It was the Ogmore and Bridgend Constituency Labour Party annual dinner this week. Their very own Carwyn Jones turned up and members were keen to share on Facebook his declaration thus:
“we will have a manifesto that is radical, fresh and shaped by Party members”
I have to admit that this was like a red flag to a bull (apologies for the kinda mixed metaphor!).
Having been steadily sipping away at a bottle of Johnnie Walker all evening, I responded like this:
It will be radical and fresh if shaped by the new Corbynite members. It is great news that Carwyn’s stale old blairite, red Tory drivel is being binned at last. Bring it on!!
I guess this deserved the following riposte:
Love the comradely language that Jeremy requests of us. Suppose a real pity we have a Welsh Labour GOVERNMENT. dear me….
Nonetheless, the following conversation that followed, I think, is very telling:
- ME: I am not on board yet, as I don’t believe a word of the radical and fresh claims. Proof will be in the pudding. Labour’s legacy in government is hardly cause for pride, being the product if years of complacency. Interesting times are upon us. It will be interesting to see if Welsh Labour can rise to the challenge. I sincerely hope so, but I really do think a change of leadership is vital to presentating a fresh, new, radical face with any credibility at all.
- Reply: We will get out to fight and beat the Welsh Tories. Over and out.
- ME: Hardly ambitious, let alone fresh and radical. I think I can rest my case too!
- Reply: Not sure what greater ambition we should have than defeating Tories. They are the enemy after all!
- ME: Seriously? That says it all and pretty much confirms all my worst fears.
So there you have it. Beating the Tories is their sole ambition. No challenge to the charge of complacency. No interest in being fresh or radical so long as the Tories are not in charge. Tory-lite will presumably continue to be acceptable enough and continue to meet Carwyn’s understanding of radical and fresh. No view on whether Carwyn is the right person to take them forward.
Of course, I may be proved wrong. The Labour Manifesto for next year’s Assembly elections may well prove ‘fresh and radical’. The influence of the massive influx of new Corbynite members, and the presumably renewed confidence of the long-quiet lefties that always hid away within the party during the Blairite years (with one or two exceptions), will surely have a profound impact if Carwyn is right about policy and the manifesto being ‘shaped by members’. But that is, of course, only half the battle with Carwyn’s administration. They blatantly lie, even in the Senedd itself, and their promises are worthless. One straightforward but huge example emphasises this point – the NHS hospital downgrading.
Here are some actual quotes from Labour ministers in the Senedd:
No-one is suggesting the downgrading of any district general hospital (Labour First Minister, National Assembly, November 29th 2011)
No hospital is under threat, and no hospital was ever under threat in Wales (Labour First Minister, National Assembly, May 1st 2012).
I do not want to see any downgrading. We want to see improved services. To talk about downgrading is absolute nonsense. (Labour Health Minister, November 1st 2011)
We have no plans to downgrade any district general hospital (Labour Health Minister, December 7th 2011)
I do not want to hear any talk about downgrading. No services will be downgraded (Labour Health Minister, May 23rd 2012)
Tally these pledges with the reality of what has happened in terms of hospital downgrades:
- Closure of at least five community hospitals: Blaenau Ffestiniog, Flint, Llangollen, Prestatyn and Mynydd Mawr
- Closure of the special care baby unit at Withybush hospital
- Level 3 neonatal care scheduled to move from Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Wrexham’s Maelor Hospital to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral (i.e. out of Wales)
- X-ray services to cease in Tywyn, Ruthin and Blaenau Ffestiniog
- Closure of Minor Injuries Units at Flint, Ruthin, Llangollen, Chirk, Colwyn Bay, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Tenby and South Pembrokeshire
- Permanent closure of inpatient beds at Hafan Ward (Bryn Beryl Hospital) and Uned Meirion (Dolgellau Hospital)
- A and E downgrading at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli
- A and E downgrading at the Royal Glamorgan in Llantrisant
And this is not necessarily a complete list, and certainly not the end of the issues with NHS service provision in Wales.
So perhaps when Carwyn says he has some radical and fresh ideas lined up, perhaps this simply means he has some actual intention to deliver on his promises. That really would be fresh and radical for him!!
P.S. This picture from the Annual Dinner is doing the rounds on Facebook, and is begging for a caption competition re Carwyn Jones as a Tom Jones tribute act!
It’s not unusual to break promises in politics
What’s new pussycat? Is it really fresh and radical?
Burning down the house when Labour lose their grip on the Senedd
Mama told me not to come and get photographed standing in front of that damn sign!