Bursting the Cardiff Bay Bubble

BY PAUL DAVIES

Last weekend at our Welsh Conservative conference in Llangollen, I told some hard truths to the members of the Cardiff Bay Bubble.

The Bubble is a fragile and delicate entity, and is fiercely protected by the elite within it – and by those who wish to be in it.

Its devotees took to social media to pillory the Welsh Conservative heretic – who dared throw scorn upon their holy idol – with cries of “Hypocrite!”

It is always the case that when politicians don’t hear what they want to: they go on the defensive by getting a bit personal.

And what is this hard truth that warranted such a response from all sections of the Welsh political elite?

Simple: after 20 years of devolution, for some people, their lives had not been improved by devolution, and that politics in Wales is bloated, and to borrow a line – which they won’t like – for a very select few, and certainly not for the many.

Remember, it is two decades of Labour that has failed Wales – not devolution – but I fully understand why Welsh Labour would get upset about this inconvenient truth.

It has spent the last few years in power trying to hide its awful management of our Welsh NHS from the people of Wales.

It is scared that as more and more people realise that Labour has been running the NHS for the last 20 years, they might start blaming it for the scandalous A&E waiting times across Wales or that Betsi Cadwaladr UHB has been in special measures for five years come June.

It’s this truth that has caused so much consternation.

As I said last week, people feel that the Assembly is just like the European Union. People here feel remote, ignored, and disenfranchised. This is not what people voted for all those years ago.

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In 1997, those in favour of devolution argued that a Welsh Assembly would improve how our local services were run compared to being run by an out-of-touch Westminster Government that ignored Wales.

All these years later, those in the “Yes” campaign must be horrified that the perceived injustices and everything else they battled against have now come true – but with their own side in charge.

It’s not just that services aren’t what was promised, but that politics itself is too expensive and bloated.

How is it possible, for example, that while some politicians were asking people to cut their cloth in the national interest, the Assembly itself was having an annual £1 million pay rise?

If we really are the Parliament of Wales, then we should be acting in the best interests of the people of Wales and not ourselves.

We need to listen to the ignored, not just our own Twitter feeds and echo chambers

And to quote that well-used phrase we need to make sure that our priorities are the people’s priorities and finally we shouldn’t be afraid to discuss the big issues – and to burst that Bubble.

Paul Davies AM/AC is the Leader of the Welsh Conservative Assembly Group.

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