In the General Election the Conservatives will be doing as much as possible to interest the English in what has been happening in Wales. The latest figures on the number of A&E patients seen within four hours in England is 92 per cent. Labour criticise this performance noting that the target is 95 per cent. But in Wales, where Labour run the NHS, the figure is 82.3 per cent.
While the NHS is the most shocking Labour failure there have also been other ways in which Wales has been left behind. Schools have not had the advantage of the Gove Revolution to drive up standards. Council Taxpayers are facing sharp increases while most bills in England are being frozen.
By contrast where policy in Wales is a Conservative responsibility – over the economy and welfare reform – great progress has been made.
Whether or not the English will notice what is happening in Wales it is a pretty safe bet that the Welsh will. That should mean that the Conservatives perform relatively strongly there.
David Cameron spoke to the Welsh Conservatives Conference yesterday and stressed the need to make gains:
“There are so many great candidates I want to see joining them on those green benches. Michelle Willis – fighting for Ynys Mon. Laura Knightly – in Alyn and Deeside. Edward Yi He – born in China, learning Welsh, a steelworker by trade.”
“The party of Wales isn’t Labour or Plaid, who treat this place as their own personal fiefdom…the party of Wales are the Conservatives. Because look at this country today – after five years of Government, what do we see?
Out of the ashes of the Great Recession, a new Wales is being born…one that is growing faster than any other UK nation – and faster than France and Germany too.
We have got Pinewood Studios gearing up to make the blockbusters of tomorrow…Hitachi set to generate the nuclear power of the future…Wales making electronics for China, equipment for our troops – and every wing of every Airbus plane in the world.”
A more contentious matter for Conservatives is the question of devolution, as Paul noted yesterday. It is proposed to give more powers to the Welsh Assembly – which might be renamed the Welsh Parliament. There is to be a referendum on the power to vary income tax rates. Cameron’s argument is that rather than just spending money there should be the responsibility of raising it.
But I was pleased that he added:
“Only Conservatives understand that real devolution doesn’t just mean giving powers to Cardiff, but pushing those powers beyond Cardiff and out to people, so they have more control over their lives. Because that’s what we as Conservatives believe – more power to you.”
Let us hope that the Conservative and Unionist Party achieves some rebalancing this year with gains in Wales as well as Scotland so that it is no longer quite so dominated by English MPs.