In a scramble for votes, Labour are conning the public over the NHS

Angela Burns AM. Picture by the National Assembly (CC 2.0).

Angela Burns AM

One of the most curious incidents of the Fourth Assembly came when the former Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, resigned from his post in Welsh Government.

He was ostensibly protesting against his own policy on surplus places and school closures.

It was a moment of ‘peak irony’. A bizarre turn of events that led Mr Andrews to quit after a Rhondda school was earmarked for closure.

Politics and politicians are often viewed with cynicism by the public, and little wonder.

Over the weekend we were treated to the latest instalment in Labour hypocrisy – with Llanelli Labour politicians Lee Waters and Nia Griffiths donning suitably sombre poses in protest against proposals to downgrade Prince Phillip Hospital.

I can sympathise with the plight of local residents facing closures and downgrades. In my own constituency, residents face the same battle to ensure that services are not lost or downgraded.

What sticks in my craw, though, is Labour politicians swooping in to the rescue when it’s their own government which has placed services under threat.

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I have raised my own concerns about the future of health services in West Wales on many occasions.  For my pains I have been accused by members of the Welsh Labour Government and Labour backbenchers of scaremongering; talking down the Welsh NHS, and harming staff recruitment.

How strange, therefore, to see Mr Waters and friends reaching for the placards and Labour flags.

Vaughan Gething recently approached the Welsh Conservatives to take part in a Parliamentary Review on the grounds that he – quite sensibly – wants to depoliticise the whole reorganisation and future delivery of services in Wales.

Imagine the wave of cynicism that swept over me this weekend when I saw Labour Assembly Members, MP’s and local labour parties protesting outside Hospitals in Llanelli and Haverfordwest.

Are Labour really planning to depoliticise the NHS and do what’s best for the nation? Or is the real plan to continue to con the public and scramble for every potential vote, when the reality is that the NHS is where it is today because of years of Labour incompetence?

Many will recall a BBC poll that revealed that around half of the public were still unaware that the health service has been run by the Welsh (Labour) Government since 1999.

We have to do a better job of explaining the way things work and we need to call out cynicism where we see it.

But the media also has a significant part to play in bridging the democratic deficit which exists, and they must endeavour to report in such a way that politicians are unable to blur the lines of accountability.

The Labour Party has a history of taking advantage of public confusion over where power resides as a result of devolution.

It may serve their narrow political interests to exploit the situation, but it does little to improve accountability, or to promote our Welsh Parliament.

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