As the UK Covid Inquiry blasts on, as do daily revelations of the professional and moral abyss at the heart of Westminster, I can’t help but wonder if this style of ‘government-by-Whatsapp’ could be avoided completely. Every person in the UK deserves lawmakers with their fingers on the pulse, understanding what we actually want. Instead of being literally in the pockets of bad actors like Russian oligarchs, militant lobbyists, and those looking for a quick profit at our expense.
I’m sick and tired of out-of-touch politicians starting sentences with phrases like, “What the people of this country want”, “the will of the people”, “the people’s priorities”. Then saying something that can’t possibly be the will of the people, or most of them, anyway.
I can’t put my finger on when this made up “will of the people” business first started, in place of what people really want, but it needs to be stamped out. Until and after the next UK general election, there is no choice. We all know who will win. Lame duck governments serve no one but their own interests. But until then, we are trapped in this cycle of troll politics and disappearing messages.
Given the devolved nature of health policy in the UK, it is vitally important that Wales and Scotland have separate Covid inquiries. We must all be armed with the knowledge and evidence we need to ensure the same things don’t happen again. But even with this level of devolution, there was fallout from Westminster that deeply affected Wales.
Preventable deaths occurred in all health jurisdictions and we deserve to know what really happened. Can there be justice? I’m not optimistic. Closure, perhaps. An airing of the truth, and a holding to account.
The devolved administrations have already been mentioned at the UK Inquiry multiple times. Most frequently followed by a statement to the effect of “Boris Johnson didn’t care about them”. The phrase “mini-EU” was used by the then-Prime Minister. But he was fundamentally wrong, just as he was in his Covid response.
Even with devolution, the UK is nothing like the EU. Every EU member state has a say on matters affecting all member states. Countries with smaller populations, such as Malta, still have strong representation, a veto, and domestic control over their own economy, borrowing, investment, taxes, and the laws enforced within their borders.
Wales does not have any of this. No veto, no control over monetary levers like borrowing or tax laws. Some of the most profitable land in Wales is still owned by the Crown. Even as That Individual gets flustered over a pen at his own initiation party, we have no say in who fills that role, or whether it should even exist. Similarly, in the halls of Westminster, Wales has no real voice. The will of the people, of our people, goes unheard.
In 1965, Tryweryn showed that there was no way to stop Westminster imposing its iron fist upon Wales. Nothing has changed in that regard. Nothing at all. The only place where the people of Wales have a real say in any of their own issues is in the Senedd.
When our lame duck UK government finally accepts that “the will of the people” is an immediate general election (73% according to polling), still nothing will change in Wales. There’ll be a different PM with very slightly different priorities, who has failed to even mention Wales in his last two conference speeches. Cymru will still be at the bottom of the priority list. Twas was ever thus.
Many of us don’t realise it but, with the Senedd, we can make a difference. Every vote counts. Fed up with Drakeford and Labour party dominance? Your vote matters. Tired of Tories offering no opposition? Your vote matters. In every possible situation, your vote actually matters in the Senedd. And yet, it could matter even more.
The true will of the people
In the Senedd, we have a government of clingers, and an opposition of clangers. Wales deserves better. But right now, it’s the only place where our voices will ever be heard. From a democratic standpoint, there is no credible argument for Wales staying under Westminster rule. Where “the will of the people” is decided on in, and imposed by, WhatsApp groups. Literally dialling it in.
According to polling from Redfield, Welsh voters overwhelmingly care about two things: the NHS (62%), which is devolved, and the economy (58%), which isn’t but which underpins literally everything else, including the NHS. If these are the true priorities of Welsh people, “the will of the people”, there is only one way they will ever be addressed for the benefit of Wales, its people, and its future: with Wales as an independent country.
Let’s be free to build policies according to our own, actual priorities. To lay the foundations for a better, brighter future. To protect the things which matter to the people of Wales by having a government with their interests at heart. A government that doesn’t make things up on WhatsApp but which truly cares about the will of the people. Of the people of Wales.
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