Saturday, October 09, 2010

Are Welsh (and Scottish) Cabinet (and Shadow Cabinet) members becoming a rarer species.

Was genuinely surprised that Labour MPs did not elect a single Welsh MP to their Shadow Cabinet this week. Labour's constitution required 19 Labour MPs to be elected. Lets set aside that this is a daft way to choose a shadow cabinet (and a Ryder Cup team) - though luckily for him, Ed Miliband has more personal 'picks' than Monty, which has enabled him to be surrounded by a team he has some chance of working with. But for this system of 'picks', Labour would have been in the position of having a Secretary of State for Wales not representing a Welsh seat. Personally, I don't see much wrong with this - but Labour have made such an almighty 'song and dance' about it over the last 20 years. What matters is that the position is filled by the best person for the job. Having been born in Wales, or representing a Welsh seat are two of the qualifying criteria. Was particularly surprised that Peter Hain came in 21st though. This was a humiliation, and I daresay I could indulge in mockery - but I'm more interested in why it happened. The question I find myself asking is whether the existence of the National Assembly for Wales was a factor.

The role of Welsh Secretary can basically be divided into two areas of work. Firstly There's the obvious role of representing Wales in the Cabinet (or shadow cabinet), dealing with Welsh issues. But there is also another wider role as a Cabinet member, delivering services in England, which are devolved to Wales. This applies to any Welsh MP who is elected to Cabinet (or Shadow Cabinet). What I'm wondering is whether English MPs (in this instance Labour MPs) now feel a reluctance to have non-English MPs involved in the UK wide role. Opinions welcome.

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