Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Two leaders, one party

Two leaders of one party were on show today.

And both the Welsh leader and the UK leader of the Labour party had something to prove today. The one thing they both had in common apart, from being allegedly from the same party, the need to demonstrate that they knew where they were going.

Ed Milliband had the more difficult task as Leader of the Opposition. It is often described as the most difficult job in politics, you can’t do anything but you do have to demonstrate that given the chance you could.

So he has to show that his has alternative ideas are the way forward and his vision captures the imagination and more crucially the votes of the public.

So today he had to convince that he’s got what it takes. In other words he’s got to look like a Prime Minister in waiting with the personality and authority to do the job.

Did he succeed? Well, one speech won’t do it for him, but today he had to lay the foundation.  It was a valiant attempt. There was plenty in it for the party members who were in the hall and even the ritual bashing of the undeserving poor for those middle Englanders who were outside the hall.

Although he succeeded in a thoroughly competant performance, it didn’t have the X factor.

He came over as a thoroughly nice guy, but nice guys don’t get prizes. Was it the speech of a future Prime Minister? That's doubtful.

So what next. He will be given the next year or so, by his party to try to work some magic with the voters. But unless the public starts to see him in a more positive light his own party will kick him out of the leadership. Labour MPs learnt their lesson with Brown, they failed to plunge the knife in the lame-duck leader with dire consequences for the party. There won't be the same hesitantion again.

Now Carwyn Jones is in the job of being the Welsh Labour leader and also the highest Labour holder of a public office in the land.  

Today he announced his programme for government. 

It contained many worthy aspirations, but the one major area that might determine whether his programme sinks or swims was missing. In Labour's manifesto they had the intention 
“to review and seek realignment of the governance and performance of the Assembly civil service, better to reflect the developing requirements of devolution whilst remaining part of the Home Civil Service.”

Now it wasn’t by chance that this appeared in the manifesto. It wasn’t one of these meaningless commitments thrown into bulk out the document. It was heartfelt. 

It appeared because many ministers in the last government felt that the civil service was “not fit for purpose.”

Not up to the job, but Ministers weren’t able to do anything about it. Hence, their determination to change things. They really thought that if it went into the manifesto it would happen. 

But today, nothing, not a whisper. Oh, never underestimate the basic conservative instinct of civil servants.

Sir Humphrey has ensured that his comfortable little number will not be scrunanized by the Hackers of this world.

How confident can Carwyn Jones be that his “Progamme for Government” will be met if it’s left to an unreformed civil service to carry out.

It has been pointed out to me that although the reference to civil service reform is not in the report, it is in the annex. 

This blog will not be holding it's breath that reform will happen soonest.


  1. You say, 'Gareth Hughes is a political commentator.'

    I say 'Gareth Hughes is a Welsh political commentator on matters Wales'.

    Anyone upset?

  2. By an embarrassing coincidence, this comes on the very same day as Sir John Elvidge published his report on the way the Civil Service in Scotland has been transformed for the better. It looks like the SNP has manged to do what Labour in Wales said they wanted to do, but now don't seem so keen on.

    Even Labour's Andrew Adonis thinks it could form a model for change in Whitehall ... although I'm sure it will meet with opposition there. But it might be different in Wales.

    I've written about it here on Syniadau.