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Wales is a nightmare vision of Ed Miliband’s Britain

3 March 2014

If politics was science, you would call Wales the ‘control’ group, for public service reform. Here is a country where Labour are the only game in town and a socialist philosophy which places a monopolistic state provider at the centre of health care and education reigns supreme – yes, even more supreme than the pupils and patients this system is designed to serve.

In fact, in devolved Wales, Labour are running the public services as Ed Milliband would like to see them; a Labourite utopia of State supremacy, with none of the so-called evils of alternative providers getting in the way of the tight grip of the State.

So how is this socialist utopia going, then? If a recent Question Time from Newport is anything to go by, not so good. Panellists of all affiliation got short shrift from an audience who feel severely let down by the political leadership of Wales’ devolved assembly.

And well they might. Take the damage Labour in Wales is doing to the NHS that has grabbed headlines over the past few weeks. Labour have badly betrayed their legacy on the NHS. From the heady days of Bevan to the low point they have now reached in Wales.

I recently revealed that the Chief Medical Officer for England wrote last year to his Welsh counterpart to advise that Wales conducts an investigation into worryingly high mortality data, and horrendous diagnostic waiting time statistics. He was ignored and received no reply.

This is frightening. If you need an ECG to check out a suspected heart problem in England, a situation in which every day can count, you have less than a one-in-a-hundred chance of waiting over six weeks for your scan. If you are in Wales, there’s well over a one-in-three chance it will be more than six weeks before you get your potentially life-saving ECG.

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A desperate focus not to tackle these issues, but to put all effort into covering them up reveals the fundamental instinct of Labour – to protect the reputation of the ‘System’ and the State, over patient lives — which is exactly what we saw in the case of the last Labour Government’s approach to hospitals like mid-Staffs. Sadly, we have seen that cover-up and communist-like control seems to be engraved in their DNA.

But it gets worse. In the face of opposition from Welsh Conservatives, Labour have cut the NHS budget in Wales by over £800m. At the same time they’ve refused to introduce innovations that are saving lives in England, like the Cancer Drugs Fund. Many of my constituents in Bristol North West have family across the border, so I hear their concerns first hand.

But it’s not just in the NHS. The education system is another indication of what happens when Labour’s ideologies become reality. None of Michael Gove’s focus on rigour, which has been so lambasted by many in Labour, has been adopted in Wales, and what’s the result?

Despite being home to some of our best universities, applications from people living in Wales are down, despite an overall rise for the rest of the UK. It’s a desperately sad fact that Welsh students score significantly lower that the rest of the UK in reading, science and maths.

But not only are Welsh taxpayers getting less, they are paying more. Whilst Labour love a good emotional talk about poverty, the pragmatic Conservative approach is to let people keep more of what they earn. Hence since 2010, the Government has significantly cut income tax, made the decision to freeze fuel duty and have focussed on giving councils funds to stop council tax rises too. But Welsh councils haven’t used those funds and Council Tax has risen by an average of 8% more than it has in England.

It is extraordinary to think that a country bordering England can be so many miles away in the quality of its public services; that your chances of timely diagnosis of a heart condition or your chances of going to University, can be such poles apart, just meters over a border, or across the Severn Bridge.

Yes, there are always other factors to consider, but the main point of difference is that Wales is what happens over a decade or so when an unremitting Labour leadership is allowed to put its dreams into action. And if you listen to the Labour leader’s speeches, this is exactly the same prescription that Ed Miliband is offering to the whole of the UK.

Wales has a proud history and a vibrant economy. I hope people in Wales can finally be shown the truth about the second rate services they have been told to simply accept, and demand the services they deserve, and that a new Welsh Assembly will deliver it.

But for anyone in England considering voting Labour next time, just take a look across the border, those couple of miles across the Severn, and then ask yourself this: where you would rather go through that terrible moment of discovering you might have a serious heart problem?

Charlotte Leslie is the Conservative MP for Bristol North West

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Show comments
  • Cat Hughes

    This is tosh, and is written from a biased point of view of the opposition, who have little power in this little Principality. In Wales you can get free prescriptions, there is more help for University fees and the Labour work scheme to get young people into jobs is doing far better than the English version is. Wales’ economy is growing unlike other regions in the UK. And is it any surprise that the conservatives are not popular in Wales? The Welsh have long memories, and the conservatives under Margret Thatcher destroyed the Welsh economy when they took down the miners unions and closed the mines. Once closed, no plan was put in place to help these unemployed miners get work, they were abandoned by their leaders, or so is their perception. And perception is reality. The Welsh have not forgiven the conservatives for what was done over 25 years ago. Wales does have a lot of problems: high unemployment, a low wage economy and high levels of poverty – but both the Conservatives and Labour are to blame for this. Neither have done much about the issues. In response to Charlotte Leslie’s comments on Wales not using any private sector providers – maybe they are not doing it because its not a good idea. So far Atos, G4S and ect done a spectacular job of messing up government contracts with their balls up costing the government more money. I do not have a issue with paying tax, but I don’t like the idea of my tax money going raise the profit margins of private enterprises – who are largely failing at providing a good and honest service.

  • Mike Morris

    Hi Charlotte
    When you allude to the joys of the private sector are you maybe thinking about people like ATOS, who turned out not to be able to fulfill their contract?
    Just wondering.

  • Chris1964

    Carlotte Leslie puts the blame for failures in Welsh public services on the
    Welsh Labour administration. Surely these failures are to do with the UK
    Government’s underfunding of Welsh public services? Wales’ public service
    budgets are set from the money allocated to Wales from the UK Government
    through the discredited Barnett formula.

    And in 2010 the Holtham Commission estimated that Wales is
    currently getting £400 million less per year than it should. This means that
    since 2010 Wales has missed out on over £1 Billion which could have been used
    in our health service, education, transport, etc.

    So when Charlotte Leslie’s constituents complain to her about the state
    of Wales’ public services she should say the truth – “Its because Wales is chronically underfunded in health/education/transport when compared to England”

    And in the case of higher mortality rates the Barnett Formula is no
    doubt costing Welsh lives. Sadly David Cameron said in December a review of
    Barnett “is not on the horizon”. Maybe Charlotte Leslie can campaign in Parliament to change the Barnett Formula to a fair system.

  • Inane Rambler

    This is surreal. Little hint to the Conservative and Unionist Party: YOU OPPOSED THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NHS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

  • aron lipshitz

    A six-week waiting list for an ECG? In backward South Africa, my GP would routinely give me an ECG in his surgery , as well as a dozen or so blood-screening tests. It cost about seventy rand ( £4.50), all but a few pennies paid for by tax-deductible medical insurance. Waiting time for an appointment could sometimes be as long as a whole day during busy times.

  • Paul Rutherford

    The article states that I would have to wait over 6 weeks for an ECG to check if I had a heart problem.

    Well, I can categorically state that if I need an ECG, I can almost certainly get one within a week.

    As a user of NHSWales, I have nothing but praise for them. Yes, there may be faults, but be careful when quoting statistics.

    For example, how many cancelled operations were a result of a greater need for the theatre[s] in event of an emergency such as an RTA or an older person brought in with immediate need of life-saving surgery? I could go on.

    I have waited in an ambulance at A&E myself. Why? Because there were people usung the department who could have been treated non-urgently at their GP Surgery. An A&E nurse told me that when apologising for my wait.

    Things are NOT always what they seem.

    And at the end of the day, the Welsh Assembly is funded by the Coalition in Westminster, who are underfunding Wales, setting Welsh Labour up to be seen as failing. This article adds to that perception.

  • gelert

    An ECG should be done immediately if necessary. I think you are referring to a stress ECG, or a 24 hour ECG monitor. Even then, six weeks is too long.

    The Welsh are paying the price for voting for any clown who wears a Labour rosette. Serves them right.

    • Paul Rutherford

      As I posted above, I can get an ECG within a week, maximum. On the day is more likely.

  • PaulfromYorkshire

    The British Medical Association in Wales rebuts the claim that outcomes in Wales are worse than in England and calls it a “wicked scandal”.

    Once again Ms Leslie is spouting rubbish on a subject she demonstrably knows little about.

  • MassiveEUloverboy

    Destroying Wales and going to lose us Scotland next. Can’t they do anything right?

  • ted_2012

    As a Welshman I can confirm that “Labour are the only game in town” but that isn’t the Conservatives fault . Leftist politics are so entrenched in Welsh life: a Donkey wearing a red flag would receive more votes than a Tory politician . Yet it was all the more surprising to see on Question time, towards the end, a man telling everyone “it’s about time that people stopped voting for the Labour party” ; I never thought in a million years someone in a Question time audience would say something I’d agree with !

    • Jambo25

      I think it may be because the Tories have the same problem in Wales as they do in Scotland. They struggle as they have been seen as a suburban South East England party since the time of Heath and Thatcher. They have few policies which make much sense to a peripheral, weak economic are such as Wales.

    • Daniel Maris

      Well there’s a reason that has to do with millions of people of a couple of hundred years subjected to harsh working conditions, thousands of deaths in mines, then the callous way the mines were closed in South Wales. Also, Tories are identified with the English invaders who built all those castles to oppress the Welsh people.

      The Tories would have to deliver economic prosperity in Wales to get any purchase.

      • Wessex Man

        I take it from that sad racist rant you are Welsh, so why don’t you campaign for your independence? or is that too much like hard work to you?

  • Mr Creosote

    Charlotte..on the Question Time to which you allude, I suggest you have a word with your panelist colleague who was utterly useless. Aside from letting the odious Harman completely off the hook, her comments on all the other issues were insipid, vague and misinformed. If you’re going to try and change hearts and minds, you really need to put up somebody with a bit more backbone.

  • Kitty MLB

    Indeed Labour have made a shocking state of Wales.
    In fact some parts or Wales and indeed, beautiful Scotland are
    in a absolute pox of a place mainly because of Labour.
    Yet they are still voted for in these places because the majority
    are bias against those ‘ posh’ Tories. Helped by the lies spread by the
    leftie establishment, and the fact that the electorate feel disconnected
    with the conservative party.
    Yet as Her Ladyship has said Byron Johnson and Farage have wide appeal.
    I can envisage a platter of Salmond in Scotland, and
    a Kipper in Downing Street- no idea about Boris.

    • Jambo25

      Scotland is still wealthier than any other part of the UK other than London and the South East and the differential between Scotland and the South East isn’t that great.

      • McRobbie

        Its got more benefit receivers so I suppose that may make scotland more wealthy.

        • Jambo25

          Right, so just ignore the facts.

      • Ooh!MePurse!

        What is the source for your claim? ONS stats for household wealth show Scotland bumping around the lower end.

        • Jambo25

          GVA figures for the various regions and nations of the UK showed the following figures Scotland £19,744 England £20,442. That, however 1) Did not include Oil revenues. 2) The English figures are badly distorted by the effect of London. Take out London and the English GVA figures drop away dramatically. nisra gov uk pubs.

  • David B

    It is the socialist way.

  • Swiss Bob

    And at the next election they’ll all vote for the same clowns.

    • Mr Creosote

      Even though their leader was spouting off at the weekend about the downtrodden poor, whilst sporting a mid-winter sun tan.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Sanctimony and hypocrisy are welded into the DNA of Fascist Labour as are the twin totems of failure and mediocrity. Labour the party of lies, lying and liars.

  • Mark McIntyre

    HA HA HA, HE HE HE, HO HO HO – loving it !…
    Wales = Liebore Britain – WRIT LARGE !
    Unfortunately there be still too many parts of Blighty where THICKO’S ‘rule the roost’ – inner cities, council estates, Scotland, Northern England, Wales – these places should be indicted for their ignorance. Without this ‘bedrock’ of thickness – Blighty would be in no danger of ever suffering another Liebore government – shame on them.

    • Jambo25

      Is that why Scotland is one of the wealthiest parts of the UK?

      • McRobbie

        I live up here in Scotland..the word wealthy is not one that comes to mind as I walk around the cities and towns…now london and the south..thats different.

        • Jambo25

          Then I would suggest you keep your eyes open a bit more. I’d also suggest that you look at the underlying economic figures for Scotland and the other 11 economic regions of the UK. I also live in Scotland, splitting my time between Edinburgh and rural Dumfriesshire and while there are pockets of poverty most people are doing OK. Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbright, Kelso, Perth etc seem to be doing just as well as even some of the nicer southern English towns.

          • Erictheowl

            If you spend time in Edinburgh, just have a little walk around “downtown Leith” – any weekday afternoon, then come back and tell us about the wealth and prosperity …..

            • Jambo25

              And you can walk round virtually any other British city (In fact most European cities) and see the same thing. It doesn’t alter the fact that Edinburgh is an extremely wealthy city by anybody’s standards. GVA figures of £35,000+ a year. I actually live in Edinburgh and was brought up in one of the poorest areas. The Dumbiedykes, back in the 50s and 60s, made present day Leith look like the Celestial City. You also forget to mention the spiffy new flat developments down by the old Leith docks or the couple of dozen up scale bars and restaurants down there. The people eating in Kitchin’s or Wishart’s aren’t exactly poor. It is just like any number of areas being ‘gentrified’ in big European cities.

              • JackyTreehorn

                Good news! If scotch land is doing so well we can expect a yes vote in the referendum.
                No more decietful labour scum getting power in England again.

                • Jambo25

                  I’m simply giving accurate information. What are you on here for?

                • JackyTreehorn

                  Umm I suppose I’m registering my pleasure in the fact that if the scotch are doing so well they are more likely to vote yea in the referendum so ending any chance of the socialist destroying what’s left in England by gaining power. I thought I said that.
                  The scotch can then have fun living in the socialist utopia they long for.

                • Jambo25

                  Hate to disappoint you but I think there’ll be a ‘No’ vote in September. What is worse from your point of view is that economic experts think that the Scottish economy is liable to do rather better than the UK as a whole independent or not.

                • JackyTreehorn

                  True it will be disappointing that labour could still call on the scotch tribal vote but I think the ‘experts’ would be proven wrong by the loony left if they voted yes
                  Probably the only thing to look forward to is that if they vote yes the right will win in England, if they vote no we can all laugh at the future mess they will make of scotch land.

  • Colin56

    Straightforward answer: don’t live in Wales. The Welsh voted in the Labour administration, so they have to live with the consequences. Simples. The NHS in Wales is not something that should be occupying the time of the NHS Medical Director for England (clue’s in the title). Health and education are devolved ‘competencies’; so the best we in the rest of the UK can do is try solving our own problems and let the Welsh get on with theirs. Same with Scotland when they vote for independence.

    • GnosticBrian

      The “am I my brother’s keeper” approach.

    • Wessex Man

      Tell that to the thousands of English families forced to use Welsh Hospitals for politicallt correct reasons and to boost the Welsh Barnett payments!

      • Conway

        I live just over the border in England. My consultant said that my nearest hospital (in Wales) “might as well be in Mongolia”.

    • Andy

      Correct. The Welsh vote for it, so suffer it. I want Health, Education etc devolved for England so we have control of our affairs.

  • LadyDingDong

    And yet despite all of the excellent points you make, the Welsh, like the Scots, prefer to vote in the ineptocratic Labour party, and wiill continue to do so while the Conservatives fail to connect with them. The great lady was the last Conservative to cross the working class barrier and until we find another of her ilk, conservatism in the UK will be an ever decreasing circle. Curiously, Farage and Boris both have the across-the-classes appeal, but neither offer an immediate release from the strangle hold of the social democrats currently in command.

    • dalai guevara

      Farage has across-the-classes appeal, ahaha, if that were so it is curiosly confined to retirement living in the South East.

  • Mynydd

    Just a small point Labour are a minority government in Wales, which means its policies, most importantly the budget, must be agreed by the opposition parties who can vote them out of office

    • GnosticBrian

      And did labour choose to rule as a minority government or were all reasonable attempts to form a coalition rebuffed?

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      No it is simply an irrelevant point. labour chose to form a minority government because nobody else would soil themselves in a coalition with the most dishonest party in Britain.

      • Mynydd

        So why not vote them out

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          What chance with all those Labour ‘postal’ votes?

  • derek

    Welcome to the Socialist Workers paradise that is S. Wales

    • Andy

      National Socialist Workers paradise surely ?

  • Colonel Mustard

    Labour prove themselves uniquely able to ruin countries and then practice the deception of pretending they are somehow not responsible. It is always someone else’s fault and no matter how much evidence is accumulated for the inherent folly of their creed they insist on repeating its failures ad nauseum.

    What a sorry bunch of losers and liars they are. But their prolonged deception is unfortunately aided by the broader media, especially the BBC, who fail to hold them properly to account. This article would never have been written by journalists who prefer to dwell on the ineptitude of Tories rather than the malevolence of Labour. Labour’s cunning tri-partite collective have also managed to skilfully de-legitimise any quarters of criticism by invoking the quasi-religious “Labour a force for good”, as though the intention trumps the consequences, and increasingly by suggesting that a simplistic morality play concept of ‘good vs bad’ prevails in the public narrative of politics. Well they are simply bad in all senses of that word but their adherents will continue to vote for them regardless.

    They remind me of Charles I with a stubborn and arrogant belief in their divine right to rule over us regardless of the miserable reality and inevitable consequences whenever they do.

    • telemaque

      How interesting
      And just who do you wish to walk to the banqueting house?
      Ed, Ed, Harriet?

      “He declared that he had desired the liberty and freedom of the people as much as any, “but I must tell you that their liberty and freedom consists in having government … It is not their having a share in the government; that is nothing appertaining unto them….”

      I detect another example of the desire to be rid of any effective government

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        No just an erudite exposure of the reality of Fascist Labour the party of mediocrity, failure, lies, lying and filthy liars.

      • Colonel Mustard

        What is interesting, in the light of your recent libellous comments about me, is the difference between my comment – abstract about the Labour party – and yours, which is about me.

        Or attempts to be. Nothing in my original comment suggested that any member of the Labour party should suffer the same fate as Charles I or refuted any quotation from him – especially a quotation that tends to confirm that comparison. I wish no-one to walk to the banqueting house since I do not believe in capital punishment, however much it might be deserved in some cases. The comment was about the similarity of their arrogance and belief in a divine right to rule without question or challenge. That is all. Your unhealthy obsession and desire to control the discourse here reveals itself once again for all to see.

        But as usual all you offer is ‘tagging’, the smugly feigning enlightenment but underlying malevolence of “How interesting” and an ad hominem smear based on an invented supposition. And of course those of us who know the Labour party and its habitual tactics online (not everyone loves your party despite what you arrogantly presume), know well the technique of inventing a meaning that was not articulated in order to attack it. The “So you think . . .” ploy used by almost every lefty troll currently infesting the web.

        • Kitty MLB

          He does seem to have a Little obsession with antagonising
          you in particular Colonel and not much else to offer except extreme leftie claptrap.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Provocation is one of ‘his’ mischievous specialisations. ‘He’ thinks he is being clever.

          • telemaque


            • Colonel Mustard

              Your attention is unwanted and unwelcome.

              • Kitty MLB

                Oh Colonel, how weird, perhaps he
                will turn his attentions elsewhere.
                He is a sandwich short of a picnic
                as my granny used to say.

      • Andy

        Harriet ? The paedos friend.

        • telemaque

          Ordinarily Andy your ad hominems are directed at posters
          Now you join Dacre in trying to smear a delightful and caring politician
          Please withdraw your remark

          • Ooh!MePurse!

            Who are you to attempt to give others orders?

            • Paul Rutherford

              Mr Rock.

              • Ooh!MePurse!

                Thanks for creeping me out at this hour. You sleep well too.

          • Andy

            Let me put this simply so you will understand: **** off.

            Harman went to work at the NCCL when PIE were already (following an invitation from NCCL) affiliated to them. While the cow remained working for NCCL, PIE remained affiliated. After the cow left PIE remained affiliated for over a year. If she was so against pedophiles she would never have had anything to do with NCCL while PIE were affiliated. The fact that she did, and was more than happy to remain, suggests to me and many others that she didn’t care and doesn’t care about child abuse. Silence condones Consent.

            And it is not a smear, you Fascist moron, to speak the truth, which the above is. What is a smear is what you and the Fascist scum at the BBC did to the late Lord McAlpine.

            • telemaque

              Harman as legal officer was asked for advice
              She was not set the task of trawling thru the 1000 or so affiliates
              Get real

              • Andy

                You get real. The chairman of PIE sat on an NCCL committee. And yet Harman still thought it was a good idea to work for NCCL.

                The only smearing going on is from scum like you and the BBC when you smeared the late Lord McAlpine.

              • Catalanbrian

                Telemanque, Clearly Andy s as mad as a hatter. Don’t waste your energy on typing replies to his babble. It’s just not worth it

    • Andy

      Charles I might have been a bad King, but was a good man. And for all his many faults, he was sinned against. He was our lawful King and was murdered by radicals, like the scum that posts on here.

  • Robert_Eve

    Tell us something we don’t know.

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