The Covid period can roughly be divided in two in terms of the ways in which political parties have worked together. The point of divergence was the middle of May, characterised by the first indications that the ending of lockdown would not only be slower but different in Wales, with different easings promoted or prioritised. This also coincided with the Dominic Cummings episode and the trip to Barnard Castle. No other aspect has impacted more on public attitude to the lockdown restrictions.
As the last two months have played out, the Welsh Labour Government has made a virtue of caution even where they have not had the science to back it up. Such an approach has proven itself attractive in terms of opinion polling, though many have grown more restless and tired with the approach that has been taken. The Brexit Party has carved a role for itself as completely rejecting further lockdown, which is a position easy to understand but much harder to justify while people are still being infected and dying.
A particular challenge has faced Plaid Cymru in this time. They have tended to focus more on issues related to supply of PPE and the management of Covid in settings like care homes. This is much easier ground for them in terms of scoring hits against the Welsh Government rather than against devolution per se. After all, distinct policy differences between Wales and England over Covid has been the clearest exemplification yet of what a separate Wales actually might look like. Attack those policies too hard and you attack Welsh devolution divergence.
The challenge to the Conservatives has been around finding a balance too. In some ways they are locked in to an agenda set by their party in England, but painting them as just saying the same things is lazy commentary. Arguably their biggest hit has been pressure on the five mile rule – pressure the Welsh Government seemed to especially resent since it often changed its line on the rule, or rule of thumb as it became.
We are now in a phase where economic shocks look as deadly as Covid ones, and it is interesting how the Conservatives are deploying their focus on economy over health. The Summer Statement will have increased the pressure by incentivising use of hospitality and tourism businesses. The economic choices Welsh Labour now makes are as critical as any it made over managing the health impact of the first peak of Covid-19.