Business leaders are 'alarmed by Tory 'war' on Wales' claims Owen.
BUSINESS leaders are concerned that a "war on Wales" led by Conservatives in the UK Government is harming the nation's reputation across Britain and around the world, according to Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith.
The Labour Pontypridd MP is writing to David Cameron to express his concerns about the impact of highprofile criticism of Welsh infrastructure and health services.
In recent weeks the Prime Minister has attacked the Welsh Labour Government's record on NHS waiting times and Education Secretary Michael Gove has blasted the performance of Welsh schools.
Mr Smith fears that a "wellspring of negativity" is damaging business confidence when the country should be preparing to make the most of September's Nato summit at the Celtic Manor resort. The gathering of international leaders against a backdrop of global security crises is expected to be the biggest event of its kind to take place in Wales.
The Shadow Welsh Secretary argues cabinet ministers are taking "every available opportunity to undermine Wales' reputation" and in his letter to the Prime Minister he expresses concern about the damage being done to Wales' "brand".
He said: "In recent meetings with Welsh business leaders I was worried to hear their stark warnings that the constant public undermining of Wales, from the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues, risks tarnishing our reputation across the UK and internationally. It is little wonder that the attacks on Wales co-ordinated by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Wales are starting to have an impact on business confidence.
"Over recent months it has become increasingly apparent that the Tories have given up on winning in Wales at the 2015 General Election or standing up for our interests. Instead they are content to subject Wales to a wellspring of negativity for narrow political ends.
"Just last week David Jones used a platform at [the] Policy Forum for Wales to yet again run-down Wales. He drew false comparisons between Welsh rail infrastructure and that of Albania, damned our broadband internet connectivity and bizarrely described the infrastructure network as obsolete. The Prime Minister's deeply offensive branding of Offa's Dyke as a 'line between life and death' shamefully demeans his office and he maintains this theme almost weekly at Prime Minister's Questions. Fifty-four percent of British people will have seen or heard PMQs in the last 12 months and it is beamed to the USA and across the world.
"Viewers will have heard the Prime Minister groundlessly attacking the Welsh NHS week after week, playing his part in the Tory strategy of doing our nation down.
"The reality is Wales provides an excellent base for world leading businesses, like GE, Airbus and Ford. The UK Government should be promoting that and telling the world the truth - Wales is excellent and improving place to live and do business.
"In the lead-up to the Nato summit in September Wales will be in the international spotlight. The Prime Minister and his chums need to up their game, put aside petty point scoring and get on with promoting Wales as a world-leading place to do business."
Mr Smith wants the Prime Minister to meet with him and other business people to discuss the effects of "constant public undermining of Wales".
Professor Brian Morgan, an expert on entrepreneurship at Cardiff Metropolitan University, said that although the criticism of the Welsh Government's record would not do "Wales PLC any good" people in business were concerned about standards.
He said: "The businessmen I speak to, they are worried about the problems in the health service, they are worried about education, they are also worried about the lack of investment in infrastructure." The business community was also concerned, he said, that Wales' political opposition were not able to get "some of these points across" in the Assembly and the media.
He said: "[The] best riposte I suppose is to sort out the problems and to convince people these problems have been sorted out."
Prof Morgan added: "The first two terms of the Welsh Government were littered with reforms, restructurings, which simply didn't work... In education, we got rid of SATs, we got rid of league tables. It turns out that they were the wrong reforms, they've affected quality. In health, we introduced 22 local authorities and, again, that was the wrong way...
"For two terms we did put a lot of misguided policy structures in place. It seems to me now that the Welsh Government is learning from those mistakes, we're moving on.
"[It] would be nice to admit those mistakes... We really must convince people things are changing for the better and that will only come about when people see the evidence."
Eurfyl ap Gwilym, a Plaid Cymrusupporting economist said it was "fairly cynical" of Labour to "turn attacks on the record of the Welsh Government into attacks on Wales".
He said: "The performance of the Welsh Government in some areas does need to be criticised, it needs to be scrutinised effectively as well; they need to respond and say what they are going to do to make things better, and I think that's perfectly legitimate."
Warning against being "too sensitive," he said: "If there's poor performance anywhere we should be ready to accept criticism."
He acknowledged it would not be "helpful" if the only headlines about Wales in the UK press are negative but said: "I'm sure Owen Smith will do his best now to exaggerate the impact of that criticism." A UK Government spokesman said: "It is only the UK Government's long-term economic plan that means that growth has returned to the Welsh economy.
"The Welsh Labour Government has proved itself to be incapable of providing the essential services for which it is responsible, and the UK Government has no qualms in pointing out these failures to the electorate."
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Owen Smith
Prime Minister David Cameron