Few issues have set Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson apart from Mark Drakeford over the past 18 months.

Rather, more often than not it has been the First Ministers of Wales and Scotland that have cornered the Prime Minister in Downing Street, particularly when it comes to questions of political sovereignty.

It’s the reason why recent developments are so interesting.

After all, the tables have turned. It is Drakeford, who basks in the image of being a moderate honest broker on the Union, who is now stubbornly alone in refusing to accept a Welsh-specific investigation into his government’s handling of Covid.

Johnson and Sturgeon have announced plans for public inquiries; the First Minister of Wales, meanwhile, sits on his hands for a UK-wide probe to come about next year and inevitably trickle over what has happened in this corner of Britain.

Pressure is mounting, however. Especially after Nicola Sturgeon announced a Scottish-specific, independent, judge-led inquiry, this week.

The news came several months after the Prime Minister’s own commitment for a UK-wide inquiry, although we will see no progress on that until spring 2022. Scotland’s inquiry will start as soon as possible this year.

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Once again, the Scottish First Minister has shown her great political instincts.

Not only has she dutifully fulfilled a manifesto pledge, but at the same time she appears to have cleverly outmanoeuvred critics of the SNP, who goad the party for criticising Tory politicians while hiding from failings in their own patch. Sound familiar?

Most significantly, for us in Wales at least, the Scots’ inquiry deviates from the Welsh Government’s insistence for a joined-up approach of scrutinising decisions across the four governments.

And there is some logic with the First Minister’s argument for seeing things that way: decisions across the border have impacted Wales and vice-versa, for instance, particularly during the early months of the pandemic.

Politically, grouping all four nations together would show the achievements and flaws of every government in context too.

And there has been – believe it or not – cooperation and coordination between ministers and civil servants in Cardiff Bay and Whitehall, often behind the scenes, from the ever-intensifying constitutional jostling.

In fact, a four-nation approach is just what the First Minister has unconvincingly championed throughout the pandemic, as Wales has charted its own course on public health policy.

Opposition is mounting to the First Minister’s refusal to give way on a Covid enquiry.

Lobbyists range from politicians in Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives, who have landed the most effective political attacks on an often untouchable First Minister since May’s election, as well as charities including Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation Wales.

A devastating call came from Covid Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru, a group of people who have lost family members to the pandemic in Wales.

“As the families left behind we feel that we deserve the same level of scrutiny”, they said after the Scottish public inquiry was announced. Who would dare to disagree?

There is plenty for Mark Drakeford to be worried about, of course. Dozens of crucial questions need to be asked, across the first and second waves of the virus.

What on earth was that farce around the Wales versus Scotland game? Where was the correct PPE for NHS workers in the first crucial weeks? Why was the firebreak in the autumn so short?

How did Covid become so out of control up to Christmas? I could go on – Wales’ desperate saga across care homes, easing restrictions like a flash, the state of the Welsh NHS pre-Covid – and so a Welsh public inquiry should, where a UK-wide investigation might not.

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It has been pointed out, rather obviously, that the pandemic has seen the greatest exercise of Welsh Government powers since the advent of devolution.

Health – and other key responsibilities – are devolved. The First Minister likes to keep reminding us of such facts. Now is time for him and his government to be held accountable for such decisions, if he would like to elevate Welsh politicians to the same level as those in Westminster and Holyrood.

It is no good to pick and choose when you face scrutiny. In fact, the First Minister has form in this regard too – so often choosing to bypass the Senedd on key policy announcements during the pandemic and going straight to the media.

At times of national emergency, this is warranted, but a pattern is emerging: one that shows a First Minister too happy and comfortable to dictate the political rules as he sees them. Devolution is done on the First Minister’s terms, Simon Hart said to me recently, and in this respect he wouldn’t be wrong.

Those who have lost loved ones will be most hard done by with the absence of a Welsh-specific inquiry, that is certain. But more widely it unsettles the political ground in Wales, and is not the accountability that we were promised with devolution.

Decisions were to be brought closer to home, we have been told and told, and that has been true. But nobody mentioned that we wouldn’t have the public scrutiny you’d expect to come along with decisions that would, quite bluntly, be a matter of life and death.

The First Minister’s reluctance therefore plays into the hands of those who see a Cardiff Bay clique governing Wales – critics that think it is the Welsh Labour way or the highway (and those aren’t even being built anymore).

There is a complacency at the heart of all this; Wales’ natural governing party is so clinical when it comes to politicking, but does so at the expense of honouring the devolution settlement it did more than any other party to build.

Consideration of the Scottish proposal is ongoing in the corridors of power in Cardiff, apparently.

Assurances are also being sought that the four-nation inquiry will deal “comprehensively with the actions of the Welsh Government and the experiences of the people of Wales”.

But even the First Minister must know, deep down, that a UK inquiry is destined to leave Wales as a footnote.

And doing so at a critical juncture in British history, after the most consequential event of the century, is no good thing for understanding where we have succeeded and, alas, failed.

A Welsh-focused inquiry would help us learn in-depth lessons from the pandemic for what is a relatively new and unchallenged democracy.

Proper scrutiny is needed of the Welsh Government’s autonomous decision-making – power that the First Minister so often defends – in order to maintain trust in the devolution settlement and, if he is astute enough to recognise it, the Welsh Labour party.

Wales waits for your announcement, First Minister.

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