- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
- Category: Latest News
Labour had a bad election in Wales and whilst in south Wales they held on to the two 2017 gains (Cardiff North and Gower) , Bridgend a seat last won by the conservatives in 1983 was lost. North Wales saw Labour almost wiped out losing five of the six seats previously held and holding on to Alyn and Deeside by only 213 votes to avoid complete defeat.
It was billed as the Brexit election and the Conservative Leader kept on repeating “get Brexit done” which resonated with previous Labour voters who had voted to leave in 2016 and crucially those who voted remain but felt that the democratic decision had to be upheld. Time after time I was told when talking to voters we voted for Brexit and you are trying to stop it, that is not democracy. On the Friday morning Carolyn Harris the newly re-elected MP and I visited a faith and family centre to be told by people there “we always vote labour but this time we voted Conservative to get Brexit done.” The good news is that by the time of the next election Brexit will be complete. There will also be confusion when people see that we are still negotiating with Europe after January 2020.
Jeremy Corbyn was unpopular with older especially male voters but popular although not popular enough to win the election with younger voters. His complete refusal to use the courts to defend himself against libel emboldened critics who told greater and greater lies about him. The most important thing for the next leader to do is to immediately take legal action against anyone who libels them and crucially to continue that action against those who propagate it on social media. Remember the prompt action by Lord Macalpine to protect himself against libel and The BBC and ITV formally apologised to Lord McAlpine at the High Court for “disastrously” and falsely linking him to child sex abuse allegations at a Welsh care home. The broadcasters’ solicitors apologised unreservedly for the damage and distress caused. His lawyers confirmed that the agreements involved the payment of £185,000 damages by the BBC and £125,000 from ITV, together with very substantial costs. He pursued others who propagated the story on Social media including comedian Alun Davies and Sally Bercow but also whilst not taking them to court he made those with less than 500 followers make a £25 donation to children in need.
As with all elections there are local reasons for the result. North Wales is covered by Betsi Cadwalladr health board which has been in special measures for over four years. . Quoting from the National Assembly Wales Public accounts Committee report: “There is a risk that the special measures status of a north Wales health board ‘may have become a normal state of affairs’.
The report says Welsh Government support has been ‘insufficient’ and that actions ‘had little practical impact’ on changing the health board’s performance.
The review paper says: “It is simply unacceptable that BCUHB [Betsi Cadwaladr], as the largest NHS body in Wales, has been in special measures for nearly four years.”
The committee says: “We share the frustrations of the people of north Wales at the pace of change and believe that both patient input and clinical engagement in delivering change has not been as effective as it could be.”
The report also takes aim at the health board’s leadership saying it is ‘deeply concerned’ that it has “failed to grip its financial position” and that recurring deficits are ‘unsustainable’. It adds that “poor quality savings plans the Board has had in place…have been both simplistic and overly ambitious.”
There are those of us, albeit a minority, who believe that the structure of health in north Wales is fundamentally flawed and that Betsi Cadwalladr health board does not work because of its make up not because of its management.
Finally a reminder of how previous leaders were attacked from Tony Blair New Labour New Danger, Gordon Brown as a “shameless defender of the old elite” and Red ED who could not eat a bacon sandwich. Any Labour Leader will be attacked by the Express, Mail and Sun with the BBC reporting those attacks as news.
We have just over 16 months to the next Welsh Assembly elections and we need to campaign to keep control in Wales. We need to learn the lessons of the General Election and ensure that we do better than in the General Election.