Ed Miliband is in Wales with the Shadow Cabinet today, and they’ve been busy praising the Labour government there for ‘leading the whole of the United Kingdom into economic recovery’. It’s interesting that the Westminster Labour party is so keen to hang out with Welsh Labour, as doing so simply allows the Tories to attack Miliband again for admiring a party with a rather mixed record in government.
The Welsh government has presided over a 16 per cent drop in the number of affordable homes being built from 2011/12 to 2012/13. One house builder, Persimmon, has stopped building in parts of Wales because the planning regulations there are so burdensome.
Its record on the NHS is wheeled out regularly, with longer waiting times and consistent failures to meet major targets such as the urgent cancer treatment target, which the government hasn’t met since 2008.
Wales has the worst education in the UK, according to the PISA rankings, which places Welsh schools 43rd out of 65 for maths, 41st for reading and joint 36th for science. It dropped down in the rankings for all three subjects.
Funnily enough, Labour hasn’t mentioned these problems when praising the Welsh government, instead pointing to a bigger fall in unemployment in Wales as something a Westminster Labour government would copy if it won next year’s General Election. And I understand that the reason strategists are relaxed about the Tories bringing up Wales repeatedly when trying to scare voters about what a Labour government would look like is that they don’t think voters will notice. Unless you are a voter in Wales, you probably won’t get all that aerated about the performance of Welsh Labour, so the reasoning goes. But this assumes that people don’t absorb snippets about a party as they go about their daily lives, and that they don’t notice very much indeed. What they do notice does still matter – and given UK Labour is very keen indeed to fight in 2015 on a platform of protecting ‘our NHS’, Ed Miliband’s Welsh tour looks a little less wise than you might think.