MARK Drakeford, leader of the Senedd and infamous Covid-19 dictator, is back with a vengeance in his determination to make Wales the most miserable place in the UK. His imposition of a nationwide speed limit of 20mph, with the exception of a few dual carriageways and the M4, is an attack on ordinary people’s liberty and livelihood.
The Welsh have tended to back Labour, at least in the old coal-mining valleys, the docklands from Newport to Barry, and in poorer parts of the northern coast, areas where the majority of the population resides. But this latest law is hardly socialist, or intended to improve the lot of hard-working families. In a mostly rural country, people need cars to travel to work, to visit relatives and take the kids to school. Cars won’t get above third gear, causing pollution and clogging valves. Journey times will be lengthened, but for what purpose?
The real driver is Net Zero. However, too many people are waking up to the grand deception. Governments are starting to hit hard resistance to punitive taxes and restrictions on movement purportedly to save the planet. A small but growing minority do not believe that there is a climate crisis (or ‘global boiling’ as UN chief Antonio Gutteres declared); instead they see a tightening ratchet of control in pursuit of a global technocracy.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has provoked a popular revolt against his daily charge for drivers with older cars. Hundreds of ULEZ cameras have been vandalised by a group known as the Blade Runners, cheered on not only by Londoners but by citizens across the world. Khan sells his scheme as a necessity for tackling air pollution, but this wouldn’t wash in the windy Welsh wilderness. So Drakeford claims that the curb on motorists is to save lives, reducing road accidents and consequent demand on hospitals.
Drakeford exploited public reverence for the NHS in the Covid-19 drama and pushed vaccine passports further than anywhere else in the UK. Für ihre Sicherheit, as a past dictatorship proclaimed. He wants Welsh people to be fearful and to depend on the state for security. Like many Western leaders, Drakeford moved smoothly from coronavirus to climate as a rationale for deeper intrusion in daily lives.
Although it appeared that Drakeford, like Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, was cocking a snook at Westminster with his radically interventionist policy for Covid-19, the reality was that he was being used. The British establishment treated the Celtic fringes as a testing ground for pandemic mandates, knowing that the English were more likely to foil any step too far. The devolved administrations have taken advantage of the national sentiment and more socially cohesive Scots and Welsh to enforce ‘the greater good’.
The same is happening with Net Zero. Westminster is hiding behind Khan and Drakeford, letting these men take seriously unpopular decisions, while ministers make themselves appear relatively reasonable and pragmatic. It wasn’t Khan’s idea to expand ULEZ to the whole of Greater London – it was the Conservative government’s (as proved by a letter from transport secretary Grant Shapps).
Nonetheless, Drakeford is the person in power and he must take the blame for introducing this oppressive speed law a few days ago. Tories in Wales criticised the policy, Fay Jones MP writing on the social and economic impact in the London Evening Standard (a newspaper that cannot ignore the backlash against ULEZ). Tom Gifford asked in the Senedd on Tuesday whether Drakeford would reconsider, as a petition showed intense public opposition. ‘No’ was Drakeford’s monosyllable reply.
That petition, ‘We want the Welsh government to rescind and remove the disastrous 20mph law’, had reached an incredible 273,000 signatures at time of writing, and rising by the second [Update Friday 9am: 335,000]. But even if the Cardiff administration relents to public pressure and reverses the policy, the cost is huge. Millions of taxpayers’ money has been spent on changing the road signs and on publicising the new limit.
This is surely a case of malfeasance in public office.