by Julian Ruck
The search lights of accountability and scrutiny will always make Welsh Labour dive for the blacked out sanctuary of its pleasure cruisers bobbing up and down in Cardiff Bay. For 98 years Welsh Labour has been able to wallow in a take for granted mandate that enjoys the unchallenged absolutism of a House of Saud princeling.
Almost every day in Wales, some political scandal or other hits the Welsh headlines, be it financial, be it authoritarian or be it just plain blazing incompetence. Wales has one of the lowest performing economies in Europe, it’s education system is cheating its young folk on a grand scale and awarding them qualifications that would shame a Zimbabwean Sunday school class and not to mention that only this week the Wales Audit Office has announced that the Welsh government has blundered (yet again!) over its financial projections on reduced student fees resulting in its populist flagship now being nothing better than a clapped out rowing boat.
And of course, its health service is worse than England’s on a good day – which really is saying something!
And what does First Minister Carwyn Jones say at the September Labour conference? That he leads a government that is ‘a living, breathing example” of what the party can achieve in in power!! How on earth Ed kept a straight face on hearing this startlingly complacent, Chamberlain letter waving delusion and swansong of profound idiocy is utterly beyond the keyboard of this humble Uncut scribbler.
The question then is this: Can Ed rely on the historical Welsh Labour mandates of the past? Hegel remarked that ‘governments never learn from history, or act on principles derived from it.’ The lessons of Welsh political history would instruct Ed to take the Labour vote for granted in Wales thus proving Hegel wrong but since when, like economic forecasts, do philosophical meanderings always get things right?
There is a view that our young are politically indifferent. This may well be true up to a point, but they are still a force to be reckoned with – technological whizz and bangs notwithstanding – and cannot be ignored. Welsh Labour can no longer rely on the generational ‘My dad voted Labour so I’m going to do the same,’ or indeed the oft quoted ‘Stick a Labour donkey up in Swansea and it will still get the vote.’
There is a change and the Welsh are none too keen on the distinction between Westminster Labour and Cardiff Labour
It might not employ the ideological niceties of Labour activism and grass roots but many in the Welsh boozers, coffee shops, streets and even the sheep infested hills have had enough of Carwyn’s devolved divine right to ruin. I don’t hear much of UKIP deliverance, I don’t hear much of Tory/Liberal escalation but I often hear ‘That bloody Assembly should have a bomb dropped on it, with Labour in it!’
Where these voters will go I’m not so sure. I doubt it will be Plaid Cymru although firebrand Leanne Wood can turn a vote or two; there won’t be a sudden Tory/Liberal occupation but I am certain of one thing, the Welsh are moving more to the middle ground, the younger generation of voters are unmoved by the glory days of Gaitskell’s ‘fight, fight and fight again’ and like everyone else they are simply worried about who is going to sort out the economy and create some decent jobs.
And from what I hear, they sure as hell don’t believe Carwyn Jones is up to the challenge.
A Welsh coalition with Labour banished to a Snowdonian hinterland? Not perhaps as crazy as it sounds.
Reign in Carwyn’s Labour Ed, because he is losing you votes. Wales might be small but it still counts at the ballot box.
PS My grandmother was married to D L Mort MP now long gone, but I still remember her chants of ‘fight, fight and fight again!’ whilst she puffed on a fag and swigged a whisky or two. Reckoned Callaghan tried it on in a lift in the Savoy too! She was a good looking woman in her day, so who knows?
Julian Ruck is an author, journalist and columnist. He also makes contributions to both Welsh and national broadcasting and media.