GB News presenter says Wales is ‘one-party state’ and accuses Mark Drakeford of ‘balderdash-on-steroids’
A GB News presenter has said that Wales is a “one party state” and accused the First Minister Mark Drakeford of talking “balderdash-on-steroids”.
Neil Oliver, a long-time opponent of Covid measures who presents a weekly current affairs and interview programme on the channel, hit out at Wales’ Covid restrictions which he claimed had made the situation worse rather than better.
Writing in The Times he said that both Wales and Scotland’s lockdowns had been more “draconian” than England, despite earlier comparing Boris Johnson and Ker Starmer to Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
So far in the UK, there have been over 154,000 deaths involving Covid, with 9,307 of those in Wales. Mark Drakeford said this week that he had followed the scientific advice on restrictions throughout the pandemic, and was loosening them as ONS data and case rates showed that Wales was past the peak.
But Neil Oliver wrote: “It would hardly be fair to lampoon only Johnson and Starmer — especially in the face of the policy balderdash-on-steroids waved around in the one-party states that are the private fiefdoms of Scotland and Wales.
“First ministers Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford have likewise outdone themselves in making their respective bad situations infinitely worse than they need have been.
“I have no doubt that lockdowns and the rest have done more damage, of almost every conceivable sort, than anything inflicted by Covid itself.
“The evidence of the inappropriateness of lockdown was there long ago, for anyone with half an eye, and yet both Sturgeon and Drakeford ground forward stubbornly with enforced closures and the rest, and on an even more draconian scale, than anything applied in England.”
On Friday Mark Drakeford had claimed that the real reason the UK Government was dropping restrictions more quickly in England than Wales was to distract from the “awful mess that it finds itself in”, according to Mark Drakeford.
During an interview with Naga Munchetty on BBC Breakfast, the Welsh First Minister took aim at Boris Johnson’s regime for not “following the science” and for trying to “grab headlines” with its approach to the pandemic.
The comments come amid a turbulent period for the UK Prime Minister, with calls for him to resign, amid reports of boozy parties being held in Downing Street during lockdown, a defection of an MP from the Conservatives to Labour, and allegations that Tory MPs have been “blackmailed” into dropping their opposition to UK Government policies.
The Welsh Government announced a phased easing of restrictions on Thursday, with a gradual retun to alert level zero by January 28.
This contrasts with a much faster dropping of restrictions in England, where policies such as mandatory face coverings in public places and Covid passports have been scrapped.
Mark Drakeford was asked during the interview on BBC Breakfast why he had not followed the approach taken in England.
Naga Munchetty said: “I’m sure many people in Wales will be looking to restrictions that have been eased in England and thinking, why are we not there? Why are we not at that stage if we’re hearing, the same, a similar message from the UK Government that looks after the rules in England that numbers are coming down, hospital admissions, the pressure is easing on the NHS?”
Mark Drakeford said: “Well we’ve always taken a different approach in Wales, one that does things step by step, in line with the science.
“We’re a government that doesn’t need to grab headlines to distract attention from the difficulties that we would be in if we were in the same position as the government of England and I think people in Wales have demonstrated their support for that more cautious, more step by step approach because it has kept Wales safe, and it’s kept Wales open.”
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