How the Welsh Conservatives can win the 2021 Senedd election
Charlie Evans, Deputy Chairman of the Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire Conservative Association
Just 23 years ago, not one person in Wales was represented by a Conservative MP, as Wales was swept up as part of the 1997 Blair landslide win.
Two years later, they didn’t fare much better in Wales’ inaugural Assembly election. The Tories won only one constituency in Monmouthshire, despite facing the unpopular Alun Michael as Welsh Labour leader.
For a hundred years Labour have dominated this country. And in the 21 years of devolution, Labour have been a permanent feature in government, either alone or in a coalition.
Given this unprecedented electoral domination, you would think Wales lives in a land of unparalleled wealth, schools are centres of excellence within the United Kingdom and its hospitals are unrivalled in terms of their care.
However, the reality couldn’t be more different. Wales has the highest percentage of relative income poverty in the UK, at nearly a quarter. In education, Wales is the worst country of the UK for reading, maths and science. In health, 28% of patients don’t get seen within a four-hour target time in Accident and Emergency. Ambulance waiting times are getting worse with 27% of patients in life-threatening circumstances not being seen within the eight-minute target. More than half of Welsh adults are obese or overweight.
Wales as a nation is also the unhappiest in the UK and nearly a third of the people of Wales binge drinks. From a Covid-19 perspective, we can only just about manage a thousand tests a day whilst England teeters around the 100,000 mark.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Wales doesn’t have to be the poor man of the UK anymore. Wales is a naturally conservative country. We, the Welsh, value family and local communities in the form of the rugby club, the pub, the village hall, the church. We value rural life, the heartbeat of this great nation. We love the arts and beauty, from the artisan streets of Portmeirion to the poetry of Dylan Thomas.
We value our rich history and culture, with our language thriving despite attempts to curb it. We are a country of the unique customs seen in our Eisteddfods. We are a nation known for its great religious revivals where Nonconformism spread, where church and family life were at the heart of the human experience. Our natural conservatism is what makes Wales special.
Yet we are no rural idyll. We also know we can also be at the heart of global innovation, as we were when the Industrial Revolution brought wealth and jobs to Wales. And despite a minority in Wales believing that we live in an English Empire, nostalgic about an age gone before, we are proud partners with our friends in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland forming the great family of nations – the United Kingdom.
So Wales should be natural Tory territory – patriotic and conservative in nature. But Wales has been patronised and taken advantage of by the Labour Party, keeping her on a drug of dependency. They have become complacent, knowing that Wales will vote them back in however little effort they put into solving our problems.
Wales is certainly not Plaid Cymru territory. They are a party who seek to use the power of the state to enforce their version of Wales on everyone else. Conservatives believe that Wales, her values, and her culture are strong enough to survive through the skill of persuasion and argument.
Some are concerned by what they see as a devo-scepticism within the Conservative party. But this is caused by frustration at an institution that was created by Labour in order to assert Labour control over Wales. The Labour Party wanted devolution for Wales because they knew they would be elected repeatedly – that was always the plan back in 1997.
And the reason is that the Welsh electorate is very uninformed as to where decisions are made, due to a virtually non-existent Welsh media, a UK media that doesn’t report properly on Wales and a Labour Government who sing and champion its own virtues when things go well and shy away from any responsibility or accountability when the going gets tough.
In the Covid-19 crisis, Welsh eyes seem to have finally been opened and they have realised that, actually, there is a Welsh Government that has quite serious powers. The Welsh Government may be basking in that attention at the moment but this heightened perception of who is in charge in Wales will not go away with the coronavirus pandemic. People will now know at whose feet the blame lies for Wales’ present condition.
So what do the Welsh Conservatives need to do to win next year’s Senedd election?
First of all, respect devolution. It is here to stay, and it is good – power taken closer to the hands of local people, a nice via media between Westminster centralisation of power and Welsh independence, a model to keep Wales as a strong distinctive voice within the strongest Union of nations in world history.
It is why I voted for Brexit – to take power back closer to the people. It is something that the Conservatives support naturally, and once we loosen Labour’s one-party grip on power in Wales our natural frustration at Welsh devolution will go with it. Polls show that the people of Wales very much support devolution too. So if we want to taste electoral success at the ballot box next year, we must respect the institution of the Welsh Parliament as the people of Wales do.
We also need to commit to capital investment in Wales. This country lags behind like other parts of the United Kingdom. Mid and West Wales’ rail infrastructure is significantly behind the pace. Towns like Aberystwyth are connected to the Midlands but not its neighbours to the south. Bus services are irregular outside the Valleys and the cities in the south. Private sector involvement in north and mid-Wales is limited, with a high dependency on jobs in the public sector. We need Wales to become a desirable place to live and work, not just to retire to at the end of a career.
But this is a problem which Boris Johnson encouragingly seems to want to address – levelling up areas outside the economic centre in London and the south-east. A Welsh Conservative Government would put Wales in a fantastic position to go into tough negotiations with Westminster and get our share of the funding we need. We would be the driver of our own success, rather than blaming Westminster at every hurdle.
Thirdly, a commitment to reform public services. There is this myth perpetuated by the political left that the more money public services have, the better they will operate. Where we can find the money to fund these things, let’s do so. But we have to address the massive mismanagement of the NHS, our schools and other vital public services.
We also need to address the social problems that blight this country. Often we have adopted the laissez-faire approach, the lift yourselves up by the bootstraps, the rags to riches stories to inspire. Whilst encouraging personal and family responsibility and encouraging everyone to achieve their potential, we need to level Wales up, aspiring to give her the same opportunities as London and the South-East.
But we cannot lambast the Labour government for its record without having compelling ideas and solutions ourselves to tackle alcohol addiction, substance abuse, crime, homelessness and financial insecurity.
Back in 1999, I am not sure how many people in Wales would have believed that just two decades later in 2019’s snap winter General Election, that the Conservatives would win 14 seats, 36% of the popular vote just 4% lower than the Labour Party, a party who has won the popular vote in every Welsh General or Assembly Election since 1922.
99 years later, we have the opportunity to end our miserable run by electing a Conservative administration in 2021. The latest Welsh Barometer Poll shows us polling higher than Labour. We were also the only party to respect Wales’ mandate to leave the European Union whilst Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems undermined it at every stage.
We are in a strong position but nothing is guaranteed. In 2021, the political landscape, in the aftermath of Covid-19, will be very different. Taking this election for granted isn’t an option – anything less than a comprehensive win will give Wales another Labour government, in partnership with Plaid Cymru, for another five years.
The opportunity is here. We can truly prosper as a unique, distinct power within the family of the United Kingdom. We can do this. We must do this. And if we do, the next chapters of the Story of Wales could be our best yet.
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Some good points. Welsh Labour has presided over years of dismal failure in every sector. Throwing money at publicly owned services and institutions without a plan and some idea of making them efficient does not work. You only need to look at Public Health Wales and England and their multiple c**k ups over centralising testing and ppe and compare with the decentralised German (and South Indian and everywhere else) model to see that. Welsh politics needs a boot up the arse and Tory victory might well shake up the Cardiff elite. We need to stop harking back to the ‘glory… Read more »
Agree with you, but not re global warming challenges… if we fail to act there will be no bright future,
Autumatic unsubscribe for publishing this windbag’s nonsense. The Tories hate Wales and would have us working ourselves to death again to assuage their parochial voting base in middle England if they had the opportunity. The absolute last thing Wales needs is the party of ideological inequality in a position where they can do further damage.
What policies would you promote to increase prosperity in Wales then? Not just windbag slogans (‘inequality yadda yadda yadda’). Tell us how you will fund your plan.
If this ever happened I would move to Scotland-never trust a tory. Our parliament would have most o their powers handed back to London on a plate
Good to see the Tories posting articles here! Good to see all sides of the arguments…..would be good to see some more Larour & Liberal articles here also!
Agree, we need to see all or none. I’d prefer none, but ‘all’ will do. I have a sneaking suspicion that, given the unionist stances in the other parties, it will remain Plaid heavy given the (fully admitted and, for me, welcome) bias of Nation.
He forgot to include the Covid-19 death rates comparison: 36.6 deaths per 100,000 people in Wales, 52.7 deaths per 100,000 in England (Channel 4 News Fact Check).
I am not a Tory but I think a shake up and pragmatic policymaking is needed (‘let’s do what works’, and look at Ireland Germany etc). If you didn’t think any articles written by politicians and their staff would be on this site you obviously have not read and previous days postings.
You mean the European countries, ha!
Mr Evans. You voted for Brexit in order to ‘take power back’ – follow that instinct through to the end. You will find that you could back a separation of, first, the Welsh arm of your party, then your nation from the very union that has allowed Cymru to be in the parlous situation she is in. We need capital investment. Agreed. We won’t get any serious interest bar the gleaning of an embedded low-pay workforce whilst we remain part of this imbalanced union. We may get a ‘stronger voice’ (demographically implausible except to ‘save the union’, at which point… Read more »
Unlike some others, I applaud the decision to publish this barrow load of arrant nonsense. I am amazed at this time that any Tory should stick their head over the parapet, given the abject failure of Johnson’s government to protect its population during the Covid19 crisis. Anyone who thinks they are a safe bet seriously needs to compare us with Germany. We should be crying from the rooftops about the holocaust ripping through our care homes, the sheer wanton lack of preparedness throughout the UK (yes, of which Wales is a part) and the consistent lying to the public. I… Read more »
What policies, on industry and tax for example would you put forward to help Wales become more prosperous? You know Brexit is a fact so bearing that in mind what would you do?
Clwych, clwych. Totally agree. I’m not sure how anyone who refuses to listen to others opinions can expect to have their own respected. Though some will already believe this nonsense, and will therefore continue to believe it, it is quite likely that it will make others even more resolved to ensure that the Tory distopia does not control the Senedd
Crikey – are you OK? I am writing from Pembs which has Welsh-speaking local ex-banker as Tory AM, who leads his party. And we have a council-house boy from Haverfordwest as our Tory MP. I did not vote Tory here, but I will buy this Article. But being fully aware that the writer may not be stating mainstream Tory policy. We have something to work with here. Welsh Toryism + say Plaid leftiness in coalition could be just the thing Wales needs to escape from Labour’s 100 wasted years in Wales. Pity it won’t happen – because Plaid have lost… Read more »
A good article which does a good job of pinpointing Labour’s culpable incompetence at running Wales. I have a genuine question though. The Conservatives define themselves as a Unionist party – in fact their full name is “The Conservative and Unionist Party”. Therefore we can take it that their abiding interest is to preserve the Union at all costs. But how can that be squared with a promise to bring the Welsh economy up to the level of a normal country? If a Conservative-run Senedd really did succeed in delivering economic growth and reducing Wales’s crushing levels of poverty, they’d… Read more »
Hello. I don’t normally intervene ‘below the line’ but could I remind people not to post multiple comments under different aliases? It’s just been flagged up that there are quite a few very similar comments being posted under different names from the same IP addresses. This is contrary to the community standards as set out above and will lead to IP addresses being blocked. No one wants that I’m sure – because it’s faff for me and stops you commenting. I want to keep the comments section as open and accessible as possible (no one wants to go back to… Read more »
Ie wir ! We’ve had to cope with two-faced people for decades, indeed lifetimes, but scribblers with many names are a new pest that has to be eradicated. Diolch Ifan .
I’m a different Huw Davies (I now use my middle initial) but I’d like to point out that VPNs are plentiful and checking someone’s IP address doesn’t prove anything. I often use one to avoid spam and cookies, which is an unpleasant combination in every sense. There have even been a few times where I agreed with so much of what the other Huw Davies had posted that I thought i might have written it in some sort of fugue state and thought I’d better add the J just to remind myself! Fi yw y fi yw y fi… a… Read more »
It’s definitely time for another party to have a go at the Senedd, Labour are making devolution look bad. I must confess to being a little frustrated at Plaid Cymru’s stubborn outright refusal to consider a possible coalition with the Conservatives. I say that as a lifelong Plaid voter. Providing Plaid were not junior partners to the extent of the Lib Dems in Westminster 10 or so years ago, they would at be able to have a big say in changing Wales for the better. Some comments on here overreact massively to the fact that a Conservative has been given… Read more »
Absolutely, the biggest threat to devolution is not from the Brit right it’s from the incompetence and arrogance of the Welsh left who think they own devolution.
My little self is centre-right, but over the last years I have come to distrust, and actively dislike the Welsh Conservatives. Just this week, they sat in silence while one of their own in England attacked our Senedd. Brexit is heavily dependent on a lunatic currently in charge in Washington, and even if he is defeated for inflicting grievous bodily harm to the United States, his successors will have it in for what’s left of the UK, or Yuk as one of them said last year. Why? Because of the very influential Irish vote, especially among Democrats. This Island may… Read more »
j.h – I did read reports of Tories from this side of the Clawdd telling the daft Pole from t’other side to take his nose and stick it elsewhere. I vaguely recall that one of them was the sitting M.P for Maldwyn, maybe Simon Hart was the other. In the Commons the notorious ar*e licker from Bridgend got put down by Boris when asking a non question about the Senedd in Wales. Boris didn’t thank the muppet for the question and went on to say that he found things generally worked quite well with the devolved administrations. Bit of a… Read more »
Boris will have taken him aside and given him a book on how to win at poker. Never show your hand! Ah well, we’ve seen it now. A 7 and a 2 is bad, right?
Okay, but hope you won’t mind if I wait for the official apology from the Welsh Tories in the Senedd, as you have obviously had to work quite hard at finding something? That’s how far things have come for me, sorry.
“From a Covid-19 perspective, we can only just about manage a thousand tests a day whilst England teeters around the 100,000 mark.” It is worth reading the article by Dr Angharad Puw Davies from Swansea University’s School of Medicine in Barn (also reproduced on the Academi Hywel Teifi Facebook page) to wonder how effective this magic increase in testing actually is. There is a very high element of “pot calling the kettle black” in this article. My observations of ambulance and hospital services in England are that they are not significantly better than in Wales. Public transport services by bus… Read more »
I’m disappointed at those whose response to this article has been to unsubscribe or not subscribe. Yes the tories can’t be trusted here or at Westminster and in any event a tory majority in 2021 is as likely as martians landing in Cardiff on St David’s Day. BUT Nation Cymru is an important part of the media in Wales and a very important source of discussion and debate – and, like it or not, the tories should be allowed to contribute to the discussion.
The real response is to work for and vote for an independence party next May.
You’re not really Welsh though Charlie because you prioritise the needs of your masters in London over those in Wales. I could spend a considerable amount of time deconstructing your article but I won’t save for the fact that you have never done anything for Wales. You have continuously made it poorer whenever in government, destroyed livelihoods and jobs and continue to destroy effective and efficient public services and outsource it to friends in high places for financial gain. Your party is complicit in thousands of deaths and most of the MPs elected aren’t even Welsh let alone live in… Read more »
As a constituent of Simon Hart MP and Angela Burns AS I would agree with the overall sentiment expressed in this article. It would be healthy for Wales to have a Conservative government. There would be a natural alliance with central UK government and allow a new Conservative Welsh government to implement its election manifesto. When you refer to improving rail transport between Mid Wales (Aberystwyth) and West Wales I assume the writer is referring to South West Wales only. It is also important to improve transport arrangements between South West Wales and North West/East Wales -in particular the A487… Read more »
‘There would be a natural alliance with central UK government and allow a new Conservative Welsh government to implement its election manifesto.’
How laughable. You’re essentially talking unionism and dilution of powers in the Welsh Parliament. What you’re proposing essentially is the sort of approach that existed during the colonial era.
Are you a bot?
Better rail transporrt in mid and west Wales, better transport links between South West and North West/East Wales? Better ,vote Plaid in 2021 then!
Periodic change is generally healthy for democracy. Challenge to the status quo is always necessary. I try to keep up with all views. Two points: 1. The description of conservatIsm given is rather far from the views of the dominant faction in Westminster and many constituency parties these days, though it would be familiar to John Major. Some MPs for Welsh seats are notable enthusiasts for the new guard, whose permanent revolution would have little time for such quaintnesses as “our rich history and culture” . I note the advice to Welsh Conservatives to respect devolution. For it to work… Read more »
Your second point calls to mind a parallel I’ve noticed between Wales and the Baltic states, each of which – Estonia and Latvia especially – have significant minorities, Russian in language and in sentiment, which are the product of their small countries’ centuries of domination by the large neighbour to the east!
It would be interesting to see how many people in England consider themselves English, there are plenty of other options: British, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, European and the many BAME hyphenated and non- hyphenated identities. The same menu applies in Wales. For many people ticking just one box is impossible.
They’ve always published pieces like this. You get articles from all across the political spectrum.
I’ve moaned before about impartiality but that’s because I felt Nation had an unnecessary dig at an individual but as for the above I personally welcome articles from everybody across the political divide, whether its The WNP, Plaid, Gwlad or the unionist parties, and that’s even if I like it or not. Evan’s though is a sheep in wolves clothing as if his masters in London would encourage more powers of devolution given the choice. All I can say is Gompel, Roche and Kawczynski (and these are just in the last few weeks). And with the increasing support for Independence… Read more »
I can’t see why anyone should object to Welsh Conservatives contributing to this site; after all, as Mr Evans was quick to point out at the start of his opinion piece, the Tories appear to have considerably more voter support here than seemed to be the case not too long ago. They clearly merit a voice here, and as poor ideas are only ever countered by better ideas we all should surely welcome the cut and thrust which makes that process possible. So good for Mr Evans for offering his thoughts, and good for ‘Nation Cymru’ for publishing them. But… Read more »
For God’s sake Arfon, why shouldn’t a Tory post an article. There are Tory voters in Wales whether you like it or not. Why not take them posting as something positive. It gives us an opportunity to say exactly what we think about them. This for example – ‘We also need to commit to capital investment in Wales. This country lags behind like other parts of the United Kingdom. Mid and West Wales’ rail infrastructure is significantly behind the pace. Towns like Aberystwyth are connected to the Midlands but not its neighbours to the south.’ The Tories and Labour had… Read more »
Couldn’t agree more. We, who have a good memory and a grasp of things should be able to tear this article to shreds and expose the massive elephant in the room: that much of the initial responsibility for the parlous state of Wales is fundamentally down to Tory governments in Westminster, especially during the past 40 years when every government in Westminster has been Tory. Relative poverty in Wales has a long history and whilst the Labour party might not have acquitted itself wonderfully it is a bit much to expect them to make the kind of transformation this ‘pillock’… Read more »
“Our national conservatism is what makes Wales special”, that’s a nail on the head.
Wales is the most culturally conservative nation in Western Europe.
It’s why Welsh is spoken by so many. And we should celebrate it.
Mr Davies – it is your party that made us one of the poorest parts of Europe. You say taking back control will allow us to localise politics but it isn’t the EU that prevents that (For example, Germany has very localised power) it’s Westminster and in particular Tory held Westminster. There would never have been any form of devolution if Labour hadn’t been in charge, I’m not a Labour supporter but the truth is the truth. Conservatives hate devolution no matter what you say and only put up with it now as they have no choice. I’m sorry Mr… Read more »
As a Labour member, I find it sad there is far too much truth in the article. For those that object to this and other articles from those that you disagree with, you have the attitude that holds Plaid, Nationalism and Independance back. The best selling newspapers in Wales- The Sun, Mirror and Mail. No on is forced to buy them and is able to buy the welsh papers. That is the mindset of the country, as a democrats you have to live with it, unless of course you really are not which is my suspicion.
The challenge for the Conservatives is to prove they are our voice in Westminster rather than Westminster’s voice in our communities; a task that will always be more difficult for a unionist party if they are monolithic or act at the behest of the usual lobbies. The Conservatives have to give up their bias that ‘public’ is bad and ‘private’ is good, both approaches have their weaknesses but some areas of life are better organized through the non-profit and the democratically accountable. There is nothing in Conservative thinking that should make them against devolution both to Cardiff and more so… Read more »
This is the problem – old Conservative traditions have been completely swamped by money orientated, privatisation loving thatcherites. All in the hope the money will trickle down to the person on the shop floor or employers will act benevolently and invest in their local communities and all with as less regulation as possible involved. It doesn’t work – employers do not invest in their communities and the profits do not trickle down to the workers, instead CEOs get huge bonuses and share holders rake it in. Without some sort of regulation the average worker would be no better off than… Read more »
Any more from this idiot and I am going to stop my subscription. Free speech is paramount, but please filter for numpties with an agenda.
How can they win
1 Wales is financed by Westminster
We’re still a poor nation
Tory wales labour doing bad .Tory in uk government
People are not stupid in wales we dont trust tories .they’re known as liars in wales
As an old-fashioned anarcho-syndicalist and ardent proponent of the independence of all nations,especially Cymru, I welcome this article. We all need to engage respectfully with people we disagree with. By submitting this article, the author has done this. I’d love to have a pint with them and see where we can agree on how to make the lives of the people in Cymru better in the future.
You are right. To be be able to courteously exchange differing views is a mark of civilisation. On that can be built common policies for a common cause.
I think it’s healthy to have a forum where conservative and liberal opinions can be expressed. To be honest I was surprised and relieved that the article didn’t talk abolishing the Assembly. They’ll have to call it abolish the Senedd now, doesn’t have such a good ring to it..