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  • Lawrence Bailey

Blame game politics back on the agenda

As Covid continues to blight our lives here in Wales, you can see a noticeable breakdown in political consensus. Be it testing or tracking, lockdown or holding onto a living wage; everyone’s got a different priority.

Of course, one reason might be that the next Senedd election is now just over six months away and parties are positioning themselves accordingly.

In 2016, what should have been a democratic exercise in choosing a Welsh government morphed into a practice run for the EU referendum held a month later. Unsurprisingly, and thanks to the quirks of proportional representation, we saw some bizarre and controversial outcomes. But will it be any different next May?

The prospect of Welsh voters going to the polls clearly excites election pundits. A few talk about the “first post-Brexit key electoral test” while others reckon the result will be a verdict on how the coronavirus crisis has been handled.

You can also bet that we’ll be in for another debate about the legitimacy of Welsh devolution itself.

This strikes me as sad but understandable when you consider how the Senedd still has less elected members than Cardiff council. If the institution doesn’t take itself sufficiently seriously in terms of how scrupulously it does its business then why should electors feel any different?

Of course, we can expect this to go ignored as campaigning sees one party dangling the prospect of a Westminster-funded M4 relief road while others portray Wales as a potential vassal-state beholden to English patronage.

It says something about us that it’s taken a global pandemic for people to finally appreciate that Welsh ministers actually have a direct influence on our day-to-day lives. The challenge facing the remainder of those who occupy the Cardiff Bay bubble is to be regarded as equally relevant. Several are already working on it.

It’s entirely possible that the big debate, come next May, will be about vaccines and all the attendant issues. As much as fortunes may shift back and forth, we can be sure that blame game politics will be alive and well.

Let’s hope the same goes for the rest of us.


Welsh tourism needs investment, that’s the big story

A favourite quote is that journalism largely consists in saying "Lord Jones is dead" to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.

It’s with that observation in mind that I read how travel writer Simon Calder has decided not to visit Wales again.

Of course, were it not for the media, we wouldn’t have known he’d been (otherwise they’d have started speaking Welsh when he walked into the pub).

Mr Calder managed to show a certain insensitivity by suggesting that it was dead easy for English tourists to visit part of non-lockdown Wales. He subsequently earned himself some colourful advice regarding future destinations via social media.

Wales has much to offer visitors and, as I’ve banged on in this column before, tourism remains the Cinderella sector in terms of state investment. That’s despite being among the biggest seasonal contributors to the economy.

I’d suggest the media takes time to highlight that particular example unfairness - along with how things need to be resolved.

That’s the big story in my opinion.



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