I remember a few months ago we were saying how one of the most interesting things about the problems MPs were facing was how parties like Plaid hadn’t been able to capitalise on the misfortunes of their mainstream colleagues.
It’s because they were now lumped in with their mainstream colleagues. Plaid here in Wales and their sister party, the SNP in Scotland, are now parties of Government and can no longer count on picking up votes by being anti-(English) establishment.
But now our national broadcasters could seemingly have thrown them a bone!
They’ve been left out of those mainstream English debates that will have to debate all those issues that are devolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The nationalist parties could now go back to their grassroots, back to their communities, and claim that they are once again the party of the people not of the establishment.
Why are Alex Salmond and Elfyn Llwyd kicking up such a fuss?
Couldn’t they say they’re not the same as everyone else now...
Well Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are all (apparently) very excited about facing each other in a primetime TV debate but not everyone’s happy with the news.
No sooner had the news been announced than Elfyn Llwyd’s people had issued a press release stating their disapproval at being left out of the whole thing.
Mr LLwyd says:
"Plaid Cymru and the SNP have been key parties in Westminster for decades. By choosing to leave out the respective leaders of these parties from this highly publicised televised debate, it gives the three London parties an unfair advantage in this election."
All other minority parties are also being left out of the debate.
One might argue that if the purpose of these debates is to engage with the electorate then (quite literally) filling a stage with people in suits might not be the best remedy.
Another point that doesn’t seem to have been raised yet is the question of what exactly is going to be debated?? Baring in mind that certain policy areas (little things like health and education for instance) are devolved matters and this election will have no direct result on how money is spent in the NHS and in schools in Wales (and Scotland).
The complex British constitution isn’t easily explained or understood...it’ll be interesting to see how ITV, Sky and the BBC try to break down the barriers between politics and the public...
Anything strike you as odd about the following statement from Martyn Jones MP for Clwyd South?
"I'm concerned about the number of people with long-term conditions in my constituency who may be choosing to go without vital medicines... Gordon Brown was right to promise free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions, but he must now follow through and implement this promise as soon as possible."
I think that Mr Jones may have misunderstood just a little whose responsibility it is to act on such issues, given that the Labour lead Welsh Assembly Government have already legislated on the matter!
Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t ‘free prescriptions’ one of Welsh Labour and the Welsh Assembly Governments marquee polices? Hasn’t Welsh Labour defended the policy over and over again, and lauded its success? Isn’t this a prime example of a WAG policy that appeals to the Labour grass roots and legitimises their claim to be the party of the people?
If so it seems a bit odd to me that Martyn Jones a Labour MP would have forgotten about it? Maybe he just simply misunderstood the current devolution settlement? He wouldn’t be the first and he probably won’t be the last.
With the World’s eyes trained on Copenhagen the going has been tough for the leaders struggling to broker a worthwhile deal. However some have found the experience a bit more rewarding having had their efforts praised by none other than the Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger (aka Conan the Barbarian, The Terminator, Mr Freeze).
One such individual is our own environment minister Jane Davidson, whose been busy chairing meetings and having talks about the positive impact that regional and sub national governments can have in lowering carbon emissions.
So what has the Welsh Assembly Government actually pledged to do? Well it has made a commitment to reduce carbon emissions annually by 3% from 2011 onwards (in devolved areas of course). It has put aside £300 million to try and achieve this goal, whilst also putting nearly £250,000 in a pot to help areas of Uganda deal with climate change. So is this enough?
Jane Davidson clearly thinks so saying "It is clear from the commitments that regional governments across the world have already made that we are setting the pace on this agenda and hopefully our example will lead to a deal by the end of the week."
And so it would seem does Arnie, telling WAG officials to “Keep up the good work in your efforts to fight climate change”.
But are the WAG really ‘‘setting the pace?’’ Pressure groups are sceptical many of whom (like Oxfam Cymru) are calling for Carwyn Jones and his new cabinet to treble their commitment and pledge to cut emissions by 9%. Setting the pace? Maybe not then.
If regional governments like the WAG, whose efforts are being praised, aren’t even cutting the mustard, then what hope is there for a worthwhile global deal?
And doesn’t the mathematics of it all mean that in reality their efforts are a bit pointless if the Worlds big polluters (USA, China, India e.t.c) don’t vote for drastic change?
We wait with baited breath for the outcome of the Copenhagen talks on Friday, I wonder if the rest of the World will follow Wales’ (strong or weak - you decide) lead?
Hasta la vista, baby (sorry could not help myself!).
So we now know who's in and who's out. It's a fairly well shuffled pack on the Labour side.
Here's the team that will lead Wales:
First Minister - Carwyn Jones Health - Edwina Hart Business and Budget - Jane Hutt Children, Education and Lifelong Learning - Leighton Andrews Environment, Sustainability and Housing - Jane Davidson Social Justice - Carl Sargeant Skills (Deputy Minister) - Lesley Griffiths Children (Deputy Minister) - Huw Lewis Social Services (Deputy Minister)- Gwenda Thomas Counsel General - John Griffiths Chief Whip - Janice Gregory
It’s been a busy day down the Senedd today; after the morning winds had calmed down we took some time out, had a cup of tea, and reflected on the day’s events.
Today was supposed to be all about Rhodri’s last question time and his last moments as First Minister and in all honesty it was. That’s what the record books will remember and by the close of play today that’s what was on the minds of those still milling around.
However the Welsh Conservatives did upset the applecart a little earlier with their shock announcement that caught all of us, including Plaid Cymru, off guard.
So why today? Considering the party had managed to keep the whole thing such a secret for some time the decision to announce this morning was obviously calculated. I assumed initially, and still believe, that this was a plan to steal some headlines and air time away from Rhodri and the Labour party. Think about it, the Conservatives must be fed up of all the coverage the Labour party have had over the past few months what with the election campaign and all. This was a great opportunity to share some of the limelight.
However whilst a defection is good news for the Conservatives, given the unresolved issues surrounding the defection (staffing issues e.t.c) and Oscar’s ability (or lack of) to communicate to camera, were the Conservatives were actually trying to bury the news a touch? After all instead of a full 3 minute piece on the news you were now more likely to simply get a 30 second clip...
It doesn’t really matter what their motives were I suppose the facts remain the same – but I thought it an interesting consideration and one you may like to ponder over a cup of tea yourselves.
Here's Plaid's response (in full) to Mohammad Asghar's defection:
The Leader of Plaid Cymru Ieuan Wyn Jones AM has responded with surprise and disappointment to the news that Mohammad Asghar, the Assembly Member for South Wales East has left Plaid Cymru to join the Conservative group in the Assembly.
Mr Asghar was elected to represent the South Wales East region on behalf of Plaid Cymru in 2007. The Plaid Leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said:
“We very much regret Mohammad Asghar’s decision and it comes as a shock to members both of the Plaid Cymru group and the wider party. We were particularly surprised to hear of this news from the media. We were very proud of the fact that in campaigning hard for Mohammad Asghar’s election in 2007 that Plaid Cymru ensured the first ever Assembly Member from the black minority ethnic community. It is has come as a shock that he has now decided that he shares the same values as those held by the Conservative and Unionist party.”
The Chair of the Plaid Cymru group Dai Lloyd said:
“We now call on Mohammad Asghar to take the honourable decision to resign his seat as a Plaid Cymru AM. The people of the South Wales region did not want a second Tory AM to represent the area – they elected a Plaid Cymru AM. Mr Asghar does not have the political mandate to sit in the Assembly as a Conservative member for the South East.”
On Saturday Labour elected Christine Gwyther to be their candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr in the general election. The former Assembly Member for Carmarthen West and South Pembroke has been out of frontline politics since 2007 and is now ready for her comeback.
An AM for 8 years she was controversially appointed minister for agriculture by Alun Michael despite the fact she was a vegetarian. With Wales being in the middle of a beef crisis at the time opposition parties and farming unions weren’t best pleased to say the least. When Rhodri took over the reins she was replaced by the now First Minister in waiting Carwyn Jones, ironically on the eve of the Royal Welsh show.
The selection of Gwyther shows that the Labour Party are beefing up their efforts in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. Despite her sketchy record as minister for agriculture Christine Gwyther has been an elected politician for some time and is an experienced campaigner. The Labour party in the area must be hoping that they can take advantage of Adam Price’s decision to step down and the selection of an old head must be an attempt to counter Plaid’s candidate Jonathan Edwards.
It will be interesting what impact Chrisitne Gwyther will make in the seat, with a big majority to overturn is she simply a lame duck?
Having just spoken to a local Labour party insider it may well be that it was the lack of competition that swung the vote for Christine Gwyther and not some grand plan emphasising experience!
This is a voice mail message left by one of her competitors to a 19 year old brass band member who pulled out of a concert (granted it was in Lybia). It's quite infamous by now so you may remember it.
One First Minister leaves and a new one gets started (although not at the same time so we will be First Ministerless for a chunk of the week too).
With so much procedure and protocol I just thought I’d run through what’s going to happen (as far as we know):
Rhodri Morgan holds his last ever First Minister’s Question time in the chamber at 1.30pm (I wonder how sad he will be to see an end to them?)
There’ll be a debate on the budget late tomorrow afternoon (which might be finished by 5.30pm-ish – but Plenary session timings are not an exact science...)
Rhodri Morgan will send off an email to Buckingham Palace (who have been warned to expect it). He will cease to be First Minister when the Queen accepts his resignation
Providing Her Majesty checks her emails on Tuesday night...
The Presiding Officer will call a vote in Plenary after Ministerial questions (so around 2.30pm...probably closer to 3pm). The only thing we don’t know yet is whether or not the Tories and Lib Dems will try to vote down Carwyn Jones, abstain from the vote or (unlikely but you never know) vote for him...
Dafydd El gives the Queen a ring afterwards to let her know the outcome
The Queen invites Carwyn Jones to be Welsh First Minister. He becomes First Minister if/when he accepts but can’t exercise the duties of the office until he’s sworn in which won’t happen until...
Carwyn Jones sworn in as new First Minister by Wales’ most senior Judge who’s called Nigel Davies (as well as any new cabinet members who Carwyn can’t actually nominate until he’s taken the oath himself)
Finance and Public Services Delivery Minister Andrew Davies has announced today that he is to stand down as an AM at the next Assembly Election. The man behind Edwina Harts campaign said that “it is time for me to have a greater balance and change of pace in my life and to seek out new challenges.”
The question we’re asking is did he jump before he was pushed? We know that Andrew Davies isn’t Carwyn Jones’ biggest fan, recently he described his role in the Cabinet as “semi-detached”. We also know that Carwyn will be looking to promote some of his supporters into the cabinet (Leighton Andrews anyone?) and so it may be that the prospect of being demoted to a backbench AM was something he didn’t fancy.
The news will also come as a bit of a kick in the teeth to Carwyn Jones who had been quite successful in pushing his theme of post election party unity. I wonder if this announcement will take some of the gloss off Tuesday’s events? In saying that, this does make his reshuffle a little easier, he can now claim that because Andrew Davies is stepping down in 2011 he had to replace him in the cabinet, and it therefore had nothing to do with their frosty relationship (but such a strategy could leave him in hot water because of Jane Davidson).
Today’s news offers a whole host of implications for the upcoming reshuffle and is likely to spawn several conspiracy theories, it could just be that Andrew Davies fancied a change! His decision to step down has been on the cards for a while according to some, but others have been caught by surprise. As late as last night some Plaid Cymru sources had been telling the Western Mail that Carwyn Jones should keep Andrew Davies in the Cabinet. I doubt they’ll be saying that today. You can read more about that here.
Andrew Davies will leave behind a Swansea West constituency that is high on the Liberal Democrats hit list, which whilst not making everyone quake in fear should give the Labour party some cause for concern. The Liberals have steadily increased their council representation in Swansea and have a strong operation in the area.
The list of AMs stepping down at the next election is growing almost monthly, which means that whatever the outcome politically there will bve a host of new faces come 2011.
P.S a quick plug: If you’re not already following us on Twitter you should be! Here’s the link take a look to see who broke the news first...
So now for a bit of rampant speculation. Here’s my guess as to the makeup of Carwyn’s Cabinet.
Here’s what it looks like Now:
First Minister: Rhodri Morgan Deputy and Economy and Transport: Ieuan Wyn Jones Environment, Sustainability and Housing: Jane Davidson Finance and Public Service Delivery:Andrew Davies Social Justice and Local Government: Dr Brian Gibbons Health and Social Services: Edwina Hart Children Education Lifelong Learning and Skills: Jane Hutt Heritage: Alun Ffred Jones Counsel General: Carwyn Jones Rural Affairs: Elin Jones
I have no basis for the following breakdown just some gossip and backrooms whispers. Think of it as a bit of fun ( I need to get out more!!)
First Minister: Carwyn Jones (New) Deputy and Economy and Transport: Ieuan Wyn Jones Environment, Sustainability and Housing: Jane Davidson Finance and Public Service Delivery: Leighton Andrews (New) Social Justice and Local Government: John Griffiths (New) Health and Social Services: Edwina Hart Children Education Lifelong Learning and Skills: Huw Lewis (New) Heritage: Alun Ffred Jones Counsel General: Removed (or still done by Carwyn / unelected official) Rural Affairs:Elin Jones
John Griffiths and Huw Lewis could easily be the other way around, to be fair most of the list could be different!
It’s down to work for Mr Jones, First Minister-elect, then!
Last night he wouldn’t be drawn on who would be in his cabinet and whatever rumours we’ve heard so far would appear to be just that.
What is for sure is for the next few weeks none of the other Assembly Members will really know what to do with themselves. They’re there to hold the Assembly Government to account, but the Assembly Government is about to be reshuffled (how significantly it’s hard to tell) and until all the pieces fall into place not everyone’s going to know where they stand.
There’s the budget to keep them somewhat busy. And Carwyn Jones’ cabinet choices.
But as was apparent from the lobby briefings yesterday, those two stories (the latter in particular) are pretty much going to dominate Cardiff Bay up until Christmas.
We’ll not see business-as-usual until the new year.
Months of speculation, weeks of campaigning and days of guessing and here we are, finally having confirmation that Carwyn Jones has been elected as the next leader of the Welsh Labour party.
Whilst the result wasn’t surprising the scale of his victory certainly was. The man who is now first minister elect received 51% of the first round vote, winning outright and removing the need to worry about second preference votes.
So what’s next? Well there are 2 key questions I suppose:
1) What shape will the cabinet now take? Who’s in, who’s out? 2) What’s his stance on an autumn referendum?
In his interviews post result Carwyn batted all these contentious issues aside and instead focused on the unifying effect of the election. All three candidates expressed their belief that this is now a Labour party united and ready to take the fight to the Tories et al come May/June.
The speculation is now rife as to the future of many things – but for tonight let’s just leave it at the facts.
Carwyn Jones - 51.98 % Edwina Hart - 29.19 % Huw Lewis - 18.84 %
Ry'n ni'n newyddiadurwyr darlledu s'yn gohebu ar hynt a helynt gwleidyddiaeth yng Nghymru. Ry'n ni'n hollol ddi-duedd ac yn gwbl ddi-flewyn-ar-dafod. Gadewch eich sylwadau a'ch syniadau. 'Da ni wastad yn edrych am sgwrs i'w chael ac am drafodaeth i'w chynnal.
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