Friday, 25 November 2011
So the courtship is over, a new relationship starts now. With Labour and who, you might ask, - the Liberal Democrats. Yes, with the Liberal Democrats in Wales. Why? Because a deal has been done with Labour on the budget.
What is the deal? An extra £20 million for a new Pupil Deprivation Grant, which will stand at £32.04 million in total for 2012/13, to reduce the impact of poverty on educational attainment.
The additional £20 million will be reflected in the Final Budget to be tabled on Tuesday 29 November, and represents a 16.5% increase to the total additional allocation made in the Draft Budget.
The Liberal Democrats have been pushing hard for a deal so that they could creditably go into the local elections with a fig leaf that separates them from the coalition with the Conservatives in Westminster. Their campaign message will be slightly easier to sell now.
Whether the local Labour parties in Swansea, Cardiff and Wrexham welcome this deal is another matter. In these areas they are challenging the Liberal Democrats for control of the councils.
So why not a deal with Plaid Cymru? Well, Plaid Cymru were pushing for £45 million. A price to high for Labour. It also helps Carwyn Jones with his backbenchers who hated the One-Wales agreement with Plaid Cymru. Having a smaller less challenging party on board is much more to their liking.
It can safely be said that an early coalition deal with Plaid Cymru is now very remote. Indeed there is little appetite within Plaid Cymru for a repeat coalition with Labour.They have to decide on their new leader and then the future direction they as a party will take.
As to the budget itself, there will be a vote on the draft budget next week, before finally putting it to bed on 6 December. It all now becomes a bit of a formality with the government having ensured majority support for next years finances.