At the start of 2023, with the Welsh NHS close to being overwhelmed, if someone had told you that the issue that would really get people angry this year was that they were going to have to drive a bit slower you wouldn't probably have believed it. But as we come to the end of the year the once-riding-high Mark Drakeford has seen his popularity plummet ahead of him stepping down while the leader of the opposition is being investigated by the standards commissioner for making incorrect statements about asylum seekers.

It can be hard to keep track over what happened over the course of a year so we have decided to rate how Wales's three largest political parties performed over the last 12 months. This is the verdict.

READ MORE:'We treat kids like crap in this country and it has to stop'

READ MORE: How to sign up to a brand new newsletter that help you understand Wales better

Welsh Labour - missteps, miscalculations, and taking their eye off the ball

The year began badly for the Welsh Labour. The big story at the start of January was the performance of the Welsh NHS. Eluned Morgan came out to try and defend their record but it is hard to defend the indefensible.

Whereas England had all but eliminated waits in excess of two years Wales still had lists in the tens of thousands. A WalesOnlne investigation also showed that some the reduction in lists had been from people dying while waiting for procedures. Roll forward to December and the latest figures show that the 41,000 waiting two years in January is down to 26,400. There are still 133,000 people waiting more than a year for a procedure down from 147,000 in January.

Nowhere are the issues in the NHS more apparent than in Betsi Cadwaldr University Health Board. In May it was revealed that members of the finance team had deliberately mispresented accounts. The report was utterly damning and was just the latest in a decade of scandals to hit the health board. First Minister Mr Drakeford and former health minister Vaughan Gething, now one of the men in a showdown to replace Mr Drakeford in the top job, both faced criticism for statements they gave about the health board with Mr Drakeford in particular being accused of misleading the Welsh Parliament.

In other areas there were also challenges. The latest Pisa results suggested that Welsh schools had fallen a year behind once again while there were public sector strikes to contend with and the Welsh Government continued to refuse to hold a specific Welsh inquiry into how they handled coronavirus. At the UK-wide inquiry Mr Gething, now economy minister, suffered an awkward interrogation where he admitted he had never read key documents into Wales' pandemic preparedness.

The Welsh Government also raised the ire of farming communities by demanding that 10% of land be given up to tree growth and cutting the budget to the sector. But amazingly it was the 20mph limit introduction that really captured the imagination of the public. While backed up by strong evidence and having been in the Welsh Labour manifesto for the 2021 Senedd election the messaging around it was poor, which Mr Drakeford himself has admitted, allowing opponents to seize the initiative. Beyond the Welsh Government there were also issues for the police and crime commissioners with the Labour PCC for Cardiff Alun Michael taking criticism for his handling of an incident in the Cardiff suburb of Ely which saw two boys die. There were some highlights in the year though and some decent policies were brought through such as the historic ban on single-use plastics.

Welsh Conservatives - Opportunism, U-turns, and division

You can't really talk about the Welsh Tories year without talking about their leader Andrew RT Davies. The farmer from the Vale of Glamorgan went a bit wild on Twitter (well it was called Twitter at the start of the year). Becoming far more populist, stoking division, and being, frankly, weird he evolved to be far more combative in his opposition of the Welsh Government. You can read into this change here (though bear in mind it is actually a Vale of Glamorgan Tory councillor who is actually writing the tweets).

The year was one of U-turns for the Welsh Tories. The most high-profile one was around the 20mph limit. The Welsh Conservatives not only previously supported the 20mph limit but actively campaigned for it. You can read more about it here. Other U-turns were more niche such as spinning on a dime to side with the UK Government on a recycling scheme. They also had previously supported Wales getting its fair share of HS2 but instead said that the cash should now go to Network Rail.

There were agitations behind the scenes to see if Mr Davies could be removed but a purge of staff (there has been a big turnover this year) has put paid to that for now. However Mr Davies is currently being investigated by the Standards Commissioner for comments he made about asylum seekers on GB News which could leave an opening for a leadership challenge.

Beyond just the Welsh party Rishi Sunak refused to answer any questions from Welsh journalists who requested to put them to him at the Tory conference though the secretary of state for Wales David TC Davies did finally give an interview despite months of refusals.

Plaid Cymru - A shocking report and a clean slate?

It was a really tough first half of the year for Plaid. The spring conference was a miserable affair after a WalesOnline investigation months before exposed serious issues with the party's culture. Then-leader Adam Price had clearly given up on any aims of beating Labour and being First Minister by declaring that the party would lead Wales by inspiring Welsh Labour to take on their policies.

However at the start of May former Plaid MS Nerys Evans published her report into the party culture and found the party had failed to have a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment. Mr Price tried to stay on but after a (surprisingly long) period the Plaid MSs united against him and he stepped down.

He was replaced by Rhun ap Iorwerth who took over uncontested. Going from one to the other is going from a dreamer to a pragmatist. The party now report they have delivered more half of the 82 recommendations made within the report and, in the main, appear to be a happier ship.

Policy-wise the party has made managed to push forward with one of its big aims, through the cooperation agreement with Welsh Labour, with the planned Senedd expansion. With that agreement ending next year Plaid will be better positioned to provide some real and credible opposition.