Wednesday, 18 July 2012

We're all off on a summer holiday

Assembly Members break up for their summer holiday’s today.  But of course politics doesn’t come to a halt it is merely transferred. Next week it will be at the Royal Welsh and then onto the eisteddfod. No, it won’t just the Welsh Blacks that will be parading themselves in Builth. 
As the corridors of power empty for the summer, the talk among hacks inevitably and predictably is about reshuffles, coalitions and leadership challenges.
Will Carwyn Jones feel that he needs to ensure his government of a majority by doing a deal with either Plaid Cymru or the Liberal Democrats. The answer to that question is almost certainly, no. 
After all the government have not lost a vote this past session. The nearest they got to it was on the budget and then they cut a deal with the Liberal Democrats. They’ve not been bothered since.
Governments need a majority to pass their budget and get laws passed. Each year there is some huffing and puffing on the budget but usually a deal is struck. Pork barrel politics does work and politicians can never resist claiming credit for doing a deal.
Laws are a different matter. It is important that a government gets its legislative programme through. But looking at the programme the government have announced, it’s difficult to see any of the Opposition parties disagreeing to the point of voting them down. Consensus rules at the Assembly. Politics would be better served if there was less coziness and more vitriol but alas we are where we are and there is a consensus on most of the bills being proposed. So no knife-edge votes on these are foreseen. Little incentive then for Carwyn Jones to upset his backbench and cwtch up to another party.  
Forget coalition government, it ain’t going to happen any time soon in Wales. 
So what about a reshuffle. Well, that’s a different matter. Party leaders can never resist the temptation of changing “the team.” In politics its never about rewarding competence, if that was the case there would be many an empty chair around the cabinet table. No, it’s about rewarding loyalty. 
But there comes a time when you do have to promote able backbenchers. That means creating spaces that inevitable means sacking the old to make room for the new. 
It will be interesting to see if Carwyn Jones is ruthless enough to wield the knife. One cabinet minister that is undoubtedly safe for the time is Lesley Griffiths. The vote of no confidence in her will have safeguarded her immediate future.The First Minister would not want to be seen to have bowed to Opposition pressure.
Which brings us to the other summer game - spot the plot. Who’s plotting whose downfall. Now the name most mentioned in the context is that of Andrew RT Davies. Not a week goes by that some disaffected Tory backbencher doesn’t whisper words of disloyalty about their leader. Whether they turn loose talk into firm action remains to be seen. If it happens it won’t be now, nor the Ides of March. 
No, the knives will be out in the Autumn, after a summer of telephone plotting.
So lots to ponder over this sporting summer. And if Welsh athletes should win Olympic gold, be assured politicians will certainly also sprint to be in on the picture opportunity.

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