As the great Max Boyce once bellowed to an adoring crowd at Treorchy: let’s have a bit of reaction boys, mae fe fel angladd 'ma!

A muted response to the cry of Wales defeating England warranted such a quip but so it seems does this Senedd campaign. Politicians have thus far failed to capture the imagination of the electorate, hindered in their efforts to woo voters by the pandemic, so it is likely that any hopes of breaking the rut of turnout in Welsh elections will have to wait five more years. Again.

There is no better example of our leaders’ hopeless politicking than a BBC Wales news bulletin this week. A feature about horses in Bridgend being taken into care was one of its main stories; a broadcast which barely skimmed the surface of the election just a week shy of polling day.

Well, at least it was a good news story for the horses! And what were the poor buggers in Central Square supposed to report on, anyway? I suppose Thursday night’s election debate was at least somewhat newsworthy but only because the bloke from Abolish seemed to malfunction repeatedly across every policy area.

As Max says, we need a bit of reaction boys! Step forward, Boris Johnson. It may be that dramatic revelations around the prime minister’s flat refurbishment pumps some much-needed life into the so far no-punches-pulled fight for the Senedd.

Nothing to see ‘ere guvnor, Johnson says, but an unprecedented investigation from the Electoral Commission will decide that. Whether he admits it or not, the prime minister appears more vulnerable than he ever has been.

For allegations of sleaze to be so reputationally damaging is intriguing itself, considering that any previous charge of moral corruption or personal disaster levelled at Johnson has usually dissipated away with a clever turn of phrase, musings in The Telegraph, or silence.

‘Minor’ scandals such as Covid contracts for mates of Cabinet ministers, heartless (alleged) comments about bodies piling high, and Dominic Cummings’s spiteful attack have also left the PM riding high in the UK polls.

READ MORE: How tight is the race in the Vale of Glamorgan?

Do people really care about sleaze? A survey published yesterday by The Times, carried out by YouGov earlier in the week, suggests not. It found the Conservatives eleven points ahead of Labour before local and devolved elections. That’s in spite of half of the respondents saying that the Tories were “very sleazy and disreputable”.

Saying that, I suspect that the political reverberations of this week’s saga have yet to run their course in the John-Lewis-furniture-nightmare-turned-Lulu Lytle-palace above Number 11.

With every question sidestepped on curtains and wallpaper the story of Tory sleaze snowballs ever so conveniently ahead of May 6. Plenty still love ‘Boris’ the entertainer, of course, and will back him as the wider Covid situation gets better and better.

The void of integrity at the heart of government clearly concerns Middle England very little in particular: BoJo is their man, a politician of the people that speaks his mind. Who cares about ethical propriety?

Now remind yourselves of the distinctiveness of Wales. For Wales see England, no more. That Encyclopedia Britannica entry from 1888 is so, well, 1888. Our preferred leaders are not entertainers but professors or chapel-like preachers. YouGov’s separate polling in Wales at the end of last month shows that Mark Drakeford and Adam Price are the most popular politicians here, ahead of both Johnson and Andrew RT Davies.

We seem to prefer leaders who are measured, professorial in approach and at least have a bit of integrity. People that don’t rock the boat but explain why it has started to sink and how best to get it sailing again.

This is crucial over the coming days. Any final stretch in a campaign is, above all else, a popularity contest. (Nobody is really reading those manifestos). Tory sleaze comes at an inconvenient time for Welsh Tories, more than the UK wide polls might tell you.

With Savanta ComRes finding that the first minister’s party look set to comfortably win the most seats on May 7, the momentum is with the authoritative leadership of the first minister as the sympathetic radical at the top of Plaid Cymru clutches on to his coattails.

Welsh Conservatives will be wondering where it all went wrong – at least they’ll have another five years in opposition to work it out. They will be disappointed that they are in third place just days ahead of polling day.

And now they cannot even pull out their ‘Boris’ trump card, more recognisable with the Conservative brand than auctioneer Andrew RT Davies could ever be. Coupled with cheeky hospital fibs in their manifesto, the perception of sleaze and backroom deals that plagues their star player might attract voters to the warm, steady, and principled leadership that is on offer elsewhere.

For any sceptics that see no electoral value of integrity just look at how confidence in John Major’s government collapsed in the 90s. Blair was billed as a leader for ‘new politics’; Tories were wiped out in 1997, completely in Wales.

Drakeford offers no fresh leadership but at least he offers a safe pair of hands, and should Plaid Cymru members get their wish and One Wales 2.0 becomes a reality, a conviction politician in Adam Price is a far cry from the vacuum of principle and morals at the heart of Downing Street.

READ MORE: Tories admit 'new' hospitals won't be built in Mid Wales

This once unpredictable Welsh election now seems to be certain of delivering a Labour victory. That was clear before this week’s Tory fiasco, sure, but crucial constituencies still hang in the balance. And sleaze is no election winner on social media or on the Covid campaign trail. That Wall both in North and South Wales looks redder by the day, especially as more people see Drakeford and Johnson set against one another.

Who says that Welsh Labour couldn’t go all the way and reach the magic majority that has eluded them throughout devolution? I am no betting man but if this week has taught us anything, it’s that there are moments that can turn an election on its head. To paraphrase another Conservative prime minister: events, dear boy, events.

Those events mean that as this campaign reaches its crescendo a spring is in the step of Mark Drakeford and Adam Price; they are better liked, respected, and trusted with the future of Wales than the prime minister.

After May 7, that may mean a partnership forms; an alliance in Wales so very different to the politics across the border, which resonates very little with the people of our nation. Then, in the most challenging of times, it will be Drakeford and Price that take their curtain call in front of the Welsh people.

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