Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rhodri's New Team

So Rhodri Morgan has been spending the Bank Holiday choosing his new Cabinet, rather than looking through holiday brochures with Julie. Let's speculate on who might be up and who might be down.

He's lost two of his previous top team, including Sue Essex, who has been such a towering presence over the last few years. (In passing, if the Labour Party has any gumption, Sue would not be allowed much time to look through holiday brochres either - and prevailed upon to head East down the M4 to spend some time on the red benches at Westminster).

I don't think Rhodri will drop anyone (except perhaps Brian Gibbons - of which more later). The two I think he'll bring in will be Leighton Andrews (through gritted teeth) and Sandy Mewies. I know Leighton has been a serial 'nat-basher' but he's smart enough to know that the post-election reality demands a big change of approach - if he has leadership ambition that is (does a one-legged duck etc.). His best position would be the 'culture' portfolio - but his nat-bashing probably rules that out. So education it will be. I think Rhodri will go for Sandy because she is so sound and sensible - and he needs someone from North Wales.

Carwyn Jones and Jane Davidson need a move. Rhodri might give Jane the 'Health' job - if she promised to be a bit less school-ma'amish. There will need to be some policy reversals on health and a new face will be needed - and Jane can state that black is white with great conviction. This might mean that Brian is dropped but I expect another portfolio for him. I hope he puts Carwyn Jones in the engine room of Finance. The budget could well be the trigger for the expected 'No Confidence' motion (if they last that long) and it would test Carwyn's skills to the limit. I would also give him the 'culture' brief. It's an odd combination. It's a case of 'Who Else?'.

And now to the policy area I care most about. There really is no obvious candidate. He may give the job to Sandy. A final thought is that Rhodri will not find a place for Huw Lewis - not if he wants to stay in office for more than a few weeks.


Anonymous said...

glyn, rhodri knows hes going to be shot down sometime soon, wouldn't it be in the interests of all concenred, not least assembly finances, to sort this out now? If the rainbow is going to happen we should not let labour agree a cabinet begin putting the wheels of policy development in place etc, spend the associated costs, for it all to be stoppd in 6 weeks time etc. It might not be the norm, and not the normal consitutional right way of doing things, but in the spirit of a new form of politics and for the benefit of the assemby and wales as a whole we need to agree a government now rather than swap shortly. If anything Rhodri should take the higher ground and offer Government now rather than get shot down soon.

Anonymous said...

what?!!?!? no carl sargeant?!?!?!!?!?

Valleys Mam said...

Social Justice Jane D -she is known to really want this one move Andrew Davies to Finance.
Culture –Carwyn, he looks like he would enjoy the crack
Economic Development –Leighton Andrews – he’s made lots of money for himself and can always ask his wife for advice.
Health - Edwina Hart, she gets things done and stands no nonsense
Education –Christine Chapman I always feel she is underestimated (Huw Lewis was a teacher too)
Business manager Sandy Mewes

Anonymous said...

Finance - Andrew Davies
Economy - Cawrywn
Culture - Jane D
Education - Leighton
Health - Huw
Business - Carl Sargeant
Social Justice - Sandy

dowlais twp said...

huw at health - god help us- time to take out private health insurance as sure to god there will be no nhs left in his hands

Anonymous said...

Jane Hutt is obviously going to be in there - she's been constantly at Rhodri's side since the election: the business manager will be a more crucial post than ever so she'll probably stay in that job. Carl and Sandy will probably be tried out as deputies for starters, if sense comes into it. Now must surely be the moment of truth for Huw and John Griffiths. Carwyn needs to be tested with a big portfolio.

Christopher Glamorgan said...

Isn't Environment, Planning and Countryside a big portfilio??? Personally, I've left him with that portfolio and given him the DFM role to assist Rhodri in the coming months (much needed) and it would keep him happy in his current department.


Glyn Davies said...

Sorry anon, but they voted Rhodri in. Too late now.

Christopher - EPC is a 'big' job but is fairly discrete. I think Carwyn needs to be at Finance which is at the heart of where the fault line will be.

Could be Carl Sergeant rather than Sandy - but I don't think so. Putting the two in as deputies will cause serious criticism in North Wales.

And I really cannot see a place for Huw Lewis. It would be provactive to the extent of politica suicide.

Anonymous said...

Carwyn needs to move somewhere in order to prove himself. At the moment he is very much a politician who flatters to deceive. He benefits from being Welsh speaking and being more articulate than your average AM. But the real question is does he have the ability to go to the top? He performed badly in the TV programmes he appeared on during the elction. It is also interesting that he is not rated by those who saw him perform as a councillor between 1995 and 1999 because he is lazy and tends to follow the herd in local matters. As for the rest of the cabinet you could argue who cares because the no confidence issue is bound to crop up sooner rather than later.

Christopher Glamorgan said...

It will certainly be interesting to see if any of the Labour Group suddenly raise their game over the coming months. They may be under the impression that the leadership election could be sooner, rather than later, when Rhodri planned to leave in two years time.

Can't think why this could happen - not as if there's been much talk of coalition in the press lately :-D.

Lucy Sheppard said...

Glyn - are you really suggesting that Huw Lewis be left out of the cabinet at the expense of Sandy Mewies? That is simply absured.

There is a need for greater consensus in this new Assembly - the voters rightly saw to that - but now, more than ever, Labour need use all the talent is has available to it. Huw Lewis would no doubt need to moderate his behaviour, but should be given a chance. He is undoubtedly a big thinker - look at the way he fought to get the Assembly Government to take child poverty seriously.

Incidentally, cut through the media hype and opposition trolling on sites such as yours and Blamerbell, and I challenge anyone find a single instance of Huw Lewis doing anything other than supporting Rhodri. He was wheeled out to defend the team during the election, be it coalition leaks or Brian Gibbons and the kid's hospital clanger.

Glyn Davies said...

Sorry Lucy - but I think Huw Lewis has succeeded in painting himself as so tribally Labour, that his elevation will be seen as provacative. It depends on whether Rhodri, in his weakened position actually wants to survive as First Minister.

And I don't think you will find that I have ever accused Huw of undermining Rhodri. Rather the contrary. I do not question his ability.

Welsh Spin said...

My belief is that this time Rhodri will go for a limited shuffling of the deckchairs that does not throw up obstacles to a more radical reconstruction a few months down the line if he can persuade the LD’s or Nationalists to join the Cabinet.

I predict moves for Andrew Davies, Edwina Hart, Jane Hutt and Carwyn, with Davidson and Gibbons staying put.

My guess is that he may make Sargent Chief Whip – possibly with a Cabinet salary, but probably not (if so he would have to be prepared to give it up in the event of a coalition being secured).

I see Edwina moving to Business Minister, because this is where her robust but practical and commonsense approach is going to be most needed. She is known to drive a hard bargain, but always to deliver her side of it.

Carwyn has earned a move away from EPC. Also Rhodri appears to be grooming him as his likely successor. I would hazard a switch to either DEIN or Finance/Local Govt. If DEIN, then Andrew switches to F/LG. Hutt should go to EPC – where she might prove surprisingly competent.

I think Rhodri wants to reconsider the social justice and CSWL portfolios. Personally I would have him create a Deputy Minister for Children & Families and advocate giving it to Huw Lewis. A further DM should cover Community Safety, possibly Janice Gregory? Both should come under F/LG and a specific local govt DM (Sandy? Leighton?) might also be appointed, with the top job being re-christened Finance & Social Justice.

The Welsh Language brief should go to Gwenda Thomas and Sports/Culture to John Griffiths. I would put them both under Jane Davidson. I’d also appoint Chris Chapman as DM for Public Health & Older People.

FM – Rhodri
Finance & Social Justice – AD
Business – EH

Children & Families – HL
Community Safety – JG
Local Govt Finance & Improvement? – LA? SM? LG?
Welsh Language – GT
Culture & Sport – JG
Public Health & Older People – CC

Christopher Glamorgan said...

Culture, Welsh Language and Sport not in the Cabinet - controversial!!!

At least you've given Carl Sargeant a job as it looks like no-one else will on these blogs :-D

Surely the announcement must be sometime soon as the first official Cabinet meeting is on Monday...

Welsh Spin said...

Firstly I see the Language as discreet from 'fun'. Legislation on the Language will be needed (if only to create the Dyfarnydd) early on. Gwenda is a first language Welsh speaker, has a strong grasp of detail and moreover is trusted within 'unionist' Labour to steer forward something they can live with.

I'm not sure culture and sport deserve a minister at all. I would seriously think of lumping them together with tourism in DEIN!

GT could be elevated to Cabinet level, but my thinking is that RM wants to avoid having to sack / demote as few Labour colleagues as he can get away with in the event he can secure a coalition. In the event of a coalition with Plaid it would be still more important to Labour to have GT as Deputy Minister, since they would almost inevitably insist on having a Cabinet level position with oversight over their 'core' issues. For now, for the reasons outlined above i'd locate the portfolio within DELLS, since education is obviously fundamental to the Language's future!

Finally, i'd expect the appointments to be announced over the weekend, or Monday morning.

Welsh Spin said...

Actually I think I've screwed up. A quick scan of the GoWA appears to confirm that the First Minister counts as part of the 12 - so bye, bye John ...

Glyn Davies said...

Interesting comments welsh spin, and well argued - but not enough to change my original post, although I agree about Edwina as Business Minister and Carl as Cheif Whip.

It would be a surprise to me if Rhodri reduced the number of Ministers to 7 (and deputies an additional 6) - but he might and claim to be cutting back on admin costs. I cannot see Welsh Language being dropped from a Minister's portfolio - and I cannot see a Cabinet without a North Wales representative.

I too expect to hear Rhodri's decisions over the weekend - perhaps Friday.

Welsh Spin said...

Rhodri might of course take on some special responsibility for oversight of language policy himself, since in practice he will have to anyway.

I reckon he'll take the hit in North Wales, but perhaps he'll suprise us by fast tracking Lesley or something !!!

Welsh Spin said...

I'm not really sure about your original post Glyn. You seem to be giving the CWLS portfolio to both Leighton and Carwyn, while promoting Sandy Mewies straight from the backbenches to takeover local government! I know she was a Cabinet member in Wrexham for a time, but this is a big jump! The WLGA are not to be taken lightly.

Anonymous said...

All this discussion regarding the members of Rhodri's cabinet should remind everyone of the lack of any real talent on the Labour benches.Unfortunately Welsh politics is dominated by a bunch of political pygmies at the moment. The suggestion that someone should be in the cabinet because they come from a particular part of Wales is an insult to the Welsh electorate. No one would even consider Meuwies or Fred Flintstone for anything if they were from South Wales. It really would make the assembly a bigger laughing stock than it already is if that is possible.

Christopher Glamorgan said...

Welsh Spin - Your Fantasy Government is safe (as far as I am aware) as the WAG will consist of the First Minister; 12 Welsh Ministers/ Deputy Welsh Ministers; and a Counsel General for Wales.

Glyn, am I right in thinking that you've set up a prize fund for the blogger that is the nearest to getting it right? :-D

Welsh Spin said...

Well I think I can claim to have come fairly close!

The integration of Social Justice and Local Govt under Andrew Davies for example and Carl's elevation.

I was also right that he'd keep the Cabinet down to 7 for the time being to minimise the problems of accommodating representatives from another Party.

Fair play to Glyn though for predicting Carwyn's move to a merged ELLS & CWLS portfolio too.