Labour's record in Wales doesn't make me angry – just disappointed

The party's record inside my country is matched by ignorance about it from Labour outside it, says Adam Price. 

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That killer phrase deployed by parent’s day-in, day-out – I’m not angry, just disappointed. That’s how I feel about Labour’s record in Wales.

It’s not the same feeling I have towards the Conservative party, who we know have little regard for many of the things we treasure – from the NHS to devolution.

I grew-up in a Labour family. Labour values of old shaped much of my politics. But, the reality of Labour today is a party that shuns responsibility and fails to deliver the promises that it makes.

In Wales, Labour has had twenty years in government to deliver ‘real change’, but barely any change has been realised.

They should have a record to champion, but instead they find themselves defending worse A&E times than England, rising homelessness and declining life expectancy.

That’s why twice on TV debates this election, poorly briefed Labour politicians have failed to give credible answers to my questions on their own Labour government’s record in Wales.

Rebecca Long-Bailey called for a “legal inquiry” into the failings in the Welsh NHS and Richard Burgon simply smiled at me when I asked why Labour had chosen not to deliver free social care in Wales, where they have the power to do so.

The fact that Labour politicians did not know what was happening in the only place in which Labour is in power shows their complacency concerning our country.

Of course, Westminster’s austerity has a huge part to play in the difficulty our nation finds itself. But it is austerity that Labour had a hand in delivering. It was the current First Minister, Mark Drakeford, that negotiated the latest variation on Wales’s funding model, which he claimed at the time was a “fair” and “long-term” settlement for Wales.

Labour are not part of the solution in Wales, they are a source of the problem.

From voting against a ban on zero-hour contracts (seven times), to inviting more privatisation into Welsh rail, Labour’s record in Wales bears little resemblance to their promises.

This week alone Labour in Cardiff voted against the principle of giving itself a veto over trade deals which included devolved issues – like the NHS, food and the environment.

Mark Drakeford has been all but invisible in this election, and Labour’s record in Wales has hardly featured in their UK campaign. With Jeremy Corbyn making his one and only appearance in Wales this weekend, it raises the question, who is more embarrassed of who?

When politics is changing so rapidly beneath our feet, the Labour party in Wales has stood still. And when you stand still in politics, you are going backwards.

Backwards in the economic league tables, but also backwards in people’s minds. To vote Labour in Wales would not be a change, it would be more of that same managed decline.

Change will only come for Wales when we change the way we vote.

This election is not just about who has the keys to 10 Downing Street, but what we hope for as a small nation on this island.

Whoever it may be, sat on the Treasury Bench, peering over the Despatch Box, I want them to be looking at a wall of MPs who will make the case for Wales, not more loyalists following the whip of a Westminster party.

The red wall is crumbling, but we can replace it with a red, white and green one that will not only protect Wales from the worst of a Conservative Government in Westminster, but put Wales back on the political map for decades to come.

As much as the Boris Johnson vs Jeremy Corbyn debates make it look like you face a binary option, you won’t be casting a vote for them, you will be electing a Member of Parliament in a few days’ time to represent you and your community. 

Your choice will be to either send Labour and Tory MPs to Westminster to fight each other, or send Plaid Cymru MPs there to fight for Wales.

Adam Price is leader of Plaid Cymru and Senedd member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr.

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