies on expensive car ownership which carers on poor pay are not able to afford. We in Wales need extra expenditure for the NHS here. However, MD must now realise that it may never come through Westminster.… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

I’m no lover of Welsh Labour or Mark Drakeford being a proud Welsh nationalist, who wants rid of this ball & chain British Union that does hold us back. It’s that system of governance that has really damaged Wales who negate their responsibility. Just see the hundreds of highly dangerous coal tips tettering over villages & town ready to kill more if our children like Aberfan. But is BritNat ex-Labour MP Tom Harris talking about thst. No. He must realise in his defense of antagonist Andrew RT Davies that Mark Drakeford who is usually lathargic at best just reacted to… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Y Cymro
Ieuan Evans
Ieuan Evans
1 month ago

Who the hell is Tom Harris. I’ve never heard of him. The fact that as ex labour MP now willing to expouse such crap in Tory rag sums him up.

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
1 month ago

I would take criticism of Mark Drakeford by a former Labour MP seriously, except that he works for the Tories. So, either he’s a turncoat or politician for hire, writing propaganda in the Torygraph failing to attack Teflon Drakeford after Andrew R. T. Davies screwed up monumentally at FMQs. The gall of these people 🙄😒

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
1 month ago
Reply to  Owain Morgan

he’s scum, worse than a genuine tory.

Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
1 month ago

Tom who? Gobby unelectable nobody working for the Tories.

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
1 month ago

This is the Blairite slime ball that went to work for the tories in the Scotland office and took over from Dan Hodges at the torygraph, Why does he assume he has anything worth saying, just another waste of space.

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

There is a small degree of truth in THs’ comment about “ Welsh “ Labour re criticism. The local authority arrogance of Valleys Labour was well known and the poor opposition whether Plaid or Residents etc however small always got it at every meeting. MD however though perhaps too academic for some and likely to get a nose bleed if he travels too far north or west – has exemplified a a far more cooperative and evidence based time on most subjects. His non flap-able and courteous manner is well respected and contrasts to ARTDs Tory ‘ leadership style ‘… Read more »

Dafydd
Dafydd
1 month ago

Highter taxation to create world class public services – vote up for YES down for NO.

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