Many thanks to blog subscriber ST for sending me page 1 of ‘the Observer’ – the Conservative election pamphlet covering Dinas Powys, Llandough and Penarth. And before you go scrabbling through your recycling, ‘Welsh People are Staggeringly Incompetent’ wasn’t the title of one of their articles, it’s just a conclusion I came to from reading it. [Apparently there are 3 other pages – if anyone can find a way to scan the remaining pages I’d be delighted to provide a full review of the content and layout – perhaps the Conservatives themselves could follow Plaid’s lead?]
Something I saw in the leaflet gave me oblique cause to think about Secretaries of State for Wales. Stay with me everyone! – this post is going to take you somewhere quite logically.
Since the post of Secretary of State for Wales was created in 1964, we’ve had 18 Governors-General for Wales. Actually, that’s not strictly true, because Peter Hain, Paul Murphy and David Hunt have sat in Gwydyr House twice apiece (David Hunt for a grand total of 10 days second time around). But you get the gist. So let’s have a look at the constituencies represented by these 15 politicians during their appointments as SoS Wales:
- 1964-1966 Jim Griffiths (Labour) – Llanelli
- 1966-1968 Cledwyn Hughes (Labour) – Ynys Môn
- 1968-1970 George Thomas (Labour) – Cardiff West
- 1970-1974 Peter Thomas (Conservative) – Hendon South
- 1974-1979 John Morris (Labour) – Aberavon
- 1979-1987 Nicholas Edwards (Conservative) – Pembrokeshire
- 1987-1990 Peter Walker (Conservative) – Worcester
- 1990-1993 and 1995 David Hunt (Conservative) – Wirral West
- 1993-1995 John Redwood (Conservative) – Wokingham
- 1995-1997 William Hague (Conservative) – Richmond (Yorks.)
- 1997-1998 Ron Davies (Labour) – Caerphilly
- 1998-1999 Alun Michael (Labour) – Cardiff South and Penarth
- 1999-2002 and 2008-2009 Paul Murphy (Labour) Torfaen
- 2002-2008 and 2009-2010 Peter Hain (Labour) Neath
- 2010-present Cheryl Gillan (Conservative) Chesham and Amersham
I’m sure the eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that there’s a common factor here. All the Labour Secretaries of State represented Welsh constituencies. Six of the seven Conservatives to have held the post (Nicholas Edwards being the honourable exception) have represented English constituencies. Is it just me or could there be more to this than coincidence? Is there something in the Conservative mind that makes them think that Welsh representatives don’t know what’s best for Wales? Or, put another way, that English representatives know better? Perhaps they genuinely believe that Welsh people are too incompetent for this role.
So just how does all this tie in to the DP, Ll & P Observer?
If you look at the very small print close to the bottom of page 1 you’ll see that it’s printed by Harmsworth Printing, Meadow Rd, Derby. You’ll note that Harmsworth Printing is one of those struggling small local businesses that the Conservatives are so keen to support (£184M turnover in 2009). Its principal business is printing the Daily Mail.
It’s more than a tiny bit ironic that Cllrs. Paul Church and Sophie Williams say that they’re “keen to make sure… we secure the very best for you, for St. Augustine’s ward and for Penarth”. Hands up who thinks Penarth’s needs are best served by printing off thousands of sheets of election propaganda 170 miles away (in England) and trucking them in? And how about their pledge that “we always ensure that value for money where the public purse is concerned is a priority”? If this is their approach to their own party’s finances, I’m not sure they’re best qualified to be running our council. [I’d be delighted to receive election communication from other candidates, regardless of political affiliation, to hold our candidates to account – you can send your scanned copies to penartharbyd[a]gmail.com].
Could it be that there’s not a single printer in the whole of Wales that’s not up to the job of running off a few thousand copies of a 4-pager? Try telling that to these guys.
Or could it be that the Conservatives in Penarth, like their colleagues at the head of the party, consider Welsh people simply too incompetent to deal with such a tricky job.