Opinion

With lives at stake Governments in Wales and Westminster need to be held to account

23 Mar 2020 3 minutes Read
Adam Price speaking in the Senedd

Adam Price, Plaid Cymru leader 

Politics is a finely trodden line – a daily trapeze act of balancing tone within argument.

The key is in the equilibrium, where critical observation doesn’t succumb to obtuse one-upmanship.

A time of huge anxiety brings with it heightened emotion, where the constructive is often conflated with the critical. But if the scourge of Covid-19 has taught us anything it is that there is no such thing as a surplus of scrutiny.

Governments in Wales and Westminster are rightly asking all of us to step up our response. But the same must be true of them – and crucially the opposition who hold the executive to account.

Those who suggest that a preoccupation with point-scoring has engulfed the discourse will never be appeased. Probing and foreboding is not the nirvana of party politics – it’s the deal we strike to deliver democracy.

Putting pressure on the Welsh Government to directly call for the postponement of the Wales v Scotland Six Nations match wasn’t being contrary in a time of crisis – it was a clarion call of conviction.

When the World Health Organisation, on March 11th, called for “urgent and aggressive action” to combat COVID-19 I believed them. Arguing for more testing wasn’t an attack on the science or the guidance, rather a plea for a Welsh response in line with the advice of international experts.

 

Action

In these unprecedented times he or she who questions should be seen as the pragmatist not the precentor – a sharer of ideas in a barren land of any past experiences we can draw upon.

Many of our concerns are echoed by Labour MPs. Jonn Ashworth, Kevin Brennan and Geraint Davies to name but three have been pertinently polite but forcefully forensic while arguing for a different course of action from those in power.

This is not the time for a “Bain Principle” in reverse (a rather obscure convention within the Labour party which means that their approach to a motion or amendment is dictated by the identity of its proposer, not by its merit or substance. In short, if it’s an SNP idea, it’s a bad idea.)

Doubling down and double-speak shouldn’t become the new normal.

But we can’t shy away either. When NHS staff and constituents call for our help to keep visitors away we must be a voice for them.

When the self-employed are short-changed and treated differently we must look after them.

Pressing for swifter, firmer and clearer action from those who govern is sound stewardship not soundbite politics.

Everyone I know and have met in the course of this crisis – Matt Hancock, Simon Hart, Vaughan Gething, Mark Drakeford – are decent people doing what they believe to be right in very difficult circumstances.

Demonising or pillorying politicians may make us feel temporarily better – but it achieves nothing.

Speaking truth to power, however, remains fundamental even in the most trying of circumstances and sometimes criticism, where lives are at stake, will need to be direct.

This should never be personal.  But if Government is collectively failing then to be silent is to be complicit, which will help no-one in the weeks and months ahead.

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Neil McEvoy
1 year ago

Adam needs to pick up the phone to Plaid’s Council leaders. They could have already used the 2003 Licensing Act to close places attracting unwanted tourists. Time to step up to the plate and #GetItDone

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
1 year ago
Reply to  Neil McEvoy

Hear! Hear! Plaid Cymru always good at talking a good fight

Gareth Westacott
Gareth Westacott
1 year ago

I understand that councils already have the powers to close down caravan parks on health and safety grounds (Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act, 1960).

Lord Muck
Lord Muck
1 year ago

It has been done.

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 year ago

Labour, the party of slow-to-inert government, afraid of its own f***in’ shadow, has the gall to call out Adam Price for giving vent to his anger/irritation/frustration in public. Of all the donkeys in their stable they set loose an expert in cheap political points if there ever was one. In fact cheap covers most aspects of her political life along with shabby, shallow, …. you get my drift. Drakeford was rumored to have been good at the administrative side of his previous role but even that aspect has gone down the tubes in his time as FM. There again there… Read more »

Terry Mackie
Terry Mackie
1 year ago
Reply to  Huw Davies

I wrote a book last year called ‘The Slow Learning Country’. Labour has everything to answer for. Certainly in public services.

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