25 May 2021 | OPINION

The dust has settled after the local elections in England, however over the border in Cymru it’s just been kicked back up again.

Corbynite First Minister Mark Drakeford has just announced he is going to trial something with the Welsh people that he wasn’t elected for: a Universal Basic Income (UBI). In a news announcement that comes at a time when most people are focused on ‘surge testing’ in England because of the Indian variant of COVID, Drakeford is subjecting his electorate and his country to a financial exercise never before seen in the UK.

UBI is seen by the left as a way to lift people out of poverty and give everyone an equal chance, but this is completely unrealistic! It is a concept that has been proven to fail in other economies, and whilst it may help people feel better about themselves, it does not reduce unemployment or poverty to 0%.

There is a stark irony when an elected First Minister is talking about treating everyone the same. For example, we don’t have Universal Voting Outcomes, or else there would be a Conservative First Minister in the Welsh Senedd.

There is more than just the political take on it – socially, it is a very risky move when coming out of a pandemic to make people who have suffered extreme trauma, both personally and emotionally, to be treated the same. The Welsh Conservatives have rightly slammed the plans and told Drakeford to focus on building an economy that provides “long-term, well-paid jobs for people” and not to use “Wales as a petri dish for failed left-wing policies”.

Most politicians try to enact what is in their latest manifesto, because this was what people supposedly wanted to see. To take a policy that was in the last national Labour Manifesto in 2019, which took the Party to its worst defeat in 75 years, is pretty brave of Drakeford and puts him at odds with his counterparts in other parts of Britain.

The country rejected Labour, and now the people of Wales need to do the same with this policy.

Whilst the country continues to be in crisis, the last thing it needs is to conduct an experiment that could go so very badly wrong. If Sir Keir Starmer wants to change his fortunes as leader of the Labour Party, then he needs to look carefully at the last remaining Corbynite leader in Labour’s ranks – regardless of his recent electoral success in Wales.

Hugo Sugg is a political commentator and aspiring MP. His interests include homelessness, democracy and influencing policy. He is also the CEO of a charity responding to homelessness.


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