Plaid Cymru “surrender all pretence of opposition” as Drakeford gets easy ride

Plaid Cymru have been accused of failing in their duty as an opposition party by failing to scrutinise the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay.

Analysis by the Welsh Conservatives show that since September last year, when conversations for the eventual cooperation deal between the other two parties were underway, the Plaid leader has used fewer than half of FMQ sessions to question Mark Drakeford on his responsibilities.

The findings cast doubt on assertions by Labour and Plaid for the need for more Senedd members, that claim there are not enough members to hold the Welsh Government to account.

But the figures show the latter are failing in their initial duty to scrutinise in the first place, merely using their privileged position as a platform to criticise the UK Government and promoting a joint platform – which they are forbidden to talk about in FMQs – instead of holding ministers to account.

In more than 60% (17 out of 27) of FMQ sessions since last summer, the Plaid Cymru leader asked the Labour leader about powers reserved to the UK Parliament, their own cooperation agreement, or for a view on Westminster.

The absconding of responsibility reached a new low when for seven weeks in a row, the Leader of Plaid Cymru failed to ask the First Minister three questions relating to a devolved area. The cooperation deal was announced on 22 November – six months ago – and was followed by a set of questions where Price asked Drakeford about how good the agreement was.

It has led to concerns that Welsh voters are not being properly represented with the government in Cardiff Bay getting an easy ride instead of the scrutiny demanded of an opposition party.

Worries also arose when the deal was announced that Plaid Cymru would receive many of the trappings of government and opposition, something the analysis has now confirmed.

Only last week, the Presiding Officer rebuked Price for asking the First Minister several questions on how much they both agreed on their joint plan for more Senedd politicians, something not allowed under rules of engagement established at the same time as the deal, but only after the questions had been asked and answered when the Welsh Conservative leader raised a point of order.

Commenting on the findings, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS, said:

“Plaid Cymru have surrendered all pretence of being an opposition in the Senedd, firstly through their deal with Labour – which included a u-turn on harsher farming rules and backtracking on calls for a Wales Covid inquiry – but through their complete failure to scrutinise the First Minister and his Labour Government.

“We expressed our concerns when the Labour-Plaid deal was announced that it would lead to Plaid enjoying the perks of government while failing to do their job as an opposition party, something that has become so blatantly obvious in FMQs that the Presiding Officer has had to slap them down.

“The Welsh Conservatives are a fiercely Welsh party that do more to highlight poor public policy and propose solutions than any other, which is why Labour and Plaid cuddle up to attack us in an effort to hide their utter failures to, respectively, govern and scrutinise.

“While we stand for accountability and good governance, Labour and Plaid run scared of scrutiny because it is easier to force more politicians into Cardiff Bay, give the vote to prisoners, and ignore the rising cost-of-living when you make a deal to shut down opposition.”

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Team @ AberdareOnline

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