First Minister’s Questions

Andrew Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, welcomed the announcement of an inquiry into the problems at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board. He then claimed it was due to the Tory pressure for a more general inquiry into the Welsh NHS. Or at least, that’s what he meant to say. He had a verbal slip and used the phrase ‘general campaign’, which was jumped on immediately by the First Minister Carwyn Jones, leader of Welsh Labour. Jones claimed it was a ‘Freudian slip’, agreeing there was a ‘general campaign’ by the Tories against the NHS. He continued, laughing at the ‘cat being let out of the bag’, disagreeing with the need for a wider inquiry, and refusing to help the Tories in their ‘general campaign’ against the NHS.

Davies angrily exclaimed that he was happy to admit there was a Tory campaign against inadequacy in the NHS – a Labour AM had congratulated him on it. Davies repeated his ‘simple question’ to the First Minister – why not a wider inquiry into the Welsh NHS? (The political motivation for this is clear – a huge inquiry into everything wrong with the NHS would, in Davies’ view, provide him with lots of sticks with which to beat the Welsh Government). Again Jones rejected the proposal, insisting the smaller inquiry was into a specific matter. He claimed there was a need for an inquiry in England’s NHS, which the Tories had turned to ‘chaos’ and ‘crisis’. Davies claimed the English NHS had better results, and quoted a Labour AM on the deficiencies of the Welsh NHS. It ended with ‘Aneurin Bevan [The Welsh creator of the NHS] would be turning in his grave’. The angry and overly aggressive tone was typical of Davies’ reputation, as was Jones’ response (branded ‘flippant’ by the Tory leader) that ‘Aneurin Bevan was cremated’. He then challenged people to look at England to see what the Tories would do to Wales, claiming that A+E times across the Severn are ‘spiralling’. He stated that figures in England were going the wrong way, and figures in Wales were going the right way (an implicit admission that England still gets better results?), He then alluded to a poll of 5000 Welsh Doctors, 86% of whom stated they were glad to be in Wales.


Harry Thompson

FMQ Columnist

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