Even though I look on her as a good friend, I'm well aware that Assembly Government Minister, Edwina Hart is not a lady to tangle with. She's duffed me up in the Debating Chamber more than once. So what on earth is UK Government's Health Minister, Ben Bradshaw thinking about, getting into a fight with the Gower Pit bull. Perhaps he was fooled by the soft pink colours that she tends to wear. My advice is to put your money on Edwina. Its an extraordinary row though - about car parking charges at our hospitals. There will be no holding back from the Cardiff Bay corner. Mrs Hart has got form in this sort of thing. I seem to recall her having some choice words for John Prescott over something or other a few years ago. She doesn't take prisoners.
I don't find the issue itself an easy one to take a view on. On balance I think I'm with Edwina on this one though. I just don't like the tendency that Governments have to raise money in sneaky ways - and there's nothing more sneaky than taxing patients and hospital visitors for parking. Its a tax on people when they are at their most vulnerable. (My opposition to free prescriptions was based on the knowledge that the most vulnerable already enjoyed free provision.) On the other hand it is another example of the 'freebie' culture so typical of Rhodri Morgan's leadership. And of course, there's the inevitable question about the £5 million plus which is currently raised. Where is the replacement cash coming from. Longer waiting lists?
But the fight is much more interesting than the issue. One of Rhodri Morgan's main arguments when he is searching out votes, is to emphasise the good working relationship that exists between the two Governments each end of the M4 because they are both Labour led. Well, nobody seems to have told Edwina Hart. Its probably totally unfair, but there is something a touch supercilious about Ben Bradshaw. So - "Sock it to him Edwina".