Mark Drakeford a ‘nationalist ideologue’ Telegraph columnist claims
The First Minister of Wales is a “nationalist ideologue” according to a columnist for the Telegraph newspaper.
Henry Hill who is the News Editor for the ConservativeHome website said that Mark Drakeford “very much presents himself as a Welsh nationalist with a decidedly ambivalent attitude towards the Union”.
The First Minister himself has previously condemned nationalism as an “inherently right-wing creed” and said that devolution, which allows Wales to remain part of the United Kingdom, was “the best of both worlds”.
But the Welsh Labour manifesto for the 2020 Senedd elections said that “the UK is a voluntary association of four nations with sovereignty shared among its four democratic legislatures in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”
According to Henry Hill this would mean that the UK was “less a country than the European Union” and amounted to “straightforwardly misrepresenting the UK to their voters”.
“Time and again, the emphasis seems to have been on doing something different for its own sake — perhaps not surprising for a party which once accused Michael Gove of ‘colonial attitudes’ when he dared compare school outcomes in England to those in Wales whilst Education Secretary,” he wrote.
“The spirit of Drakeford’s administration might best be summed up by the snarling headline on the front page of the Western Mail in May of last year, which began: ‘Stay out of Wales, English warned’.”
He added that “those who have only started hearing about devolved politics during the pandemic might not realise is that these attitudes are not a coincidence or an aberration”.
“Drakeford might not lead an avowedly separatist party, as his Scottish counterpart Nicola Sturgeon does, but he very much presents himself as a Welsh nationalist with a decidedly ambivalent attitude towards the Union,” he said.
He added that the cooperation agreement with Plaid Cymru was further proof that Mark Drakeford was a nationalist in disguise.
“To his defenders, all of this posturing is supposed to be a cunning attempt to hold down Plaid Cymru,” he said. “But that hasn’t stopped him striking a deal with the Welsh nationalists to support his administration just last month.
“All of this whilst continuing Labour’s two-decade track record of using devolution, and their dominant electoral position in Wales, to resist important reforms to the public sector, with predictably dire consequences for essential services such as education and health.”
Mark Drakeford himself has fiercely rejected the ‘nationalist’ label, saying that he had grown up in the 60s in the Carmarthen area during the time of Plaid Cymru leader Gwynfor Evans’ victory and had chosen very early to be a socialist instead of a nationalist.
“I’m a fierce supporter of devolution,” he told Radio 4 Today in May 2020. “But I also want Wales to be part of the wider collective in which we have that big insurance policy which the United Kingdom provides in which we pool our resources and we redistribute them out to where the need is greatest.”
“The start of almost every day of my school life was people bring in roadsigns that they had collected overnight, and depositing them in different rooms in the school,” he said.
“But it meant that I had to face very early on really the choice between whether you were a nationalist or you were a socialist. And by the time I was about 14 I had already decided that I was a socialist.
“That the accident of geography, the chance of birth that you’re born in one’s particular spot on the planet, is less important – much as being Welsh matters to me, and it matters to me deeply in terms of the language and the history and the culture and so on.
“But in the end, the interests of working people in Carmarthen are the same as the interests of working people in Canterbury, or other parts of the United Kingdom, and that’s a more important bond.”