It’s not been three months since Wales held its sixth Senedd election, yet if you listened to Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay it marked a seismic mandate for constitutional change, not a vote for the Covid incumbents.
Undoubtedly, the pandemic provided leaders of devolved governments across the UK with a larger platform than ever before, and this worked in their favour in May as those who’d been on point throughout the crisis were given the benefit of the doubt at the ballot box.
However, like his troublingly close friend Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, decided his victory meant more than he had promised. So I was not surprised when the Welsh Labour administration – only seven weeks on from the election – published their proposals to overhaul the UK in its Reforming The Union document.
Before a legislative programme, a plan to deal with chronic NHS waiting lists, an attempt to help kids claw back lost months of education, or a strategy to rebuild the economy, navel-gazing about their own powers were foremost on Labour’s mind.
This is what’s in store for us in the Senedd over the next five years: listening to Labour ministers regurgitate historically ignorant, politically extreme ideas and a demonstrably poor understanding of sovereignty in Britain as they call for a federalist system that will only serve to worsen, not solve, the issues present in Wales.
The First Minister is keen to say Boris Johnson a risk to Union because of his ‘power grabs’. Yet he rarely offers any evidence to support these claims that powers are being taken away, while claiming this puts the Union at peril.
When I asked the First Minister to cite what powers had been taken away from Cardiff Bay, he pointed to the power of the Senedd to design a compensation scheme for fishers.
I would argue that the powers of Cardiff Bay have been far more enhanced by Brexit than they have been diminished by their lack of ability to design a compensation scheme for fishers.
Sadly, this gets undue prominent attention in the Welsh media. They hang on every word Labour ministers say about the Union.
Who needs nationalist opponents like Plaid Cymru when you have so-called Unionist friends like Welsh Labour?
But we shouldn’t be surprised that the media here are in hoc to the nationalist agenda that amplifies the so-called inevitable end of the Union: not only do many of them harbour the same opinions, but they rely on that agenda for their own existence.
Without the constant reporting by BBC Wales and taxpayer-funded nationalist ‘news’ sites about Wales being so ‘different’, it would leave them rudderless and without purpose.
They exist to promote differences that validate their existence, thus trying to legitimise the non-existent calls for a bigger state in Wales.
You just need to look at two of the ‘biggest’ stories of recent weeks here. The first is the building of a new UK Government office in Cardiff and opposition to the 100ft Union Flag due to adorn it.
The second is, in response to a protest outside his personal home – something I condemned – the call by a handful of people for an official residence for the First Minister.
So, why do Welsh Labour and Mark Drakeford, who claims to be a Unionist, seem determined to create and execute a self-fulfilling prophecy about the demise of Britain?
Why does the media want to push a narrative that Wales needs more institutions? Why is federalism high on the agenda even though it was barely discussed during the election?
State-building. Wherever they are found in our society, nationalists are trying to break the bonds of fellowship between us and our cousins across the UK.
They want to make British institutions less relevant in our lives. They are using the devolved government and legislature to leverage more and more powers.
The end of result of this being that we no longer feel an attachment to our country. And that’s what Britain is – like Wales, my country.
Then, they can build their fiefdoms in their image: federalism for soft nationalists in Labour, independence for the hard ones in Plaid Cymru.
But what will these powers actually deliver for the people of Wales? As a Conservative I want to empower individuals, devolving power down to local communities.
And the nationalists? They hoard powers in the centre, whether that be in Cardiff Bay or Holyrood, in a way the Conservative Government in Westminster has been keen to avoid through the creation of regional mayoralties.
The Cardiff Bay consensus that has built on the political left in Wales is that devolution is a silver bullet to better outcomes, with seemingly no end point.
This is despite wages, the education system, the NHS and the economy of Wales falling further behind the other British nations during the devolution era. More powers does not mean better results – only a change of management can bring that.
Ultimately, we cannot give in to these politicians, obsessed with empowering themselves. The future of our union depends on it.