Thursday, 6 September 2012

Jones, Randerson and Crabb

In politics it’s often the case that politicians often regret what they’ve asked for. Early this week it applied to Conservative Assembly members who wanted a Welsh Secretary with a Welsh seat. The PM granted their wish and gave them David Jones. This was as palatable as a cold cup of sick to many a Tory AM. 

Move on a few days and the Liberal Democrats are granted  a place within the ministerial team at Gwydyr House in the form of Jenny Randerson or perhaps as we must now more formally address her Baroness Randerson. She becomes the first ever Liberal Democrat to hold ministerial office in the Welsh Office.

Now she’s no stranger to office, she was once a Minister for Fun. Better known as Culture, Sport and the Welsh language at a time when the Liberal Democrats were flirting with the left and had gone to bed with Labour down in Cardiff Bay. A competent minister and an asset to her party. She lost to Kirsty Williams in the contest to lead her party in Wales. The party wanted to move down a generation when Mike German resigned. As compensation Randerson was made a peer with a seat in the House of Lords.

So she and Stephan Crabb MP are to do a job share as junior ministers in Gwydyr House. But the question is, why?

There might have been a rationale in the Liberal Democrat lobbying for a place when the Welsh Office had an important role in Welsh law making. But since the referendum it is difficult to see what usefully the Lib Dems gain from being in the Welsh office.The Assembly can now pass its own laws without Westminster interference so why a Welsh Office at all and certainly why would you push to be even a minor part of it.

Indeed politically it works to the Liberal Democrats disadvantage. Despite Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams saying: "I have often said that it is important for there to be Welsh Liberal Democrat representation in the Wales Office so I am of course delighted to hear the news that Baroness Randerson is to join the team as a parliamentary under secretary of state". You get the feeling that she said it with fingers crossed.

Much of her strategy in Wales has being to distance the Welsh Liberal Democrats from much of the goings on across Offa’s Dyke. “It’s not us, guv. We’re a Federal party.” With a Lib Dem Minister in the Welsh Office such a line is difficult to maintain

It’s another example methinks of being careful what you wish for.

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