Yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Question Time threw up yet more examples of David Cameron’s tendency to say stuff that just isn’t true.
I have previously written about what each of the main parties said about Royal Mail in their manifestos for the last election. Not only was David Cameron wrong to claim that Labour said in their 2010 manifesto that they would privatise Royal Mail, it wasn’t in the Tory manifesto either! The Lib Dems did say they would sell a 49% stake in Royal Mail – but instead a majority stake has been sold and the other safeguards they mentioned were not delivered either. There was no mention of “mates rates” – certain investors being given privileged access to shares – or selling the shares at £1.4 billion below their value.
David Cameron has repeatedly used the NHS in Wales as a political punch bag, despite the fact that it is the UK Government which has slashed the Welsh budget by £1.7 billion. Despite these cuts (which have been exacerbated by the deficiencies in the Barnett formula which looks at population only and not need), Wales continues to spend more per person on the NHS than England. The Welsh Government needs to look at the whole picture, so although it has prioritised health spending it has also done things such as Jobs Growth Wales, which by creating 11,000 good jobs for young people has contributed to unemployment (and specifically youth unemployment) being lower in Wales than any other part of the UK.
At last weekend’s Welsh Labour Conference, it was good to hear our leading politicians making the case for what the Welsh Government is doing – and to be reminded of the dreadful state the NHS in Wales was in last time the Tories were in charge. You can read Ed Miliband’s speech here and Carwyn’s speech here. There was no complacency about the health service, education or anything else – there was recognition that there are significant challenges which need to be addressed.
My family’s experience of the NHS in North Wales has been very positive. There are staff shortages, which suggests to me that we should be doing more to get young people to pursue a career in health and I would like to see us doing more to train people here in North Wales (which would also help with ensuring we have enough qualified health professionals who can speak Welsh, thereby enabling people to receive services in Welsh if that is what they want). But I don’t think constant attacks on health professionals can be good for morale. I can’t imagine that the Tories declaring war on Wales will help David Jones and Guto Bebb keep their seats. It seems that David Cameron has given up on them and is parading a Welsh bogeyman to scare English voters into sticking with him.