Saturday, May 19, 2007

Our new First Minister

Really enjoyed today's Western Mail. The journalists have accepted that the Rainbow Coalition is a 'done deal'. What is truly astonishing is that the London based media have hardly touched the story - neither Peter Black's Guardian or my Telegraph. On the front page of the WM, Ieuan is already sounding like 'a statesman' - at least in print!

Tomos Livingstone described me as being a 'cheerleader' for the Rainbow Coalition - more a believer I'd say. As soon as I realised that Plaid Cymru had beaten my party for the runners up spot in the recent Assembly election, I thought it was a real goer - and when Peter Black scuppered Mike German's plans for a deal with Labour, it became a certainty. This development is being described as 'seismic' by some - but for Mick Bates, Brynle Williams, Elin Jones and me, it is only an extension of what we had being doing in the Environment, Planning and Countryside Committee for the last two years.

I enjoyed David Williamson's Rainbow Cabinet - which is as near as dammit to the one I posted 2 days ago. I don't agree with David that we Tories couldn't take on education though. There would be no-one better than Jonathon Morgan for this job. And I would be disappointed if Mike German took the 'Economy' brief - partly because I would like to see Cairnsey doing it, but also because Mike would do a terrific job with the 'Local Government' brief.

Rhodri Morgan seems to be surprised by what has happened. He should have been tuning in to my blog. Its all too late now. But I will challenge his 'case against'. Labour did indeed win more seats, but won only 30% of the vote compared with the 60% won by the three coalition parties. Rhodri also claims that if the electorate had known what is now happening before the election, the result would have been different. This, despite him using the whole campaign to tell voters that only a vote for Labour would prevent Tory ministers. Problem for Rhodri was that voters (except the tribal Labour vote) can see that my party is every bit as committed to Wales and good public services as anyone else.

From now on, this blog is moving on from the 'done deal' to what this new Ieuan Wyn Jones led Government should be setting out to do. And there is huge scope for debate on this subject.


Anonymous said...

Mike German with the local government brief? An interesting suggestion, Glyn. He'd go down a real treat with the Labour councillors on his 'PR for local government' quest. It would really rub Labour's nose in it. It is a great idea.

Judy Garland said...

Of course your assuming Glyn that the departments stay as Labour established them. Surely the boundaries are likely to change. For instance IIRC the opposition (ooops Government!) parties wanted the language in the FM's office not shoved under culture. There were calls for a Minister for the Valleys as well. My guess is that the new government will be more creative than we expect when it comes to what jobs there are as well as who does them. Why not a Minister for Higher Education and the Arts, for instance, or a tightly focused Minster for business and enterprise?

Anonymous said...

Maybe a first priority of any new government should be to ensure that the electorate is not further burdened by extra taxes.
The first test will be to show responsiblity with public spending.

Anonymous said...

Given the way in which the Lib Dems have failed to take the right decisions in the authorities they lead German in charge of local government should be a laugh. Also don't underestimate the skeletons in German's cupboard. Last time the Labour establishment had an interest in protecting him. I'm sure the public will be be really interested in seeing the truth about events in the past. Don't worry Glyn putting together the Rainbow alliance is the easy bit. Running Wales in a tight public sector financial climate on the other hand will not be easy. I also wouldn't underestimate the ability of at least some Labour AMs to act as an effective opposition.

Pete R said...

Don't assume the Rainbow is a done deal. The current document still has to go though the civil service costing process to see if it can be delivered and it has some possibly costly proposals in there if its based on the manifestos.

Take the free laptop proposals. Who will own them? the child, watch the e-bay flood; the council, who will pay for the extra staff to maintain them (replacing machine failures as well and the upgrade costs on the software); or the assembly, but then surely they would be part of the merlin contract with all those extra unnegotiated users and a licence to print money for the IT contractor.

Then of course both Plaid and the Lib Dems would have to get it though their memberships.

Options for a deal may be tantalisingly close but I suspect this may be four years and one election too soon for the membership of those parties to sign on the dotted line.

Glyn Davies said...

Several comments deserving response - and I'm stuck for time. Will respond tonight.

But I agree with judy garland - I had to assume unchanged portfolios for the purpose of my fantasy cabinet - even though I realise there will be a complete new look at how the Government is structured. Personally, I wouldn't have a Social Justice Minister - and I'm sure that Ieuan will have his own ideas.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I wouldn't have a Social Justice Minister - and I'm sure that Ieuan will have his own ideas.

well you won't get Leanne in a tory cabinet so that's sorted.
shows what you prioritise!
Its about time people stopped hero worhshipping you, and realising that this Rainbow coalition is a non starter.

you and your party want power at any cost.

David Thomas said...

Jenny R can't be Culture as she's monoglot. Presumably DET will have to resign as PO. He should then become Minister for Constitutional Affairs and sort out Richard/Referendum/STV/dual candidacy etc for next time. He'd also be really good a "Foreign" minister, representing the Assembly in London cabinet discussions - something the next Wales/NI(?) Secretary of State will find difficulty doing if not in the Rainbow.

Pete R said...

"Jenny R can't be Culture as she's monoglot"

It didn't stop her before and the progress made for the Welsh language under her time at Culture during the partnership agreement is looked back on lovingly by many Welsh language proponents that I know.

Anonymous said...

pete r said:
"Take the free laptop proposals. Who will own them? the child, watch the e-bay flood; the council, who will pay for the extra staff to maintain them (replacing machine failures as well and the upgrade "

There is such a gulf between the haves and have not now that something has to be done to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are not left behind. They are usually children and the new pensioners, and those genuinely long term sick.
We assume that every child has a computer these days but there are many for whom it is just a dream. Due to poverty or domestic circumstances. It has always been known that not all parents put the needs and requirements of their children before their own. Making laptops to children will be one way of ensuring that these children do not go without.

Anonymous said...

No, Dafydd Elis Thomas would NOT have to resign. The only rule re. PO and DPO in the new standing orders is that they can't both come from governing parties.

The only circumstance in which either he or Rosemary Butler would have to resign would be if there was a formal coalition between Plaid and Labour, and in which case RB would probably go before DET

Welsh Spin said...

Rhodri Morgan can hardly be blamed for frustration at seeing his 30 year political career end in this manner. Enoch is again proved right that all end in failure. The point about the largest Party is one you can expect to hear repeated - especially as the necessity for compromise between the coalition forces manifesto promises out of the window.

Once you take away the initial rage on the part of Labour members and die hard supporters, who aren't used to this sort of thing, however it is possible to see this as a blessing in disguise. This is particularly the case when one considers the likely alternative, recognising that a four year programme for formal coalition was not on the table for Labour with either the Nats or LDs. A 'supply & confidence' agreement - particularly with the Nats - would have either had to evolve into a full coalition pretty rapidly, or it would have collapsed as soon as an issue arose over which the other parties could unite (e.g. Obj 1 matchfunding), painting the resultant no confidence process as being at least partly Labour's fault. Better in many ways Transport House might reason that it happens straight away. Labour in Wales fought a reasonable campaign given adverse national conditions, surpassing (just) most predictions (24/25 seats seemed to me to be the average at the outset of the 5 week campaign). Labour can powerfully target the voters it has lost to the Nats and LDs and in local elections as it builds to a crunch general election, by which time its' AMs can be expected to have got their act together in opposition, almost certainly under a new Leader (I expect Rhodri will stick around for 6 months or so to help the Party adjust to the demands of opposition and allow a debate about political direction to take begin without being immediately swamped by the polarisation of a leadership election - of course he will also be hoping that the coalition collapses spectacularly so he has to pick up the pieces or is even able to force a new election).

The Rainbow Coalition is risky for the Tories. It could do a great deal of damage to the LDs and is 'make or break' for the Nationalists to show they are more than a cultural protest movement and can actually govern. Expect Labour to focus ruthlessly on the fracture points between and within the three governing parties, especially in seats such as Aberconwy, Carms West and the two Vales, harping on endlessly about how a vote for anyone else is a vote for a Cameron government. I anticipate interesting times and some choppy waters ahead in Cardiff Bay.

Anonymous said...

Welsh Spin, you are very optimistic.
Have you thought that the Labour stronghold might be dying out? The highest voting turnout is among the over 60s and that is where Labour gets it's majorities.
It's a myth that Labour can 'get votes back'.
It will take more than two years to get confidence back after the disastrous effect of New Labour on welsh communities and there are no high profile Labour personalities to start inspiring the electorate again.

Welsh Spin said...


Possibly, only time will tell. Experience however leads me to take 'Labour are a spent force' claims with more than a pinch of salt! I see no evidence in the Assembly result of any implosion on Labour's part. With 24 constituency seats out of 40 they can hardly be said to have 'lost' the election and have managed to govern Wales if not spectacularly, then without catastrophe.

Of course much now depends on how the Rainbow Parties handle government and how far Labour can maintain discipline and adjust to opposition. No doubt the wider UK political scene will have an effect to as Labour and the Tories start slugging it out with an eye to the general election.

Anonymous said...

"Its about time people stopped hero worhshipping you"

Oh poor Glyn!
It was bound to happen. There we are, all parties gathered on your computer and enjoying your political company. Some of us wondering for the first time ever that really, Tories can't be all that bad if they have Glyns. Even , if other parties had more Glyns then we might have better hope in them working together.

Glyn Davies said...

Lots of well considered comment. My general response is that there are a lot of very capable AMs in the three coalition parties - and I believe they will make it work.

But welsh spin is dead right in that this coalition is a risk to all three parties. Coming to an agreement is just the first step - and its going to take a lot of statemanship and commitment to the cause for it to work - because once Labour has recovered from the shock it will recover. During my term as an AM I shadowed Sue Essex and Carwyn Jones, both of whom I grew to respect as tough and capable opponents. There is a big challenge ahead.

anon, when I say that I personally would not have had a Social Justice Minister all it means is that I do not think isolating a cross-cutting issue such as social justice is the best way to deal with the subject.

And David Thomas - I disagree with your point that a non Welsh speaker cannot do 'culture'. Jenny Randerson did a good job last time around.

On reflection, perhaps history does make Local Government a touch awkward for Mike German - its just that I served with him as our Local Government spokesman for a while, and he really knew his stuff.

Welsh Spin said...

Local Government is going to be as big a fracture point as any.

I can see the WPLP assenting to STV for local govt, provided it's surrounded by similar guarantees to elected mayors for example. If the Assembly Govt were to insist post Lyons, they might even give way on allowing Wales to pilot Local Income Tax in place of Council Tax. The Nats & LDs will be especially concerned about Council Tax in their strongholds over the coming 12 months ...

One way to cope might be to bat it all off into an all singing all dancing Commission or such imposing creation, which would also consider the case for slashing the number of LA's, and, consequently, LHB's.

The point is that all the Rainbow manifestos are about to hit the buffer of civil service accountants reality. Local government is where the divergence between spin and substance will be most readily apparent.

Glyn Davies said...

Oh yes - there is so much to decide on. We are in for an interesting time