Politician complains about PM's political point-scoring
- 7 July 2014
- From the section Wales politics
A new battle has begun in what Labour like to call the "war on Wales".
The party's shadow Welsh Secretary, Owen Smith, has written to the prime minister to complain (again) about David Cameron's constant criticism - usually during question time - of the Welsh government's performance on public services.
Mr Smith wrote: "You will know that 54% of British people will have seen or heard PMQs in the last 12 months and it is beamed to the USA and across the world. Yet viewers over the last four years will have noted that the only mentions you make of Wales are to undermine the nation, in an attempt at political point scoring."
It's possible that Mr Cameron is not the first politician to find himself accused of trying to score political points, but the letter follows last week's PMQs during which - unusually - Ed Miliband chose to defend the Welsh government's record on the NHS rather than ignore it.
In his letter, Mr Smith wrote: "In recent meetings with Welsh business leaders I was worried to hear their stark warnings that these constant public attacks on Wales risk tarnishing our reputation across the UK and internationally."
Who might they be then? Mr Smith's office isn't saying. He suggested the prime minister should meet Welsh business leaders which "would provide an opportunity for you to better understand concerns regarding the risks involved in constantly seeking to diminish the Welsh brand". He adds: "I look forward to hearing from you."
He's still waiting for a reply, although it will follow the lines of a statement from a UK government spokesperson: "The Welsh Labour government has proved itself to be incapable of providing the essential services for which it is responsible, and the UK government has no qualms in pointing out these failures to the electorate."
Owen Smith's other contribution to political debate today may prove more enduring. Appearing on the BBC's Daily Politics programme, he became the most prominent Labour politician to back Thursday's planned strikes by public sector workers.
I suspect Ed Miliband, who has previously condemned public sector strikes as "wrong", might have chosen his words slightly differently today. Asked if he supported the strikes, Mr Smith said: "Yes, I do. I think it's a very legitimate thing for them to voice their concern about the nature of their jobs right now, about how long people are going to have to work about how much they're earning.
"I think that entirely legitimate and I think it entirely problematic that the current rhetoric in this country, in the media and in the Tory party in particular, is about de-legitimising what we should be protecting as a fundamental right - to withdraw one's labour. I think that entirely understandable."
You won't be surprised to learn that a Conservative Party press release - "Labour are still the party of strikes and uncontrolled public sector pay" - has just arrived in my inbox.