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Tories call for scrutiny of Welsh Government’s record during general election campaign

Welsh Secretary David Davies launching the Welsh Conservatives general election campaign at Keeper's Lodge Farm, Llanishen, Monmouthshire (Pic: LDRS)

THE CONSERVATIVES want the Welsh Labour government’s record scrutinised during the on-going UK general election campaign, the Welsh secretary has said. 

David Davies is fighting to retain the Monmouthshire seat, he has represented in Parliament since 2005, and denied his party, that has been trailing Labour in the polls since 2022, isn’t confident on its own record during a “very difficult last five years”. 

The Welsh Conservatives launched their general election campaign at a farm and clay pigeon shoot in a remote part of rural Monmouthshire with Mr Davies and party’s leader in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies. 

They were joined by a handful of candidates, Senedd Members and councillors, and former Wales rugby international Alix Popham. 

The lowkey affair contrasted with Labour’s Welsh launch 24 hours earlier, in Abergavenny, where opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer and first minister Vaughan Gething were greeted by a packed hall of candidates, councillors and party faithful. 

Mr Starmer’s arrival, followed by the large press pack travelling the country with him, confirmed the redrawn Monmouthshire seat is in Labour’s crosshairs on July 4. 

Mr Davies told his supporters, gathered for a photoshoot under a large combine harvester, they were at a working farm “to draw attention” to the differences in agricultural policies in Labour run Wales to those in England. 

He and RT Davies repeated their regular criticism of Welsh NHS waiting times, educational standards and the “blanket” 20 mile per hour speed limit in built up areas. 

Asked, by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, if the Welsh Conservatives wanted to fight the election on the Welsh Labour government’s policies rather than the record of the UK government Mr Davies said he wanted to discuss both. 

He said: “I think it’s absolutely right that Welsh Labour are held to account for their policies in Wales and it’s interesting that Keir Starmer was talking about the health service yesterday. If he wants to talk about the health service I’m more than happy to have that conversation but I think, we of course want, to fight it on our own policies.” 

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He added: “We’ve demonstrated our ability to stabilise the economy, inflation is now just over two per cent, we’ve also come up with other policies that, I think, will massively strengthen our communities such as the idea of our young people volunteering for up to 25 days with different services and also the policy to deal with illegal immigration in this country.” 

During his brief speech Mr Davies said national service “isn’t about forcing people to join the armed forces at 18” but volunteering with the NHS, the RNLI lifeboat charity, the police or other uniformed services. 

Afterwards Mr Davies said for most it would be 25 days or “a couple of weekends over the course of a year” and defended the plan for 30,000 serving with the military. 

“They’d be volunteers, they’d have to want to do it and be highly motivated. It would be a 12 month contract different to what is offered at the moment where you have to sign up for a minimum of three years.” 

He accepted training a different intake could pose a challenge for the military but said: “I think we can overcome that. When I joined the TA, when I was 18, there was at that time a divide between TA soldiers and regular soldiers.  

“We used to be sarcastically called, the SASS – the Saturday and Sunday Soldiers – that kind of stuff has gone now. The reserves, as they now are, and the regulars are much better integrated. I’m sure that will be a challenge and something we will look at when the time comes.” 

Mr Davies also defended the principle of requiring teenage adults to volunteer and said: “This isn’t about old people telling young people what to do,” 

It has been proposed the scheme would be paid for with money currently used for the Shared Prosperity Fund, which was supposed to replace funds from the European Union, and which is usually spent by councils on regeneration projects. 

Mr Davies defended reallocating the money: “The money’s going to be used to really help and support young people, I think that’s a good use of money.”