Tuesday, 6 December 2011
To do or not to do, that is the question
It’s a Tuesday ritual that all the political parties in the Assembly hold a briefing for the press. Oh, that’s not quite accurate, Labour has never bothered to do a briefing for the fourth estate.
Now, quite why Labour don’t want to speak or brief the press has never been made clear, but it might be because they've always been the party of government and have let “their” Ministers do the briefing. This worked reasonably well, until this new term, now there are no government weekly briefings. They brief only when it suits, not as a matter of course.
But back to the briefings. As often happens a theme emerges and today was no exception. The line was that Carwyn Jones’s government was lazy. In effect the government has done little since their election in May.
Plaid Cymru were first off the mark saying they were going to vote against the government’s budget. Why, you may ask? Well, it’s because the government is not responding to the dire state of the Welsh economy.
When the hacks questioned Ieuan Wyn Jones on Plaid’s stance. His response was that it was unusual for Plaid to vote against a budget, normally they would abstain. But such was their despair with the Welsh Government they had very little choice but vote against the budget.
Then he made an astonishing declaration. In a quarter of a century of his being involved both as a Member of Parliament and an Assembly Member, he hadn’t experienced a government of any hue, doing so little in its first seven months of office, as this Welsh Government.
An echo to this theme of inactivity by the government, came in the Conservative briefing. They pointed out that there had only been one piece of legislation brought to the Assembly for consideration in the seven months since the election.
Andrew RT Davies the Leader of the Opposition contrasted the Welsh Government with the actions of the other British legislatures. In Scotland six bills and been laid and six was also the tally in Westminster. He was critical at this lack of progress, but he particularly pointed out that the Enterprise Minister had not made an oral statement to the Chamber on the economy since she took over the portfolio in May.
But, perhaps, the unkindest cut of all came from the Liberal Democrats. They were claiming that their support for the budget and the negotiations surrounding the budget had resulted in a wake up call for the government. Peter Black the Liberal Democrat claimed that the Welsh Government “had” been lethargic but "now" they, the Liberal Democrats, had helped “refocus the government” and they would now snap out of their lethargy.
Of course, there was no opportunity to get the government’s take on all the criticism that they’re a 'do nothing' government, ‘cos they don’t 'do' press briefings, either.