Opinion

Labour’s only regular, reliable rhythm is perpetual stasis

18 Mar 2021 3 minutes Read
Siân Gwenllian AM. Llun gan y Cynulliad (CC 2.0).

Sian Gwenllian, Plaid Cymru member for Arfon

There it was, laid bare in one tweet. Twenty years of a Labour government, unwilling to listen, reluctant to bow to pressure, only to cynically see the light as the election looms.

“We’ll launch an NHS Recovery Plan on day one and begin work delivering a new medical school in North Wales,” boasted the Welsh Labour Press official account today.

Scratch a little deeper and the same glitches that beset Labour’s Facebook Live campaign launch apply to what, on the face of it, reads as a new and bold idea from the incumbent party.

In fact, for at least the past five years, it is Plaid Cymru that has campaigned for a medical school in the north of Wales. It’s a matter of public record – no ifs, no buts.

In a bombshell announcement in July 2017, the Labour government disappointed many when it said the medical school would not proceed, running for cover as the summer recess started that very day.

According to the Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, there was “no case” for a medical school in the north, adding that he “wasn’t persuaded.”

The decision flew in the face of expert advice. A leading clinician, Dr Dean Williams argued at the time that Bangor University was ready to host a new medical school.

Were we really to question the head of the School of Medical Sciences at the University when he said that Wales needed to expand medical schools to deal with future shortages of doctors, particularly GPs?

Today, there is an overwhelming feeling of ‘if only.’

If only Labour’s catch-up culture had caught up sooner.

If only we could have put the building blocks in place sooner to train and recruit 1,000 new doctors.

Had action been taken then, new doctors would be on stream earlier – a pressing issue as figures published today reveal that there were fewer doctors per head in Wales in 2020 than in 2011.

The future

As Labour make their election pitch today, let me make mine.

Since the birth of devolution, Labour have used Plaid Cymru as its laboratory of ideas – rejecting and ridiculing our policies only to later rejoice in adopting them as their own.

That’s Labour’s age-old regular, reliable rhythm.

Now imagine those ideas being put in motion when they’re first proposed. No dithering, no delay. A new party at the helm working quicker and smarter, delivering real change in real-time.

A government without foresight leaves a country in perpetual stasis.

Urgency must become the new order, founded on the principle that focusing on addressing the future will always be better than reacting to the past.

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