Political power is a bitter-sweet experience. It is a 'doddle' just sitting on the sidelines whinging about 'The Government' - which is why so many are not willing to take it on. It is miles tougher work exercising power. Anyway, as part of the discussions on the Final Budget debate the Assembly Government has handed a bit of the power-exercising role over to the Environment, Planning and Countryside Committee, which I chair.
The Labour Government do not like the socio-economic support scheme for upland farming known as Tir Mynnydd. I quote from Labour's Final Stage Policy Document for the Assembly election - which was leaked last month.
"The Tir Mynnydd scheme delivers little in the way of environmental benefits.....Welsh Labour remains clear that the scheme can no longer be justified....... looking to phase it out over the next three years."
Carwyn Jones had announced that the money going to the Tir Mynnydd scheme was to be cut to £22 million next year - but the budget negotiations have resulted in a decision that it should go back up to £36 million instead. But there is to be no extra money. So the £14 million has to come from other spending plans in the EPC budget. This is going to mean some really tough decision making. This is where my Committee comes in. Two weeks ago I was backing Ieuan Wyn Jones to lead us to power this week - but it didn't come to pass. It seems that my 'consolation prize' is to handle what will be the toughest part in the entire budget process. That is why I have been taking every chance I get to prepare the ground for some tough calls over the next few weeks.