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Monday, July 15, 2024
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HomeEditor's PickThe view from the stump – our man in Swansea West

The view from the stump – our man in Swansea West

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I HAVE spent the last month campaigning to be elected as MP for Swansea West, representing the Reform UK Party. This has given me a ringside seat as well as a performing role in the front line of UK politics. That we will wake up to a Labour government and an eviscerated Tory Party on Friday is a racing certainty. It means that this may be the last piece I write for a while in the free, liberal country I love rather than in a Marxist tyranny that I already despise.

First some context. Swansea West is a divided constituency – the have-nots on the hill (and beyond) and the haves closer to the beach, station and university. It’s also very strange – poor neighbourhoods have views that would command premium prices were the neighbourhood better. Swansea got bombed a fair bit in the war – the docks and related industry were then strategic. That said, most of the architecture is alluring and robust, although there are some true horrors. The condition of buildings varies: an immaculate terraced villa can be two doors down from a dog-turd-infested hellhole reeking of pot. The healthy areas voted 55 per cent to remain in the EU, the poor ones over 65 per cent to leave.

That’s hardly surprising – there are too many people in Swansea for whom the system isn’t working. Wales has suffered from 30 years of incompetent devolved Labour government and an ineffective Labour council. Uncollected rubbish is rife and healthcare is the worst in the UK, despite Wales having more Westminster money per head than any other part of the UK. How is this possible? In general, a rotten government largely consisting of small fish in a tiny pond – Drakeford then Gething floated to the top of a fetid cesspit. But there’s another reason: climate change. The chart below shows the current budget for the Senedd.

https://www.gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2023-12/draft-budget-2024-2025-leaflet.pdf

They’re spending almost five times more on climate change than education or healthcare. If the climate-change spending were spent on healthcare there’s enough for six new district hospitals (at some £750million each, the current cost of the new Carmarthenshire hospital).

In February 2024  Channel Four revealed that in 2023 18,000 Welsh patients a month waited more than eight hours in A&E. That’s appalling. Worse, in April a report by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine showed that an eight-hour wait causes one extra death per 72 patients. Do the maths and it comes out that 3,000 Welsh patients are dying in A&E due to long waits. Rather than addressing this, the Labour Senedd would rather splurge the funds allocated to it on the altar of climate change.

This is the world of Labour; abstract targets are more important than citizens lives. This is Starmergeddon.

Here in Wales there is a faint hope. For many Welshmen and women, voting Tory is anathema, courtesy of the 1980s. As the Senedd has wiped out Welsh enthusiasm for Labour they have tended not to vote. One political activist told me not to bother campaigning: ‘They never vote, so what’s the point?’ I ignored him and have spent my  time leafleting and talking to people. They are excited to have an option to vote against the clowns in Cardiff and they intend to use it. It’s the Nigel Farage factor; as one person told me, ‘He’s saying what I’m thinking.’

That’s how politics dies – the professional politicians pass laws that don’t benefit the poor and ignore them when they don’t vote. My opponent, the think-tanker turned wannabe pro-politician Torsten Henricson-Bell (he dropped his double-barrelled name to be more of the people) has had a photo taken with his Labour Party minders there. My partner and I have spent days walking the streets. I started with a team of four; now I’ve almost 20 delivering leaflets, putting up signs and drumming up support.

Here in Swansea West we can strike a blow against the apparatchiks. If the Tories switched their allegiance to Reform (no one has seen the Tory candidate, an Oxford-educated minor charity manager), Torsten is in big trouble. So is the Senedd. For 30 years ambitious Labour politicians haven’t challenged the Senedd from Westminster, even though Westminster is the source of 82 per cent of its funding. Lacking any desire to live in Downing Street (unlike Torsten) I’ll be questioning them, challenging their priorities  and showing up their inadequacies. A side effect may be that the press eventually notice that Starmer’s plans are likely to be fatal.

Can I win? Yes – although it may be in the hands of the 6,000 or so remaining Tory voters in Swansea West. There’s irony for you.

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Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswellhttps://www.conservativewoman.co.uk
Patrick Benham-Crosswell is a former Army officer who has spent the last 30 years in commerce. He is the author of Net Zero: The Challenges, Costs and Consequences of the UK's Zero Emission Ambition. He has a substack here. He is the Reform Parliamentary Candidate for Swansea West.

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