With more than 300 Covid-19 related deaths in Wales and a sharp rise forecast,time is not on our side.
The Welsh Labour Grassroots Steering Committee wrote to First Minister MarkDrakeford this week saying that, “whilst we applaud the efforts of our Welsh Labour Government in tackling this crisis, much tougher action is urgently needed. We implore you and your Government to do all within your powers to safeguard the lives of all people living in Wales.”
In his response, Mark agreed that “it is very important we have our own, distinctive approach to dealing with Coronavirus in Wales” and cites a number of examples to demonstrate that “we do not hesitate to act in ways, which reflect Welsh needs and the values of a Labour Government” – but we are calling on Welsh ministers to go still further.
We know where the largest share of responsibility lies for the severity of this crisis. The policies of successive Tory governments, driven by neoliberal dogma,have undermined vital public services like the NHS through underfunding andprivatisation. The current Tory administration’s failure to provide sufficient PPE, undertake widespread testing or mobilise our manufacturing base to these endsis costing lives, as is the failure to close non-essential workplaces.
While devolution has enabled Wales to pursue a different path, our continued dependence on Westminster for funding and access to resources pooled between the UK’s four component parts has exposed people in Wales to theconsequences of Tory mismanagement and irresponsibility.
But the crisis demands urgent and decisive action. With so many lives at stake,and with a Tory government that has put the market before people andcontinues to founder, Wales cannot simply proceed in lock-step with the UK Government. Collaboration is no bad thing, especially in times of crisis, however,for a proud, socialist nation our response should instinctively be different from the one defined by Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings.
As Welsh Labour members we appeal to Mark Drakeford and our Welsh Labour Government to redouble their efforts and to push the limits of devolved powers to their utmost in order to reduce deaths from this pandemic and help rally the nation.
We believe there are a number of measures where we could go above and beyond to protect people here in Wales. These are set out in our letter to the First Minister, which is available below, along with his response.
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