By Morgan Perry
The Welsh Conservative Leader and Leader of the Opposition, Paul Davies has promised Wales a “dose of Dom” ahead of next year’s Senedd elections.
Referring to the UK Government’s senior advisor, Dominic Cummings, Mr Davies outlined his plans for Wales under a Welsh Conservative government, if they’re elected next spring.
Davies’ speech came on the same weekend that the Welsh Conservatives overhauled their cabinet, and First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that he would stand down before the end of the next Senedd term.
Drakeford’s “greatest failing”
Using his virtual speech, the Member of the Senedd for Preseli Pembrokeshire pinned perceived “sluggishness” in the Senedd on Welsh Labour.
Labour, and specifically the First Minister, were blamed for a “paralysis of delivery” of public policy in Wales. Mr Davies says Labour’s inability to deliver has led to “the worst disease affecting public policy” and would be Mark Drakeford’s “greatest failing”.
Since devolution, Wales has developed a unique policy-making community. The Welsh Government places particular emphasis on the involvement of third-sector organisations, and politicians in Cardiff continue to be heavily involved in areas such as healthcare and education.
In Labour’s place, the Welsh Conservatives tweeted that a Tory government would be one that “actually delivers for the people of Wales”:
🗣 @PaulDaviesPembs: “We are on a mission to end the sluggishness of government and make sure that revolution is one of pace, one of structure, and one of focus to actually deliver for the people of Wales.”
— Welsh Conservatives (@WelshConserv) July 20, 2020
A “radical and challenging” government
Describing a successful Welsh Tory government as “radical and challenging”, Mr Davies pointed out that “with a single party governing Wales for twenty years, there has been little appetite for change”. Labour has been in power since devolution was established in 1999.
Supportive of Boris Johnson’s senior advisor, Davies was complementary of Dominic Cummings’ “desire to shake up the way Government works”.
He hopes to do so by establishing an Office of Government Resilience and Efficiency headed up by Angela Burns, Member of the Senedd for Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire, who is standing down at the next election. This leaves the party ten months to come up with “radical and challenging” policy ideas.
Davies’ promises will be seen by many as an extension of his speech at the Welsh Conservative Party conference in which he promised to end the “gravy train” in Welsh politics.
This will be done by refusing to increase the size of the Senedd, preventing an increase in the budget of the Senedd Commission, and by reducing the number of government ministers to seven.
The move comes despite announcing that all 11 Conservative members have taken up shadow roles in the party’s weekend reshuffle.
On top of their commitment to rid Cardiff Bay of its “gravy train” and hammering home it’s key message – “devolution needs a revolution” – the Welsh party looks to hope to replicate the success of the parliamentary Conservative Party in Wales with catchy and memorable slogans, such as “Get Brexit Done”.
The most recent Welsh Barometer poll predicts 19 seats for the Welsh Conservatives; not enough to give it a ruling majority in the Senedd.
Current predictions point towards the possibility of another coalition, since no single party is projected enough seats to govern alone. A coalition was last seen in the 2007 Welsh Government, with Labour and Plaid pairing up to govern until 2011.
A YouGov poll which asked the public about their thoughts on Dominic Cummings noted that 59% felt he should have resigned after he reportedly broke lockdown rules in March. It is, therefore, yet to be seen whether the Welsh Conservative leader’s key messaging focused around such a controversial figure will be successful at the polls next May.Politics Morgan Perry