THE First Minister of Wales has hit back at critics who have been challenging his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in Wales.
Speaking at a press briefing today the First Minister was asked if his critics including Neil McEvoy, Neil Hamilton, Adam Price and Rhun Ap Iorwerth were justified in their carping from the side-lines or is this baseless cheap political point scoring, scaremongering and fuel for conspiracy theorists.
Criticism included labelling the First minister as a ‘tin pot dictator’, ‘changing his mind like the weather’, ‘draconian’, ‘lacking logic’, ‘lacking leadership’ and ‘thin on detail’.
The First Minister responded: “Some of the names that you read out are from people for whom I have a lot of respect and I am always happy to engage in discussions and challenge and all the rest of it.
“There are others and there were names on your list who I think belong in a different part of the political spectrum who are not interested in genuine dialogue who try and convince people of things that are simply not the case.
“We are a democracy people are entitled to make whatever challenge they like to the government. My preference is always to engage with people where I think what they are trying to do is make a genuine contribution to getting best decisions made here in Wales. Where there are people who are genuine in that dialogue I am very keen to respond genuinely to them.
“Where I think there are people who are not interested in that sort of discussion but are simply there to try to scare people or frighten them into thinking they have a government who’s not on their side then I am afraid I won’t be spending a lot of my time engaging with them.”
We pointed out to the First Minister that some of the critics had raised some valid points like identifying the positives of models of dealing with the pandemic in other parts of the world.
Switzerland’s policies and approach have been successful. The model is based on individual responsibility rather than prohibition and controls.
We asked; how much of what is working in other parts of the world is being implemented here in Wales?
The First Minister said: “It is a complex area. We are very interested in what goes on in the rest of the World and we are very lucky with Public Health Wales.
“It’s always been an organisation with very strong international links through some very senior staff who work there. I know our Chief Medical Officer for example has had direct discussions with South Korea and other countries, which appeared to be very successful trying to make sure we learned the lessons here.
“The problem is though that over the course of this pandemic some countries that were thought of at some point to have had very successful replies to Coronavirus have then found themselves in trouble again so at various points I remember earlier on in the pandemic being told that we should be following South Korea, we should be following Israel. Both of those countries have faced significant difficulties subsequently.
“I have been regularly told on the floor of the Senedd by some members that we should have done what Sweden did and yet Sweden is having to take completely different measures today and yes, the Swiss example is a very interesting one and we should look to see what we can learn from them. Then you have to think about the very different cultures that different places have.
“I am responsible for Wales. I have to respond to the way in which people in Wales go about our daily business. The extent to which people in Wales will be prepared to go along with things that people in other parts of the world go along with drawing the lessons where we can but never thinking that you can just simply drag and drop, pick up what somebody else has done and make it happen here in Wales. It is just sadly a bit more complicated and difficult than that.”