BBC analysis of last week’s by-elections was probably about right; it was a contrasting set of results and all three parties had something to celebrate. Yes, Selby and Somerton and Frome were disappointing for the Conservatives. But our victory in Uxbridge clearly shows that a war on motorists is not a vote winner and sends out a stark warning to Labour. The Welsh Government needs to be very careful about pursuing its anti-roads agenda, which involves failing to tackle congestion around the Brynglas Tunnels by scrapping the M4 relief road project, outlining proposals to charge motorists for using the motorway near Newport, axing all major road building projects in Wales, pushing ahead with the introduction of a blanket 20mph speed limit in residential areas, and hosting a series of cosy meetings with Extinction Rebellion protestors who get to see ministers on a regular basis.
I had a good chat with Marianna Fisher on Friday afternoon, coordinator of Monmouthshire Sustainable Food Partnership, and it got me thinking about how we promote healthy eating. The Welsh Labour Government seems to have a view that we should be using a stick to beat people and penalise them for choosing quick and cheap lunch options such as meal deals. Personally, I think a carrot approach should be better education and thinking about whether, as a society, we do enough to teach people how to cook. I fully understand the importance of trying to tackle obesity and support public health. But it is fundamentally wrong for ministers in Cardiff Bay to dictate what we can or cannot eat. Perhaps a bit of time spent in school learning practical life skills to cook cheap, tasty and nutritious meals – or even adult cooking classes – would be a more effective way of encouraging people to eat healthily, rather than punishing them for having a packet of crisps or fizzy drink.
While the number of Welsh speakers has fallen in the past decade, I do feel the language is enjoying a revival based on how many people approach me to “siarad Cymraeg” when I am out and about. For those who are interested, I shall be taking part in the Welsh language version of Question Time - Pawb a’i Farn - from the Royal Welsh Showground on Thursday (27 July). You will be able to catch up afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 26 July 2023 and Abergavenny Chronicle on 27 July 2023*