In his piece for Gwydir, Paul Davies MS – the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament – has called for focus on policies and people in politics, and particularly in the forthcoming elections.
Two years on from my election as Welsh Conservative leader, I vow to deliver for the people of Wales. Our devolution revolution will deliver more jobs, better hospitals and safer streets across the whole of Wales writes Paul Davies MS.
It might not surprise anyone but my favourite cheese is Pembrokeshire Cheddar. Being born and bred in West Wales, it’s my favourite cheese not just because it reminds me of home but it just tastes good.
Similarly, the naughtiest thing I ever did when I was younger was to take part in a few too many pub lock-ins in my youth – disappearing Saturday but making sure I was back at home for Sunday roast.
And it may be seen as a cop out, but one of my favourite hobbies is eating out with my wife Julie and our friends after a day of walking around our beautiful Pembrokeshire coast.
Next time I see the Chancellor I must thank him personally for the “Eat Out to Help Out” discount, although Boris’ new drive to lose weight was on my mind with every forkful of gorgeous food – the post-lockdown, pre-Christmas diet definitely starts now… although I might leave hiring a personal trainer of Strictly Come Dancing stars to the Prime Minister.
It’s at this point that my team are telling me that I should add in that I am a first-language Welsh speaker, only learning English at the age of five when I started school, and that before I was elected to the Welsh Parliament I used to be a bank manager helping new and small businesses to get start-up loans to grow.
Now the political geeks amongst us will know exactly why the information above is a tiny bit of political satire, but for the people that matter, the wider Welsh public, these are random bits of information that quite frankly they just don’t care about.
Yes, many people will find it helps to create a better understanding of who their future First Minister is, what makes them tick. It’s certainly more information than the Labour Party are giving out. Who knows who the First Minister might be if Labour wins a sixth term in office and the current First Minister follows through with his pledge not to serve a full term. Quite frankly, people deserve to know who they’re voting for.
But many people say they are getting tired of personality politics. My wife Julie works in the NHS, not on the frontline, but her work is essential to make sure that key workers get the support they need to save lives. She definitely does not want to be dragged across Wales during the election campaign, especially when she isn’t standing, and won’t be making any policy decisions. We will continue to do what every married couple does, and that’s support each other in what we want to do. I just happen to want to be First Minister of Wales. What Julie will say is what’s more important is that people know what I as your First Minister will do to deliver for the people of Wales. What does this devolution revolution look like that I and my colleagues have been writing about all over the Summer.
Well, I am Welsh but I am also a Conservative. And I am not alone. There are more than half a million Welsh Conservatives in Wales at the last count. We are not unusual, we are not irrelevant as many in Welsh public life will make you think – we do matter. And we can deliver real change next year.
We will deliver a devolution revolution where we create an environment for businesses to start up and grow, where hard work pays, creating more jobs to get people out of poverty to create a better life for them and their families.
We will deliver a devolution revolution where profit and ambition are not seen as dirty words but as things to aspire to. More profitable businesses doesn’t just mean more jobs for local people but it means more revenue raised from taxes to pay for our vital public services. We will stop biting off the hand that feeds our public services but encourage them to grow so that we can grow together.
We will deliver a devolution revolution in our schools by ending the underfunding of our schools. Our young people shouldn’t be short-changed of £200 each compared to pupils in England, they should be allowed to thrive. We will invest in our schools and give them the tools to end a decade of failed governments holding back our young people.
We will deliver a devolution revolution in infrastructure. We will deliver an M4 Relief Road, we will improve transport infrastructure in North Wales and we will deliver affordable renewable energy projects that will ensure Wales powers the world again, whilst also protecting our coastal communities. We will deliver a devolution revolution by taking the bold decisions, we will work constructively across government so that everything we do helps the people of Wales.
And that is ultimately what politics is all about. Politics is about people. When I launch my ambitious manifesto for the Welsh Parliament elections next year, I want people to know that I will deliver on that manifesto. I won’t spend my time talking about my favourite cheese, or how hard things are – if you put your trust in me, we will deliver.
There will be no more policy announcements on the hoof designed to pit Wales against England. I have Boris’ mobile number, I won’t be afraid to give him a call and tell him what we’re doing, how we can work together to make it happen. All before telling the press.
Boris wants to “unblock the nostrils of the Welsh dragon”, and I want to do the same. Together we will make it happen and we will deliver for the people of Wales. Our devolution revolution will deliver more jobs, better hospitals and safer streets across the whole of Wales.
And one final thought, because I’m sure you’re desperate to know…my favourite drink is a cold lager and I know it was love lamb week last week but my favourite food is gammon steak and chips. Don’t tell Boris…I promise to balance it out with a salad.
Matt Smith is a Conservative who stood for Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. He was a policy analyst at Vote Leave. He has written about Welsh politics for The Daily Telegraph, Conhome, BrexitCentral, CAPX, GlobalVisionUK, Institute of Welsh Affairs and Gwydir. You can read more about Welsh politics at www.mattsmith.org.uk/news.