‘In [Labour] Wales we’re like a third-world country when it comes to our healthcare….’

…I’m sure Aneurin Bevan would be turning in his grave.

On NHS crises – responsibility lies where it lies, and people out there understand that too

– Labour’s Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford has a message for leaders of his Party in Scotland.

By stewartb

Being a bit of a political nerd, I quite often watch/read opposition parties’ assaults on Scotland’s First Minister at FMQs. I am also known to show particular interest in opposition parties’ assaults on the FM and the Cabinet Secretary for Health over the state of NHS Scotland.

A pattern emerges from these observations of the political discourse over NHS Scotland: spokespersons for the Labour Party in Scotland are at least as vitriolic in their attacks as the Tories, arguably more so. Moreover, Labour politicians in Scotland direct their ire solely towards the SNP Government: they seem not to include the Tories, in government in Westminster, in their sights.

Readers of TuS will be familiar with the evidence that on many metrics NHS Scotland outperforms the NHS in England, NI and Wales. And of course we know that Labour is in power in Cardiff, has been for ‘ever’. Today I had a thought! What can we learn beyond the statistics? What happens on the floor of the Senedd when NHS Wales comes up in debates? What charges are thrown at the Labour Welsh government and how does the Labour FM respond? Is there any learning available here for our own MSPs, notably Mr Sarwar and Ms Baillie?

As just one example, I reviewed the transcript of Welsh FMQs held on 18 October 2022 which had questions on NHS Wales. (https://record.senedd.wales/Plenary/13011#A75103 ).  Below are some extracts.

In response to the Tory leader of the opposition in the Senedd, Andrew R.T. Davies who raised the issue of ‘incidences where ambulances could not turn up to critical incidents’, FM Mark Drakeford stated:

’Llywydd (Presiding Officer), I agree that the Welsh ambulance service is under enormous pressure. Itll be under far greater pressure when his party has finished cutting the budget of the health service, as Jeremy Hunt has said he intends to do. Yes, you can groan and you can moan, but the responsibility lies where it lies, and people out there understand that too. Yes, the system is under huge pressure; we know its under huge pressure. I spoke to someone who was at the game where that incident took place, and they told me that when the ambulance driver arrived, they explained the other calls that they had been on already that day, including a number of calls to 999 that didnt need an ambulance to be there at all. So, the system is under enormous pressure from legitimate demand and demand that should have gone to a different part of the system.’

And again from the Tory opposition leader:  ’I, unlike you, First Minister, have never voted to cut a health budget. You have, First Minister. Your party has been running the health service here, which the ambulance service is an important part of, for the last 23 years. [Interruption.]

‘Another incident happened in Merthyr Tydfil, where a patient was left on the floor after a 15-hour wait—a 15-hour wait—where the individual’s daughter said—and I’ll quote her words; they’re not my words, they’re her words:

‘In Wales we’re like a third-world country when it comes to our healthcare…I’m sure Aneurin Bevan would be turning in his grave.’

‘They’re not my words, they’re from someone whose father was rolling around on a floor for 15 hours. You have been responsible for the health service here in Wales for 23 years. You voted to cut the health budget here in Wales. You can throw your pen down, First Minister, but you are responsible. What are you going to do about it?

Mr Drakeford’s response:  ’ …. Just shouting at me about the difficulties that are there in the ambulance service, which I acknowledge, and we are working very hard with people who work in the ambulance service to get that service where it needs to be. There’s no solution to that by shouting at me as though all the right in this argument belonged to him, which we certainly know it doesn’t, and everybody else is at fault. I completely refute, on behalf of those people who work so hard everyday in our health service in Wales, that it is accurately described in the way that he did, whoever he may be quoting. Our health service does miracles every single day in the lives of people here in Wales, and it does it because we have dedicated people, doctors, nurses and others, who will have heard him describe the service that they provide in the way that he did. If he thinks that helps at all to improve the service, to make people come in and drive those ambulances and staff those accident and emergency departments, I tell him now, it absolutely does not.’

Next from the Tory leader: ’You are the First Minister, you haven’t said once in response to my two questions the solution that the Government is proposing to take this pressure out of the ambulance service and allow them to get on with the job that they do, which is a fantastic job when it works correctly. ‘

’Now, this is happening time and time again. I could have cited— [Interruption.] I hear sedentary voices. I accept that there are pressures across the United Kingdom, but the issue here in Wales is particularly acute. What I want to leave this Chamber understanding is (sic) what the road map from the Welsh Government is, as we go further into the winter months, to alleviate these problems, so that Aneurin Bevan will not be turning in his grave, and that our Government, which is responsible for the health service, has a solution to the problems that Mr Morris’s and other families are facing day in, day out.’

And Drakeford’s response:  ’What do people who work in the service—? And as I say, they’ll have heard the way that the Member has described the service they provide this afternoon. What do they face? They—[Interruption.] He has chosen to use that language this afternoon, he didn’t—[Interruption.] And you have chosen to use that language here this afternoon. What do those people face? They face cuts to their pay because of the policy of your Government, and now they face cuts to the budgets that the health service itself will have at its disposal. It is shocking. It is absolutely shocking to me that you think that you can turn up here this afternoon, with the mess that your party has made of the budgets of this country, of the reputation of this country around the world, and that you promise those people that there will be more to come—[Interruption.] And you think you can turn up here this afternoon and claim some sort of moral high ground. What sort of world do you belong in?’

End note

The form and content of the Tory assault on Labour in the Senedd is just so reminiscent of Labour’s assault on the SNP in Holyrood. Is the Tory assault on Welsh Labour’s track record justified?

In the Senedd, a Labour FM robustly identifies the resource limitations of the devolution settlement: he calls out the culpability of Tory governments in Westminster for the present state of the NHS in Wales.

By contrast, in the Scottish Parliament, members of the same Labour Party adopt a rhetoric similar to the Tories in the Senedd – right down to the use of the personalised aberrant incident!

Although NHS Scotland often outperforms the other parts of the NHS across the UK, including Wales, and although the Scottish Government suffers the same kinds of resourcing limitations as Labour’s Welsh Government, the Labour Party in Scotland refrains from calling out its ‘Better Together’ Tory allies! 


6 thoughts on “‘In [Labour] Wales we’re like a third-world country when it comes to our healthcare….’

  1. DRossie, “Mary” Gulhane, Starwars, Baillie, Wee Wullie, Cauld-Ham.

    Scotland’s cast of hypocrites, hucksters and frauds.
    Red, Blue and Yellow Tories marching in tandem against Scotland.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Self serving rogues I would call them. Their legacy of ten years at the helm in Scotland’s parliament is atrocious, and only just being fixed now. The SNP are having to fix Labour and Tory destruction of services, infrastructure, neglect, and Labour ensuring that Scottish councils are still to this day, burdened with £billions of debt because of their PFI scheme, (scam). SNP MSP’s need to talk about Labour’s legacy in Scotland and not be scared to put the blame for gross neglect to services etc, at the door of the greedy selfservatives in Labour and Tory parties, in London and in Scotland.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As I have posted several times before I can recall a Sunday edition of Good Morning Scotland when DRoss became Tory leader, when the BBC Scotland presenter chaired a long discussion amongst representatives of the Tories, labour and the LibDems on ‘the best attack lines against the Scottish Government’.

    As the above article shows, the language used by the three unionist parties to attack is almost identical with the same honed sound-bites deployed. Today, the Mornings Programme is presenting an attack on the NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government following the interview yesterday when Humza Yusaf indicated that it will take five years to sort issues in the NHS. In the preceding programme there was an interview with the chair of the BMA, who made the usual selfish demands and then the Mornings programme commenced with Tokyo Kaye Adams gleefully reading a long list of alleged ‘failures’ .

    There are serious issues with the economy and governance of all parts of the UK and rather than seek solutions, BBC Scotland and the unionists revel in BLAMING.
    And, isn’t it well known that once someone is blamed the problem is immediately solved????????????

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Indeed I watched that episode in the Senedd unfold, the chamber fell into shocked silence when the normally calm and measured Mark Drakeford finally snapped under the verbal assault from Andrew RT Davies.
    Welsh media were all over it reporting the facts, and the comments flooded in, not a one supporting Davies’s stance on it, 100% support for Drakeford, the Ambulance Service and the NHS.
    Contrast that with BBC, Herald, Scotsman etc complete with comments in Scotland where the exact opposite persists purely as political propaganda.
    And yet the public support the FM etc all the same.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have just donated my Harry Potter magic wand to D.Ross, A.Sarwar and Cole Hamiliton c/ w instructions as to how one swings a golf club on how to completely to miss the ball
    Spot the Loony springs to mind now

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks Stewart.

    Labour’s agenda in Scotland, with the support, in fact the actual blessing of the Tories, is to undermine and blame the Scottish government for anything they can conjure, and to totally distract from the fact that er, Scotland’s ‘budget’ for services is controlled by the English government in London, and let’s not forget the attempts by the English government to stop PPE getting to Scotland during Covid.

    Labour’s British nationalist agenda is to distract from and ignore the absolutely disgraceful and criminal actions of the Tories in London, in totally trashing the UK economy. Anyone looking in who didn’t know better might believe that there are no restrictions, budgetry and otherwise, placed on the Scottish government by the government next door.

    It’s an orchestrated attack on Scotland’s democratically elected government by the BritNat state and the UK’s Labour MSP’s are following orders from London quite happily. They don’t give one hoot for the actual people, for the welfare of the people of Scotland, not in the slightest.
    Their agenda is sinister, it’s to attempt to paint a picture of failure and even culpability on the Scottish government, when the reality is, their legacy, and England’s budget restrictions on the SNHS is impacting Scotland, while they bleed Scotland dry. Disgraceful.

    Labour actually sent £billions back to Westminster in 2006, saying, ‘NOTHING to spend it on in Scotland’. Not health, social care, housing, infrastructure, jobs, nope, ‘nothing’. Then they plunged Scottish councils into £BILLIONS of debt with their ‘Private Finance Initiative’ (PFI) scheme, scamming Scotland out of £billions, still having to be paid to this day and for the next few years/decades. Imagine what Scotland could do with those £billions now!

    Come on SNP, shout to the rooftops that Labours’ legacy in Scotland is still impacting public services, (I remember seeing the terrible situation on the news about the SNHS back then, with so many people lying on trolleys in corridors and also people dying of hospital aquired infections, because LABOUR privatised cleaning services. I know someone who worked in SNHS back when Labour were at the helm, and staff were also very prone to infections because of dirty hospitals!) so Labour has absolutely not a leg to stand on when slagging off the Scottish government now.
    Heaven help us if Labour ever get near the levers of power in Scotland it just does not bear thinking about.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.