Welsh ministers criticises Edwina Currie after she says levelling up funds ‘help to guarantee places vote Conservative’
A Welsh government minister has criticised Edwina Currie after she justified spending levelling up funds in constituencies that voted Conservative in 2019.
Speaking on BBC Wales’ Sunday Supplement the former Conservative Health Secretary said that it was right that money be spent on these areas because it would “help to guarantee that these places recognise the virtue of voting Conservative in future”.
It was revealed in October that the majority of ‘levelling up’ funds for Wales are going to Conservative constituencies.
The Conservatives won 14 of 40 seats in Wales at the 2019 General Election but Tory seats will receive over 60% – £73.2m – of the levelling up cash that is to be spent in Wales.
Quizzed on Sunday Supplement, Edwina Currie was asked by presenter Vaughan Roderick: “But places shouldn’t be receiving money on the basis of who they voted for, should they?”
Edwina Currie responded: “Yes, of course they do! Of course they do! They voted Labour and they didn’t get it, now they voted Tory and they are getting it! And that’s the sort of thing that is going to make a hell of a lot of difference to the political landscape in the future.”
Vaughan Roderick asked: “I just want to get this clear Edwina – you’re saying that places in the north of England that voted Conservative at the last election should get the money and places like the south Wales valleys that didn’t and are identical in terms of poverty and need, shouldn’t?”
She responded: “Well maybe you should have had a conversation like that with the Labour Government when Labour were in power. And actually, large parts of the valleys have received a lot of money in the past, and I’ve seen Cardiff is absolutely fabulous compared to when I used to visit it as a child when my aunt lived in Rhiwbina. It was a very run-down area in many ways.
“The point I’m making is that people voted Conservative because they felt they had been neglected by previous long-term Labour governments who should not have taken them for granted and who did. And that’s the basis of that.
“And the levelling up fund and the impact it has and the improvement that it makes will help to guarantee that these places recognise the virtue of voting Conservative in future. That’s exactly how it works.”
Responding on social media, Welsh Government Counsel general and Minister for the Constitution, Mick Antoniw, said that it “sounded to me that what Edwina Currie was justifying was the abuse of public money to buy votes”.
“If so there is a simpler description – corruption- at the heart of this Tory government.”
However, Edwina Currie said that levelling up funds were being spent on the basis that large parts of Wales and England had been “neglected” in the past by Labour governments.
“They had ample opportunity when we had Labour Prime Ministers for improvements. These areas have been losing population, losing hope and they voted Tory – and they’ve got the money.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.