THE PARTY is over.
Election season has passed.
All that remains is for embittered whingers to wind in their necks, and the world will be a better and brighter place.
In Pembrokeshire, we might well wonder what effect the result will have on the future of Withybush Hospital. We can, however, rest assured about it.
Labour’s victory will mean services in Haverfordwest will be further eroded.
Local access to the NHS reduced to the occasional Skype call with a doctor sitting in a side room with a computer and peering at someone else’s notes. At the same time, the ever-reliable broadband signal in rural Wales doing its worst.
“Good news, Mrs Brown. The last course of treatment seems to have worked. I can see your left hand grew back, too. Oh sorry, Mr Morgan. How are the haemorrhoids? No? Sorry. Wrong Mr Morgan. Not to worry. Are you the Mr Morgan with fatal tumour we haven’t told you about yet?”
Paul Davies promised to halt Withybush’s death by a thousand cuts if there was a Conservative government.
While Badger’s sure thousands across Pembrokeshire rejoice there isn’t a Conservative government, they can cackle with equal glee when the Welsh Government’s finished gutting Withybush.
But don’t worry, we’ll have a new super-duper hospital very soon.
Or maybe not.
Once the row about where it’s going to be built has died down.
(Carmarthen it is, you wait).
And the row about its funding.
And the other row about the delay.
(A far-reaching and comprehensive consultation will be necessary and necessarily ignored).
And the row about the removal of services from Withybush while it’s being built.
(Staff shortages. Dearie me, what are we to do?)
If you think that’s unfair, lobby your two Labour regional Senedd members. You can guarantee they’ll stand up to be counted.
Rather like Joyce Watson’s fellow Labour MS Alun Davies, Badger increasingly believes regional members are a complete waste of time and money for all they bring to the table.
Labour’s most successful ever second-place in Pembrokeshire (they once held both seats) means little more for our County than more cuts to our health service.
Don’t take Badger’s word for it.
Last year, Mark Drakeford gave an interview to this paper and The Western Telegraph.
Here’s what he had to say in May 2020, near the pandemic’s height.
“You could argue the current crisis has helped make the case for centralisation of resources.”
Whether that’s what all of Labour’s 20,000+ voters in Pembrokeshire wanted, that’s what they’ll get.
In twenty seats in South Wales, Labour could’ve selected the exhumed corpse of Jimmy Savile to be their candidate and would’ve won.
There’s no escaping that voter turnout was lowest in safe Labour seats. Never mind other parties not turning out their voters, across swathes of South Wales, Labour’s couldn’t be arsed either.
You can’t buy that sort of enthusiasm for democracy.
If you value it, vote for it.
If not, we’ll take apathy any time.
Plaid Cymru’s vote bounced up in Pembrokeshire (by 20% in the south of the County and 50% in its north).
However, Plaid stood still nationally. You get the sense that’s about as near as they can get, bar two seats in either direction.
Adam Price never had a hope in Hell in a month of Sundays’ of becoming First Minister. Gallant efforts to rewrite political history and reality won’t erase that fact.
Plaid is only marginally more likely to be the largest party in the Senedd than Badger is to walk on moonbeams.
Leanne Wood’s failure in the Rhondda, ironically given her republicanism, is Plaid’s ‘Princess Di’ moment.
She needn’t worry.
Ms Wood’s fan club runs Plaid’s machinery. They’ll angle for a rapid return for the queen of all our hearts. And sod the damage done to constituency organisations in Llanelli, Blaenau Gwent, and Cardiff West.
Ms Wood and her supporters managed to make each of them safe for Labour once again.
The Conservatives won both Pembrokeshire seats with reduced majorities.
Labour believe they can build on their results. The local party better hope the next few years are bloody stellar for that to be the case.
The Conservatives got their best-ever result as far as returned Senedd members go. Yet, the campaign misfired. In a world in which presentation matters so much, the Conservatives had Andrew RT Davies.
Whatever his personal qualities as a doorstep campaigner or his popularity among the faithful, Mr Davies comes across poorly on broadcast media. He gives the impression that, no matter how carefully he’s prepared, there’s an off-script eruption coming at any moment.
For Badger, the low point of a campaign short of high points was listening to RT Davies and Vaughan Gething bickering like drunks in the park on Radio Four’s Any Questions.
A party leader should do better.
When it comes to it, so should a Health Minister.
The responses on social media to the Conservatives’ improved performance tell you all you need to know about why Labour and Plaid fail to convince Tory voters they’re wrong and rely on bullying to deter them.
It’s a sweet and touching feeling of smuggery they must have when they berate other voters for being stupid.
But as persuasive political arguments go?
A little lacking.
There was enough in the Conservative proposals to focus on if you wanted to make a decent fist of persuasion instead of hectoring, bluster, and insult.
The Conservatives’ policy platform was an economic fantasy matched only in its fiscal illiteracy by Plaid’s allegedly fully costed programme of castles in the air. Both parties depended on money neither of them had to materialise from sources they couldn’t count on.
To that extent, Labour’s pledge of doing nothing with less had the benefit of credibility.
Here are Badger’s predictions for the next five years.
Lots of announcements of plans, ambitions, and aspirations.
Announcements of old money as new money for old projects dressed up as new ones.
A short interlude when a selection of empty suits vies to replace the First Minister.
More announcements about announcements.
Another election and suddenly money appears from nowhere for marginal seats.
Drakeford of Nazareth will not be the face of Labour at the next election. It’ll be someone old repackaged as someone new.
All Labour will have to do in 2026 is do what it did in 2021.
Delete the Manifesto for the campaign five years before from its website and hope for an extinction-level event.
Badger and the Return to Normal Service
THE PARTY is over.