Creating a new government is the most defining thing that a First Minister can do. It is also a vital first step in indicating the direction of a government. So now that Mark Drakeford has created his first administration, we can summarise ten key themes from his appointments:
Continuity: Very few new ministers have entered government, this is very much a continuity government in which his most trusted and experience allies have been rewarded.
Loyalty: Mark Drakeford is known as a loyal politician and he respects that quality in others. He has rewarded a number of loyal allies during the election campaign – Ken Skates, Lesley Griffiths, Rebecca Evans and Julie James have all been recognised.
Freshness: At the same time, the First Minister has been keen to bring some sense of freshness to his government, and he has achieved this with some new faces, mostly notably Julie Morgan and Lee Waters. The return of Jane Hutt also makes Welsh Government feel complete once again. After a nuclear war, it will only be her and cockroaches left.
Exits: Every reshuffle sees departures and it has long been suspected that Alun Davies, who has been out of kilter with Drakeford on local government policy amongst other things, would depart. Out too goes Huw Irranca-Davies, the effective deputy minister. Both of them stood for the leadership and couldn’t find support. Seemingly the new First Minister noted this and believes removing them from government will not produce a chorus of anger.
Contenders: The two other leadership contenders who made it to the ballot have, however, been recognised for their talent and the way they conducted themselves during the contest. Eluned Morgan is promoted from a ministerial role to be a full blown Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for International Relations alongside the Welsh language. Quite how this role will work with Jeremy Miles having responsibility for Brexit remains to be seen.
Stability: Both Kirsty Williams and Dafydd Elis Thomas retain their previous portfolios and ensure the Welsh Government has a working majority in the Assembly.
Gender balance: In interviews at the weekend, the new First Minister indicated he would be gender balancing his government. He has fulfilled this promise. Out of 14 appointments including himself, 8 are women and 6 are men. This is the first time this has ever happened in Wales, perhaps in any part of the UK.
Structure: As Positif speculated last week, there has been some structural change though it does not seem as a radical as expected. The movement of Housing into a Cabinet responsibility will be welcomed though.
Titles: Out goes the pretentiousness of Cabinet Secretaries, and we are back with Ministers and Deputy Ministers again.
Politics: The Welsh Government is now arguably, from top down, the most left leaning it has ever been. Noted left wingers like Julie James and Julie Morgan certainly bring that angle to their new portfolios.