There are times when we need to go further than the television soundbite or the 280 character tweet. Only in long-form can we give issues of such magnitude as those we face today the forensic level of examination they demand.
This new blog will be a platform to write about the current Covid-19 pandemic, examine the policy response, and share ideas and useful insights.
A few key points about the blog. It will be about policy and practice, not politics and party. This is not a place for point-scoring. Where Government is getting it wrong, either at Westminster or in Wales, I’ll say so - say what needs to change and point to evidence or expert knowledge to clarify why. It will be practical and positive wherever possible, but constructively critical where necessary. The focus has to be on saving lives – and helping deal with the other social and economic impacts of the crisis.
In that sense, the blog will mirror the wider approach I’ve taken to COVID-19. This week I joined the Welsh Government’s COVID Working Group, where I along with other senior figures inside the Welsh Government and local government are briefed on the response to the disease. My party has said it would give serious consideration to any request to join a Government of national unity were one to be made – but this forum isn’t that. It is explicitly not a decision-making body and the briefings which I will be privy to will be confidential.
It does give me an opportunity to find out what is happening at the national level, to share concerns directly with Government, and discuss ideas about things we could be doing differently. As such I have agreed to join it as long as it does not inhibit me in speaking out publicly, when I need to do so. My primary role remains to scrutinise the Government and publicly holding them to account where necessary. Effective scrutiny is still the best guarantee of better policy – which in the current climate saves lives.
To that end, I will be publishing my correspondence with Welsh Government Ministers here and at the end of this blog you can read my letter to the Health Minister urging him to utilise Wales’s existing laboratory facilities in universities to increase testing capacity. I will also share here any relevant information we get back from written questions we ask at the Senedd and Westminster.
Transparency is also critical to maintaining public trust at this time. I will be asking questions weekly at the Virtual Senedd which I may talk about here. I’ll get other members of the team to write guest blogs on different aspects of how Wales is responding to the crisis. I will aim to share some uplifting stories alongside those areas where we need to do better.
If we work together, fast then Wales can lead in our response to this crisis. That’s the spirit in which I’ll approach what is the biggest challenge of our lives.