‘He’s brought Wales to its knees’ – Telegraph celebrates Drakeford announcement that he will step down in 2024
The Telegraph has celebrated the First Minister’s announcement that he intends on standing down by the end of 2024, saying that he has “brought Wales to its knees”.
Writing in the newspaper Matthew Lynn said that Mark Drakeford’s “pitiful record” was all the evidence needed that “devolution is a disaster”.
The columnist listed a four-day week and universal basic income as examples, despite these not having been implemented.
“If ever a really bad idea is under discussion, you can rely upon Drakeford to champion it,” Matthew Lynn said.
“Over his four years in power, Wales has been turned into a laboratory for the kind of half-baked policy ideas that don’t usually make it out of the seminar rooms of second-rate universities.”
The Welsh Government’s bid to tackle the housing market by allowing councils to raise tax on second homes and narrowing the definition of a holiday let was another example, he said.
“Instead of embracing the money they bring into the country, the First Minister has pandered to the most narrow-minded instincts of his nationalist rivals by trying to bully them out of existence,” he said.
“At times, Drakeford has appeared to be waging a one-man war against any form of productive activity.
“During lockdown, he championed the kind of petty authoritarianism for which the pandemic was the perfect excuse.”
Matthew Lynn added that Mark Drakeford’s greatest failure was a tendency to blame all of Welsh devolution’s ills on Westminster and the UK Government rather than taking responsibility himself.
“He is currently complaining that he is unable to pay striking nurses any more, because the UK Government will not give him the money,” he said.
“He is doing so while refusing to use his own powers to vary income tax, which might well enable him to pay for it himself.
“Drakeford represents the worst of devolution. He glories in all the trappings of power, but avoids any genuine responsibility.
“Over a hundred years, Wales has produced some of Britain’s greatest leaders. David Lloyd George, Nye Bevan and Roy Jenkins were all major figures, capable of reshaping the political landscape. They were reformers of vision.
“Devolution, however, has elevated political pygmies to positions of power and influence. Drakeford will leave behind a legacy of failure, whinging and division. Wales is capable of much better – and if devolution can’t produce more inspiring leaders, we would be better off without it.”
The First Minister confirmed earlier this week that he will stand down from the post by the end of 2024 at the latest – and hinted that he might only have a little over a year left in the post.
Mark Drakeford told WalesOnline that his successor would need about two years in the post before the May 2026 Senedd election.
It comes after he told an Al Jazeera journalist in Qatar last month that it was “time we elected somebody who looks ahead to the next 25 years”.
He added then that his plans were to stay in the role for five years, which would take him to the end of 2023.
“I’m in my fifth year as First Minister and I always thought that around that period of time was when it will be right to hand on to somebody else,” he told WalesOnline.
“In the middle of this term there will be a moment when the right thing to do is to make sure there is somebody who sees their political horizons not toward the end of the term but beyond that so that they can get themselves into the job, get themselves known to people, and begin to shape the way they think things could happen after that.”
Asked whether that meant stepping down in 2024 was likely, he answered: “I wouldn’t be ruling that out. I certainly don’t think I will be in the job beyond that.
“I had two years [before the election] and I think you do need that sort of period to work your way into the job, make sure people know a bit about you, and then there’s a lot of thinking that goes into any election manifesto preparation and all of that.”
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