Losing the Dressing Room

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A POPULAR footballing term is probably the best way to describe the Welsh public’s response to its own government right now.

The term speaks of a loss of trust, faith and confidence in the management, and which more often than not leads to the eventual removal of that management.

After having a good run of late keeping the supporters on board in general, Wales Manager Mark Drakeford is now facing that dreaded dressing room mutiny.

His 17 day further lockdown policy was bad enough in itself for people’s health, social cohesion and the already crippled Welsh economy.

But, it’s been compounded by his government’s bizarre ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ list of goods people can now buy or not buy in supermarkets.

Essentially deciding people’s purchases on their behalf.

By today (October 26), nearly 60,000 people have signed a petition demanding that the Welsh Government reverse this policy.

Even allowing for the fact that people from outside Wales have signed it, it’s still a potent sign of dissatisfaction and potential public resistance.

It might well be a sad reflection on our times that the inability to buy a few goods in a supermarket is the development that has angered the public most.

Bearing in mind all the indignities, isolation and deprivation the public have had to endure here over the last few months over a virus which has a mortality rate of 0.014% (latest ONS figures) .

But it appears that this over-reach on behalf of Welsh Labour is the final straw for many people.

‘These guys have told us continuously for the last 7 months,’ ‘trust us’. But I’m afraid that trust in their decision making has now gone down the toilet’ said Gwlad leader, Gwyn Wigley Evans.

‘The good thing is that the public are now stepping up, and asking the big questions about all this our politicians should be asking in Y Senedd. They are way ahead of the curve on all this.’.

He added that it was typical of Welsh Labour to fall back on their favourite old chestnut ‘Protect the NHS’ to justify their approach and avoid any real scrutiny.

‘But, it won’t work this time, when people have so many questions about the mental health crisis, the cancelling of health treatments, the crushing of small businesses and this latest over-reach we have seen from them.’

‘People are rightly asking as well why couldn’t Welsh Labour have spent these past few months thinking of cleverer ways to deal with any re-emergence of the virus, rather than shutting us down completely again? ‘.

There seems to be a worrying polarization emerging in Wales right now

On the one hand there are those who believe that this is all about the existential right of ‘Team Wales’ to exist and that the manager has to be supported whatever he does.

On the other side of the spectrum, many are using the response to the crisis to argue that Wales shouldn’t have the right to plot its own course at all.

With those who believe in Welsh self-determination, but who yet cannot support the present direction followed by the government, caught between a rock and a hard place.

One possible answer is for the Welsh Government to acknowledge this problem of lack of public trust and resultant public divisiveness and address it head on.

Perhaps one way to restore trust for the next period of time would be to set up a special panel made up of experts in epidemiology, crisis management and mental health to plot a way forward for Wales as a nation over the next months.

Balancing the question of how to deal with the virus, with managing the nationwide crisis in new ways and supporting people’s mental health as well.

With direct accountability to the public also built in to what would be a time-limited process.

Mark Drakeford could then present the panel’s recommendations to the Welsh public in his role as First Minister.

It would be a bold step to take but it could be the way to restore that all important public trust.

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