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Monday, July 07, 2014

The arrogance of Welsh Labour

Today's Western Mail reports on the latest episode in the so-called 'war on Wales'. They say that the Shadow Welsh Secretary has written to David Cameron to express his concerns about the impact of high-profile criticism of Welsh infrastructure and health services.

Owen Smith  argues that a “wellspring of negativity” is damaging business confidence when the country should be preparing to make the most of September’s Nato summit at the Celtic Manor resort and that UK cabinet ministers are taking “every available opportunity to undermine Wales’ reputation”which is damaging Wales’ “brand”.

Business people seem to take a different view. They want to see standards in education improve so that they have a skilled workforce to draw on. Like many other people they are concerned at the failngs of the Welsh education system and the poor outcomes for those using the Welsh health service. 

Eurfyl ap Gwilym, a Plaid Cymru-supporting economist echoes that view. He tells the paper that it is“fairly cynical” of Labour to “turn attacks on the record of the Welsh Government into attacks on Wales”:

He said: “The performance of the Welsh Government in some areas does need to be criticised, it needs to be scrutinised effectively as well; they need to respond and say what they are going to do to make things better, and I think that’s perfectly legitimate.”

Warning against being “too sensitive,” he said: “If there’s poor performance anywhere we should be ready to accept criticism.”

He acknowledged it would not be “helpful” if the only headlines about Wales in the UK press are negative but said: “I’m sure Owen Smith will do his best now to exaggerate the impact of that criticism.”

And he is absolutely right. The arrogance of Welsh Labour in seeking to turn criticism of their poor performance in government into an 'attack on Wales' is breathtaking. They need to step up and take responsibility for their failings.

Despite some of the over-the-top rhetoric, it is absolutely right and defensible for UK Ministers to compare and contrast their record with that of their counterparts in Wales. That is especially so when Ed Miliband is seeking to use Wales as his benchmark for a future Labour UK Government.

Carwyn Jones et al criticise the UK Government in the siambr week-in, week-out. Are they really arguing that the David Cameron and his ministers cannot reciprocate?
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