Has the time come for a government of national unity in Wales to tackle the coronavirus?

Paul Davies. © Russell Hart/Alamy Live News. First Minister Mark Drakeford AM. Mark Hawkins / Alamy Stock Photo. Kirsty Williams AM. Picture by Welsh Lib Dems. Adam Price: Picture by Plaid Cymru (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Gareth Ceidiog Hughes

The nation is on a war footing.

The inexorable spread of the coronavirus means we are facing the biggest crisis to hit Wales since the Second World War.

It is an enemy that has no ideology, no political creed. It does not discriminate between left and right. It does not discriminate between unionist and nationalist. It is coming for us all, our friends and our families. We cannot be a house divided when it does so. As a nation we must be united. We must stand together if we are to stand at all.

Warring ideological tribes united during the Second World War to defeat the common foe of fascism. There are whispers of something similar happening in Westminster now; the powers that the government wants to tackle this crisis are so great, the potential measures, so stringent, so draconian even, that they need broad-based political support. The burden is too heavy for one party alone.

It is a time for big bold moves; a time to be courageous. I believe the time has come for a government of national unity in Wales to deal with this pandemic. This is not a time when we can afford to have any of our best players sat on the bench.

 

Burden

It is hard to overstate the seriousness of what is happening. What we have on our hands is literally a matter of life and death. Our NHS faces the prospect of being overwhelmed by demand. Some of those who survive the illness could be left needing far more care.

Businesses face ruin through no fault of their own. Workers face job losses. Many jobs have been lost already. Work for freelancers is drying up. Families don’t know if they will be able to pay the bills. The nation has ground to a near-standstill. Our schools are having to close.

There will be strains on mental health with people feeling more alone and isolated than ever; deprived of human interaction. The elderly and those with underlying health conditions are at much higher risk of dying than the rest of the population.

This is the beginning of this crisis. Things are going to get an awful lot worse before they get better. There will be mistakes despite people trying their very best. With such pressure things will inevitably go wrong. Does any one party really want to take the rap when they do? This is a huge responsibility, a huge burden for any government. Is it really worth carrying it alone?

Kinship

There are extraordinarily talented parliamentarians across the Senedd chamber. To make use of those talents in a national emergency is a sign of strength, not weakness.

When the ship of state faces flooding, the water rising fast, it is time for all hands to the pumps.

This is not a time for hyper-partisanship. It is not the time for squabbles or petty point-scoring. We cannot and must not go low, when the stakes are so very high. That does not mean that there will not be any disagreements of course. It does not mean we completely stifle all public debate. That is the lifeblood of our democracy after all. But if there is ever a time to show that there is more that unites us than divides us then this is it.

It is a time for reaching out, across benches and ideological divides, in a spirit of kinship and common purpose.

Our public services are being manned by heroes. They are our nurses, our doctors, our social care workers, our police officers. They are putting their lives on the line so that others may live. The least the rest of us can do to honour them, is work together.

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Walter Huntmax wallisKerry Daviesvicky mollerThomas Moseley Recent comment authors
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A Prophecy is Buried in Eglwyseg
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A Prophecy is Buried in Eglwyseg

We don’t need a national unity government.

People just need to stop buying toilet paper and not act like infants. This is not the crisis which causes the great upheaval, that one will be much worse.

Thomas Moseley
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Thomas Moseley

I could not disagree with you less as someone said. We all need to be careful. I agree that the selfish people who strip the supermarket shelves despite the oft repeated assurance that there is plenty of food (and toilet paper) available need to restrain themselves. What we need most is more testing kits. That is the only way we can say for sure that we have fallen victim to the virus. I am told that the congenitally lazy amongst us skive off home whenever they have a sniffle, relying of the week’s confinement to barracks given them by Boris… Read more »

vicky moller
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vicky moller

Well called for, and probably happening to some extent already. I would love more vertical unity too, up and down society, not just between elected representatives.

Kerry Davies
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Kerry Davies

The problem being that Kirsty is already in government and apart from possibly Adam Price, who is there? I would laugh my socks off if Reckless were invited and utterly furious if any of the grovelling lickspittle Tories who support Westminster cuts even now got their feet under the table.
Their actions have killed thousands and the policies they support, like harsh sanctions, the bedroom tax and the two child cap will kill more before we are done.
Just thought of two words to shoot this idea down like a rabid dog; Mohammad Asghar.

max wallis
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max wallis

If the problem is Labour – unable to voice Welsh interests, meekly accepts a London-centric lockdown and fails to have our own policy to support the N HS frontliners with testing and protective gear – then would a unity government do any better? The signs so far are not promising, but we might replace the health Minister who appears cluelesass.

Walter Hunt
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Walter Hunt

A government of National Unity? Maybe. But maybe it’s time for politicians to take a step back and let the professionals manage this crisis with the politicians providing cash and legislation and encouragement as needed to support this.