Welsh Tories ‘like a rugby fan in row Z taking credit for a Wales win’ over Covid restrictions says Labour member
The Conservatives taking credit for Wales easing Covid restrictions is like a rugby fan shouting from row Z taking credit when Wales win, a Labour Senedd Member has said.
Ogmore representative Huw Irranca-Davies made the comparison in the Senedd today during a debate on a Welsh Conservative motion to scrap most existing restrictions.
His intervention came after Conservative health spokesperson Russell George said that he was “pleased” that “the Welsh Government has listened to our calls” to ease restrictions.
Huw Irranca-Davies said that “it was the equivalent of shouting, for 25 minutes consistently, from row Z in the stands, ‘Give the ball to Shane, give the the ball to Shane’ and then Biggar kicks the drop goal to win in the final minute, and you pat yourself on the back and say ‘Well done’.”
Conservative Senedd Member Russell George however responded that it was “right” for his party to question the ” the confusing and contradictory regulations” brought forward by the Welsh Government.
“When you bring forward restrictions, these are always balances that have to be taken into account,” he said. “What I’m saying and what we’re saying as Welsh Conservatives today is that the Welsh Government on this occasion got that balance wrong.
“You’ve got to think, when restrictions are brought in, about the consequences to businesses, especially along the border. Many people in north Wales go across the border for hospitality, and in south Wales they go into other parts of England.
“In my own constituency, they just travel a few minutes up the road for hospitality in Shrewsbury and into Shropshire. So, again, you’ve got to think about the consequences that these restrictions are having on businesses when you’re making those balanced choices.”
Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth said they would be abstaining on the motion as it was “already dated” given that the Welsh Government had already announced a two week easing of restrictions.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?” he said. “And listening to Russell George there passing judgment on something several weeks after the evidence that was presented to us on the threats that the scientists that had advised the Government thought that we faced at that point, and they came to conclusions based on what they had in front of them at that time.
“And the suggestion perhaps that Wales shouldn’t have taken steps because England was taking a more cavalier approach is strange to me. It was about protecting and safeguarding the people and health service of Wales. That is the task for the Welsh Government, and, in general, people will find it very difficult to take any lessons from the party of parties at Downing Street.”
He later added that he was “frankly disgusted with the Conservatives’ attitude in this debate this afternoon. It’s the most COVID-denying, the most dismissive of the realities of the losses of the past couple of years, that I have ever heard.
“Are you ashamed that you’re a party whose own leader rubbed our faces in it through his flagrant disregard for the sacrifices all of us have had to make? Do you really think that what we should be doing now is just wishing somehow that this had never happened? Is that the best that the right-wing Welsh Conservatives have got to offer now?”
Chief Whip Dawn Bowden meanwhile criticised the Welsh Conservatives’ arguments, saying that they “often slip into suggestions that there are some ulterior motives driving decisions in Wales, which is indicative of their drift to a paranoid, negative and increasingly irrelevant form of right-wing politics”.
“The Welsh Conservatives could, of course, choose to propose an approach of their own, and they could do this without fear of upsetting their masters in London because, as we now know, their masters in London don’t even know who they are, and which does of course beg the question: if your own leadership doesn’t take you seriously, why should this Senedd, this Government, or the people of Wales take you seriously?”
Gareth Davies criticised Plaid Cymru for claiming that the Conservatives’ stance was “disgusting” while “not taking a stance themselves”.
He also said that the Welsh Government’s position had diverged from that of Labour at Westminster.
“At the weekend, the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer unveiled his party’s 10-point living with COVID plan, and demanded an end to lockdowns. A string of shadow Ministers did the media rounds, criticising the UK’s plan B as unnecessary,” he said.
“Yet here in Wales we have a Welsh Labour Government implementing more stringent measures at every juncture. The Welsh Government needs to urgently unveil its own 10-point plan and rule out future lockdowns.”
He added: “I was very disappointed to see a Welsh Government politicise the whole issue and create divisions along the border, saying it’s all the UK Government’s fault. You are the Welsh Government, you have the devolved powers.
“You’ve wanted from day one for this to be a devolved matter to Wales, and yet you decide to respond to a COVID-19 debate and politicise the whole thing and talk about division. And that’s so true of the Welsh Government, of how they’ve handled this whole pandemic and why we need to have a COVID-19 inquiry specific to Wales.”
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