by Henry Hill
Tuesday, 19
January 2021
Debate
07:00

Mark Drakeford has finally dropped the ball

Poor vaccine management may spark a nascent anti-devolution movement
by Henry Hill
Mark Drakeford has faced heavy backlash for delaying Wales’s vaccine rollout

Of all the bizarre and counter-productive decisions made by those in charge during the pandemic, Mark Drakeford’s decision to deliberately slow the Welsh vaccine rollout might be the worst.

The First Minister has decided to space out the distribution of Cardiff’s existing vaccine stocks so that those administering the jabs aren’t left for weeks with ‘nothing to do’ until the next shipment comes in. As a result, thousands of vulnerable people are going to be left unnecessarily unprotected.

The backlash has been fierce, and not just from Labour’s traditional opponents. But to those familiar with Welsh politics, this latest blunder will not come a surprise. (That Scotland is somehow doing even worse might, though.)

Right from the start, the Welsh Government has placed a higher priority on doing its own thing than on acting swiftly and effectively. Its ministers opted out of both the GoodSAM app, which recruited and organised volunteers in England, and Westminster’s scheme for securing priority food delivery slots for at-risk residents. Home-grown equivalents were delivered weeks later.

Meanwhile its fixation on delivering north-south ‘Welsh’ solutions, rather than programmes which extend across the border to England, saw at one point people from across Wales facing hours-long drives to access a single testing facility in Cardiff.

And Labour’s mismanagement of the Health Service in Wales did not start with coronavirus. One NHS Trust in North Wales — which often feels neglected by Cardiff — has been in special measures for more than five years. That gives the Welsh Government more direct control, but hasn’t done much good.

So bad did it get that during the 2015 General Election David Cameron branded Offa’s Dyke “the line between life and death”.

Yet despite all that Drakeford’s ratings (at least, perhaps, until now) have remained stubbornly high. Like Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister has yet to squander the surge in popular sympathy enjoyed by those in charge when voters ‘rally round the flag’ in a crisis.

He is also benefiting from a long-standing devocrat tactic of equating any criticism of devolved governance as a direct attack either on devolution itself or, indeed, the nation as a whole.

This was best exhibited a few years ago when one Welsh minister accused Michael Gove, then the Education Secretary, of harbouring “invincible colonial attitudes” after he had the nerve to compare English and Welsh educational outcomes in an article for the Western Mail. Schooling is, of course, another policy area where Welsh Labour’s mismanagement is the stuff of legend.

In Wales, as in Scotland, devolved politicians have managed to almost completely divorce their public image from their record of governance on bread-and-butter issues. Instead they constantly shift the blame for problems onto ‘Westminster’, and insist the remedy is yet another expansion of their own powers.

This is very much like what successive British governments did with ‘Europe’, and it will end similarly badly for our Union as for that one.

Perhaps this vaccine story will finally mark the turn of the tide. Unlike his Scottish counterpart, Drakeford faces a nascent anti-devolution movement which is both uninterested in maintaining Cardiff Bay’s cosy consensus and spooking the local Conservatives into a more aggressive position too.

With the next Welsh Parliament elections just a few months away, it’s a bad time to drop the ball.

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

Drakeford never picked up the ball, as far as I can tell. His enthusiasm for condemning the Welsh to confinement in their homes led to the highest Covid infection rates in the land. As a gentle, female Welsh caller to the Alex Belfield Voice of Reason show said of him: ‘I’d like to drown that man’.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

“In Wales, as in Scotland, devolved politicians have managed to almost completely divorce their public image from their record of governance on bread-and-butter issues”.

Precisely, and as long as England keeps subsidising these parasites it will continue ad infinitum.
The ‘cancer’ of nationalism has destroyed all sense of reason, and only the withdrawal of the subsidy cheque will restore it.

Thank you Tony Blair & Co.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

If Wales and Scotland go out, if they then join Europe, the the Left in England will follow and take over for ever. Nixon and Kissinger had a similar theory maybe it was wrong but that’s not the point.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

That’s a rather bleak assumption if I may say so.
As I recall Nixon & Kissinger we’re talking about the ‘Domino Theory’, which didn’t actually happen at the end of the day.

So I see a great (non Labour) future for England alone.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

The beauty of this type of thing is that everybody has on opinion. Yours’ has to be short-sighted based on discussion now.
For example, London is the sixth most threatened city in the world as regards future water supplies. By 2030 there will be a crisis. What are the alternatives?

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Given the present state of play, much can happen in the next nine years.
London’s population might suffer a massive reduction in population, as historically it has done at least twice before.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

This is also bleak. Covid or nuclear attack?

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Covid IV …..the big one. Worse than either 1918-19 or the Black Death.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
1 year ago

Dropped the ball…I don’t think he ever picked it up, did he?

If you want to see how low the MSM has sunk in Wales, have a look at their newspapers.
Apparently Drakeford can do no wrong, he always makes the right decision for Wales and it’s people, and if anything goes wrong it’s the fault of Westminster.

Which is where all this is leading. In the next week or 2 Drakeford will be shouting that England isn’t giving Wales it’s fair share of the vaccine…

…Who is pulling his strings, becuase he isn’t coming up with this on his own, he isn’t smart enough (which is why he got the job in the first place).

andrew harman
andrew harman
1 year ago

I have been struggling to understand Drakeford’s logic which seems akin to saying we should not put the fire out as the firemen would have nothing to do.

The only reasons he is where he is are that he is / was a Corbynista sycophant and that in Wales they would vote for an armadillo if it was standing under the Labour banner.

Drakeford himself is steeped in etatisme and the implicit belief that state control is the way is deeply embedded in his psyche. He is a typical example of the over-educated fool.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  andrew harman

Labour doesn’t have an overall majority – it is just the largest party. It has changed voting age to 16 so that the May election produces an overall majority.

Pamela Booker
Pamela Booker
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The UK government should override devolved governments in matters of public policy – especially voting age and dealing with nationwide crises.

Mindyour Ownbusiness
Mindyour Ownbusiness
1 year ago

Drakeford has made Johnson look competent. That’s how bad things have been in Wales during Covid. That in itself should be enough to see him out of a job. Sadly it’s unlikely.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

I have lived in Wales for 45 years and by most definitions (bar one) I am Welsh. I live in an ex-mining community which is as poor as anywhere in England.

I see this as part of a longstanding scheme. The Welsh Assembly has control of £20 billion per year, which is allocated from Westminster. The same is true for Northern England and Scotland. Money is allocated on a per capita basis with Scotland receiving the most and Wales and England slightly less. This is not a gift from England to Wales, it is from rich UK to less rich UK.

Unfortunately, the Welsh Assembly is wasting this money on self-advertising and promoting the idea that everyone wants independence. Also, there are huge and costly initiatives to get everyone to speak only Welsh – as in Quebec French in 1989.

In 2020, there were six very expensive surveys about independence. The questions were varied to try to get the right answer.
1) Do you want independence? About 28% said yes.
2) As above including 16-18 year-olds. About 30% said yes.
3) Do you want independence if we get into Europe. About 28% again.
4) As above with 16-18 year-olds. About 33% said yes.
5) Do you want independence if Scotland gets it? About 28% said yes.
6) As above, with 16-18 year-olds. About 30% said yes.

From result number 4 it was decided to lower the voting age for the next Welsh Assembly election to 16. One politician tweeted last week in an ecstatic fashion – the latest survey of 16-22 year-olds shows that 55% want independence. We’ve done it!!!!

Finally, last Saturday I watched the recording of the First Ministers Question Time when the question about the vaccine arose. A follow up question demonstrated that there was a massive amount of money in the bank account, unspent, which was still awaiting allocation in the first quarter. One particular issue is about money to be given to poorer families.

To me, this a Labour issue, a W*** issue (don’t like the word) and it will apply to England in the future as well. It is the sacrifice of the majority for political ideals and it must be stamped out. The idea is that Westminster is blamed for not helping to buy the vaccine whilst the true money is being siphoned off to other extremist ideas.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

May I refresh your memory as to the astonishing largesse dispensed by England?

Currently per capita social spending in England is £ 9,604 (3% below national average), Wales is £ 10,929 (10% above national average), Scotland, a whopping £11,566 (17% above national average) and finally Northern Ireland, a truly astronomical £ 11,987 (21% above national average).

Per capita spending it is not. £20billion is too much, how can you possibly justify it?
The ludicrous election for the Welsh Assembly was a farce, and a disgrace of the democratic process, yet thanks to the Blair creature allowed to stand.
I gather the Assembly promoted itself to a Parliament last May, plundering that £20billion piggy bank in the process.

No doubt this situation will soon return to those happy days of “Come home to a real fire, buy a cottage in Wales”.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Yes, the figures themselves are impressive. But remember that England’s social spending is reduced because of the riches in the southeast. It is per capita and the average is distorted because of the rich areas. What is clear is that Scotland has far too much.
I looked at figures in the last hour regarding English views of Scottish independence; England very much wants to keep Scotland in the UK. But the government will probably throw out some bribes to increase Scotland’s share.
The Welsh Assembly calls itself the Senedd (or Senate) now.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Thank you for reminding me that it is Senedd. It’s good to hear that the memory of the Roman Republic lives on.

I couldn’t agree more about the absurd generosity to Scotland, but it’s even worse for Northern Ireland.
No Englishman I know could give a fig about either of them, and would be glad to see the backside of both.

The Government should be holding a national referendum on the subject, the question being “do you wish to keep shelling out to the ungrateful Scotch and Irish”?

Off course our word Parliament is a hangover from our centuries of cultural domination by Capetian France and perhaps we should think about a more Anglo Saxon name, following Wale’s example.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Mistake. Don’t know how to delete.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Just go back to the post, press the edit button and delete.
Once complete the ‘gremlin’ will tell you can’t post a blank post, so put in two full stops or similar. ( two characters minimum according to the gremlin).

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Thanks

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

This is not largesse dispensed by England. It is largesse dispensed by the United Kingdom from taxation. Some of these taxes are generated in Scotland and Wales.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Come off it! You know as well as I do that the ‘tax take’ from Scotland,Wales & Northern Ireland, is minute compared to that of England.

Considering England has over 85% of the population of the UK, this hardly surprising is it?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

It is because the population of England is 10 times that of Scotland. But Scotland is by no means a poor country. Wales is vey poor, I admit but has a small population.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

You must be referring to that so called Scotch oil? Is there any left?
Either way International arbitration is likely to award what’s left to England.
Otherwise Dr Samuel Johnson’s description of the poverty of Scotland still stands, or have I missed a hidden source of Scotch wealth?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Not really oil but a lot of Americans came over to set up in Aberdeen and it was then easy for smaller US companies to come in because they already had ‘friends’ there. Before his heart attack, Little Jimmy Osmond used to come over to Scotland every year to appear in a pantomime. So there are now quite a few companies around in Scotland on the back of the oil.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Basically, the payment is from the rich south-east England to the rest of the UK. The south-east will lose some of this advantage as European banking moves away, with the net result that we will all be poorer.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The only banker/money lender we are loosing so far is Jeremy Smith, an inhabitant of Quislington and a vociferous commentator on this site. He’s off to sunny Luxembourg I gather.

Otherwise I think the ‘City’ will continue as usual until the eventual collapse of the ludicrous paper money-magic money tree. (MMT).

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

‘The city’ has been evolving for hundreds of years and shall carry on thus taking everything in its stride. Watch this space ‘the city’ ain’t going nowhere soon.

Victor Newman
Victor Newman
1 year ago

What we are seeing is the playing out of Blair’s EU foundational policy of devolution. It was designed a) to ensure that when a conservative government was elected, the rhetoric of “not in my name” could be used to disqualify UK policy, locally; and as preparation for the regionalisation of England into smaller regions with similar “devolved” forms of administration to Wales, Scotland. Parliament needs to hold devolved administrations (they aren’t governments) to account, and if necessary put them into administration to get local conditions back up to UK standards. Just as the EU imposed unelected PMs on Italy.

croftyass
croftyass
1 year ago

Dismal,charisma free, public sector careerist who would struggle to gain employment in any other environment –has decided to space out the distribution of Cardiff’s existing vaccine stocks so that those administering the jabs aren’t left for weeks with ‘nothing to do’ until the next shipment comes in. is straight out of the left wing text book-keep everybody busy and screw the consequences-hey,we have no unemployment!!!!no doubt he will be announcing “record tractor production” in true Soviet style in the next few weeks.

Martin Price
Martin Price
1 year ago

Drakeford like Sturgeon has used “national differences” during this crisis as a political weapon to goad a Tory government as the expense of the populace. He is also under the strong influence of pubic sector unions. In December he was lobbied by the teaching unions and the very next day it was announced schools would close. However he seems to have the complete support of Welsh based media so there is little hope of badly needed political change at the forthcoming elections.

Andrea X
Andrea X
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Price

I don’t know anything about Welsh politics, but I can tell you that in Scotland at times I think we live in a parallel universe where the cult of personality reigns supreme.
There are no dissenting voices. Neither the press, nor the “opposition” have anything to say. The one exception is Andrew Neil.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Sturgeon v Salmond. Wee Krankie is supposed to be up today….keep watching, it will start to get even more interesting now..

Elise Davies
Elise Davies
1 year ago

A complete and utter talent – free zone. The sort of man who’d normally be in charge of paperclips. Instead he’s in charge of a failing health service and a failing education system and despite this he’s given a stress free life thanks to the toothless Welsh media
Because, as you point out, an attack on him or Sturgeon for that matter, is off limits because it challenges the very notion of a devolved government
So all he has to do is to blame ‘Westminster’ when it all goes pear-shaped. A get out of jail card he doesn’t hesitate to utilise.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Elise Davies

It is failing from my point of view but I’m not sure it is failing from his point of view. From my viewpoint, the Welsh Labour Party has only one policy – to persuade everybody that they want independence, despite the fact that referenda show that only about 28% want this.
So the voting age for the assembly has been lowered to 16. This improves the figures just a little. Then waves of children are being brainwashed to believe that independence is the panacea. After that life will be wonderful. So, in about 5 years when 50,000 people have died and 50,000 new voters have appeared, the figure will start to look good.
Seriously, this is the only policy. Plaid Cymru has only one policy – Welsh Independence. Welsh Conservatives don’t even have a policy. So Drakeford gets to win and possibly a statue in Cardiff.

E E
E E
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Drakeford is against independence as is the Welsh labour party. Its well documented. However he could be anti tory Westminster. But then again aren’t most in Wales.

Graeme Laws
Graeme Laws
1 year ago

Lots of intemperate language in many of these posts, which demonstrates splenetic anger but doesn’t perhaps advance a debate very far.

The decision to hold back the vaccine is, at best, odd. Then again, the situation in England appears to be a bit chaotic.

Devolution in Wales and Scotland was a Labour device intended
to sideline the nationalists and sustain Labour hegemony in both places. It was supposed to de-fang the SNP and keep Plaid in its place. Oops. The SNP has destroyed the Labour Party, and Welsh Labour and all the Welsh institutions seem to have been taken over by a Welsh speaking mafia, all of whom appear to want independence.

The Scots and Welsh situations are very different. Scotland was a functioning nation state until 1707. The Scots royal family had ascended the throne of England a hundred years earlier. The 1707 settlement preserved distinctly Scots Legal and Education traditions. On top of which the border with England is about a hundred miles wide.

Wales has never resembled a nation state on anything like its present borders, which in their present configuration only go back to 1974. But it did have a language, which the English tried to destroy in the 19th century, as the basis for a distinctive culture.

Just how much of the population in Wales is ‘indigenous’ is an interesting question, given the extent of immigration from all over England, Ireland and further afield to work the coal in the Valleys. The Scots have apparently decided that everyone resident in Scotland is a Scot, whether they like it or not. Plaid presumably would take the same line.

The sad thing is that the one thing that seems to unite Britons in Scotland and Wales is antipathy towards the English. They don’t seem to realise that there is antipathy towards London and Westminster politicians in England’s North East, North West, South West and East Anglia, to name but a few.

Like it or hate it, the South East of England generates the surplus that is shared with the regions of England, the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish.

The position of the nationalists is strange. They want to be out of the UK to have control of their own destinies. But then they want to hand those destinies to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. The EU project grinds on towards the ultimate goal, which is the abolition of what we now understand as the nation state.

If promoters of Scots and Welsh independence get their way, they will have to hope that the Germans will have some loose change left over when they have bailed out the Southern Europeans, and will be happy to fill the gap left by the English.

E E
E E
1 year ago

This headline is two weeks old and incorrect. Your anti devolved nations arguments are consistently juvenile Mr Hill. For your records, Wales have surpassed the other nations in vaccine rollout per capita.