Our columnist The Commentator highlights the oddities of the law in Wales.
You can now buy a child ten bars of chocolate, but not a colouring book or even a book to read. You can buy an instant cup of coffee but not the cup to put it in. You can buy a birthday cake but not a birthday card!
Those who seek to buy an illicit candle to relax in the bath would do better buying a bottle of gin to collapse on the sofa.
The rationale this time is that it is protecting the independent small retailers. Yet most towns don’t have bookshops or shops selling kitchen appliances anymore. So, the measures won’t protect non-existent stores, they’ll just push more business online.
Of course, the Welsh Government (WG) say shops must use their discretion but in reality, the shops feel their discretion is what the WG tell them it should be.
The Welsh Government in turn seems to tremble with the power it now has, unaware or maybe even uncaring of the fact that their decisions can have massive and ill-considered consequences.
These decisions will have an impact on people’s lives for as long and as hard as the Covid-19 virus itself does.
I have noticed that in the past the Tories have often been labelled the nasty party and this is a label that is coming back in England, with Boris Johnson’s refusal to allow free school meals during holidays for school children.
Yet, in Wales I have noticed that Labour-elected members seem to be now just as harsh (nasty).
Stories abound of desperate single parents being forced to flee their home with little clothes or belongings and now being unable to buy any new ones at all. Their attitude to this has become hardened with responses such as: “everyone can make up hard luck stories like this to try and buy an ‘illegal’ frying pan or kettle”, and “surely people can wait two weeks for a microwave!” or “by ordering stuff from Amazon and not locally, the NHS is being protected”.
It seems now as if by Labour being hard and unyielding, THAT alone will defeat a virus which behaves in the same way. No kettle = no virus! Labour seem to have become the other side of the ‘nasty party’ coin, they can now share with the Tories.
When devolution came in just over two decades ago, no one ever thought that it would lead one day to the government here telling you who you could meet and when you could meet them, what you can buy, where you can travel, or close your business down both temporarily and permanently.
Now those WG measures are being enforced by a police forces in Wales that the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC) technically has no formal control over or responsibility for. The Welsh police forces are still the responsibility of the Home Office in London.
And many of these new Welsh criminal laws impact on the young disproportionally, with them being tightly regulated as to who they can see outside school or college, as well as having leisure pursuits curtailed or ended. In turn their educational life and even their careers are being impacted by the WG, to a degree not experienced by any other generation since the end of World War II.
In some countries the youth express their frustration through a violent revolution, but in Wales and the rest of the UK, we have a more democratic method called elections. These act as a release valve to let the people show their support or frustration of a government.
Next year, everyone over the age of 16 will have the chance to say who they feel is best placed to help them, and Wales, to recover from the Covid crisis. As for the criminal enforcement of the same laws bought about by the WG, however, one group most affected will still be excluded. 16-18 year olds will have no say.
Next May, they will be able to vote for the body that has created the Covid lockdown laws (the WP/SC) but not the Police and Crime Commissioners who help enforce these same laws. 16 -18 year olds will still be barred from voting in these elections in Wales.
This makes the Welsh nation unique in excluding a portion of its population from voting for criminal laws but not on the policing of them by virtue of their age.
It seems the youth of Wales can vote for Covid law but NOT for Covid order!
Soon – One rule for… part two – and we explore how a major broadcaster appears to have different rules to those elsewhere in the UK.
Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his extraordinary 37-year award-winning career in journalism (including exploring the bizarre anomalies thrown up by the law) as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in the major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!