Front page of today's Western Mail, and First Minister in the National Assembly of Wales is out walking his dog, looking every inch a man already in retirement. Turn the page, and there he is sitting in his armchair in front of the fireplace at Michaelston-le-Pit, complete with Financial Times lying casually unopened on the floor. There's a mug within arm's reach, possibly containing a pre-nap Horlicks. Mr Rhodri Morgan is a picture of contentment. Who would ever have thought that Wales' GDP (or GVA) has fallen and carried on falling throughout his term as First Minister.
Apparently he's been thinking about what his Government can do to help Welsh business cope with the recession. He been telling Western Mail's Chief Reporter, Martin Shipton that his strategy is based on what he did in the Great Foot and Mouth Crisis of 2001. I wonder if he's planning to bury all the casualties in a great big hole on top of the Eppynt again. He thinks it will all turn out OK though, because "there will be Irish tourists popping over to Fishgaurd for the day". No problem - or at least there won't be as long as there is no turning off of money coming from the Treasury. His main worry seems to be that the Barnett Formula will not be reformed to give Wales more public money and that some of the money given to those now losing their jobs and becoming dependent on the state will come out of the funds currently given to Wales. Private sector - what private sector?
Its worth quoting Martin Shipton's reflections after his latest interview with Mr Morgan;
....Rhodri Morgan seems increasingly withdrawn from the hurly-burly of political controversy. He doesn't want to enter the AMs expenses row, and he certainly doesn't want to get involved in speculating about how the leadership contest to succeed him will pan out. Instead, he's happy to act the role of observer, not attempting to pretend that the world's economic problems will be solved in Wales - or even that Wales' economic problems will be solved from Wales....."
Oh, and before you go Martin, put that old recording of Wales winning the Grand Slam on again, and pass me the Horlicks.