Labour likely to be in power in Wales ‘forever’ says prominent Welsh Conservative
The Welsh Conservatives must face up to the fact that Labour is likely to be in power “forever” and look for ways of circumnavigating the Welsh Government, a prominent member has said.
Former Deputy Chair of the North Wales Conservative Party Executive Adrian Mason said that the Senedd election in which 16 seats were won was likely to be a “high watermark” for his party.
Writing for Conservative Home, he welcomed the Levelling Up fund, in which money will be distributed by the UK Government in Wales rather than the Welsh Government, as the only way that “gives those of us in the North some independence from Cardiff Bay”.
There is the “very real possibility is that these very respectable results may turn out to be the high-water mark for the Conservatives in Wales,” he said. “So, the plain question has to be asked: where has it got us?”
“Despite the immense hard work put into the Conservative election campaign, Wales is still trapped in a socialist orbit,” he added. “Nothing has changed, and we now face another five years of Labour government.
“That is the way it has been since devolution was implemented 22 years ago, and unless something extraordinary happens, it is likely to be the position forever. That is the reality we face.”
He added that Wales’ post-industrial valleys seats in the south of the country hadn’t budged towards the Conservatives at all.
“No crumbling ‘red wall’ there, and any chance that they can be turned blue in our lifetimes is for the birds,” he said. “All a party needs to achieve a majority in the Senedd is 31 seats, a mountain as high as Snowdon for the Conservatives to climb.
“So far, we are halfway up – but the path may have run out!”
Without the ability to win an election, the only way to get around the Welsh Government was for money to be given directly to local authorities by Westminster he said.
“Firstly, taxpayers will receive all the funding, not having it ‘top-sliced’ by the EU and, crucially, it will be available directly from Westminster,” he said.
“Again, this is excellent news for local interests here in North Wales. It will allow local authorities to select their own priorities without having it blocked for political reasons by the Welsh Labour Government.
“Although the political outlook in Wales remains discouraging for Conservatives, notwithstanding the good results last week, initiatives such as the Levelling Up Fund and Shared Prosperity Fund gives those of us in the North some independence from Cardiff Bay and allow our elected MPs to influence the direction of travel.”
The UK Government’s attempts to override Wales’ devolved powers was criticised by Economy Minister Vaughan Gething at the House of Commons’ Welsh Affairs Committee yesterday.
“If UK ministers don’t like the approach of the Welsh Government, the answer isn’t to simply to say let’s ignore the election results of the people of Wales who voted for the Welsh Government,” he said.
“If you want to change the Welsh Government, win an election. People have just voted and we’ve got a mandate.
“The answer can’t be that a UK minister in Whitehall says, I don’t like how you’re using your powers so I’m going to change the outcome. That is essentially what is happening.
“There’s been no discussion with us about any of this, and we’re talking about the use of devolved powers here as well.
“If you’re looking for a confrontation it’s a good way to start one.”