Watch: Drakeford blasts ‘immature’ Tories who ‘deserve to be in the wilderness’
Mark Drakeford has blasted the Welsh Conservatives claiming they “simply lack the maturity”, and suggesting they “deserve” to be in the political “wilderness” in Wales.
During a debate in the Senedd chamber, the First Minister revealed that he wrote to the leaders of both Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives, with an offer of working together on issues on which they agreed.
But he said he only received a response from Adam Price, the Leader of Plaid Cymru, and that he did not hear back from the Tories. He later withdrew the claim after it was revealed that the Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies did write back.
Drakeford made the comments following the unveiling of a wide-ranging cooperation agreement between Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru.
The Welsh Conservatives have criticised the deal, claiming that it is a “move towards Welsh independence”.
— Owen Williams 🏴 (@OwsWills) November 23, 2021
During the debate in the Senedd, Adam Price said: “I thought Darren Millar was remarkably reticent today about the co-operation agreement. Maybe, I don’t know, he’s regretting some of his attack lines overnight.
“But they said—and you said—that the agreement does nothing to help the people of Wales: tell that to the 200,000 children that will now receive free school meals as a result of that; tell that to the extra thousands of children that will receive free childcare.
“They say it does nothing for the NHS and yet, at its heart is the creation of a national care service that will make the single biggest contribution imaginable to solving the long-term challenges of the health service.
“We pledge together to feed our children and care for our elderly, and all they can come up with is their usual negativity. I’m not surprised The Daily Telegraph doesn’t like radical action on second homes, but when they and the Tories line up against Wales, isn’t that the surest sign that we must be doing something right?”
Mark Drakeford said: “Well, Llywydd, by the end of this Senedd term, it’ll be 25 years in the wilderness for the Welsh Conservative Party, and as we’ve heard overnight and heard again today, they work very hard to deserve that position.
“I’ll just point out—they won’t like it again; I can see them shaking their heads from here—straight after the election, we had a debate here on the floor of the Senedd; much was said about the need to work together on issues on which we agreed.
“I wrote immediately after that to the leader of the Welsh Conservative Party here and I wrote to the leader of Plaid Cymru. I received a reply from the leader of Plaid Cymru; I received nothing at all from the leader of the Welsh Conservatives.
“That’s why they’ve never been anywhere near Government in this place, because they simply lack the maturity—the capacity, even—ever to be part of Government here. They’re in the wilderness because it’s where they deserve to be.”
‘New kind of politics’
Adam Price said: “As we say in the foreword to our agreement, the people of Wales in voting to create our democracy also wanted a new kind of politics. Now maybe we can forgive, and indeed pity, the Conservatives for being trapped in their Westminster mindset; many of them after all would rather be there than here.
“They see the world in binary opposites; we try and draw upon the great Welsh tradition of co-operation. I referred to Robert Owen in my remarks yesterday, talking about a Wales built through the co-operation of all to the benefit of each.
“Out of that tradition we have created a new model, a bespoke agreement between one party in Government and one party in opposition, which nobody could have foreseen. But it is part of that desire for a new politics that built this institution and most people in Wales will welcome it because they don’t want politicians who play Westminster parlour games; they want their elected representatives to work together to come up with solutions to our many problems. Isn’t that, after all, the entire point of democracy?”
Mark Drakeford said: “Llywydd, Adam Price is absolutely right to point to the way in which, ever since devolution, it has been possible to create agreements between progressive parties here; parties with ideas, parties with a willingness to take on the responsibility of being in Government.
“The very first summer that I worked in the then Assembly, Llywydd, the summer of the year 2000, every week I met with the head of staff of the Liberal Democrat party here, and we fashioned an agreement.”
‘Cannot be trusted’
Yesterday the Welsh Conservatives claimed that Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price was “using Labour to move Wales towards independence” and that “Labour cannot be trusted to protect Wales’ place in the United Kingdom”.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Constitution, Darren Millar MS, was also critical of the lack of detail in the deal about steps to lighten the burden on Wales’ NHS, saying that the “deal fails to deliver on the priorities of the people of Wales”.
“It does nothing to address the crisis in our NHS; nothing to improve our ailing Welsh infrastructure; and nothing to fire up our sluggish economy,” he said.
“Prioritising more politicians and constitutional reform over action to secure treatment for the one in five on an NHS waiting list or improving take home pay for the low paid is appalling.
“Yet again, Plaid has betrayed its voters with another deal that cements a failing Labour administration into power for years to come.
“The message to voters is clear; vote Plaid, get Labour, and vote Labour, get Plaid. Only the Welsh Conservatives can deliver the real change that Wales needs.”
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