Unite’s intervention is a flashback to a darker period in Welsh Labour’s politics

The contest for the Deputy Leader of Welsh Labour has been the least engaging political fight since last autumn’s “fight” to find the new leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. (There’s a bonus point if you can name the runner-up and two bonus points if you can name the winner.) This new battle has been described to me in various ways: Momentum v non-Momentum; Cardiff v Swansea; AM v MP; OMOV (One Member One Vote) v Electoral College. What hasn’t been clear is what the new role will actually do. Perhaps that is because it has a job description akin to the Assistant Deputy Leaders of UKIP (they are real… Read More

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The Cold War

The cold war between the two Governments with jurisdiction over Wales continued this week, with Mark Drakeford offering a rather icy analogy over the stand off: “Welsh Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said: “If I was trying to explain this to somebody who isn’t close to it all, I would say this: the UK government wants to take some responsibilities that are today held by the national assembly and put them in a freezer that would be held here at Westminster. The three issues we wanted to talk about today was how do those items get put in the freezer – who decides that’ll happen?” At the heart of the problem… Read More

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Taxation: A process not an event

With so much political drama surrounding the Senedd in recent months, and the constant fighting over Brexit, it is easy to forget some of the mechanical aspects of legislating that were perhaps expected to characterise this Assembly. Chief amongst these are the powers of taxation reached by negotiation between the governments at both ends of the M4. The first phase in enacting this process was relatively straight forward and we now have a separate regime in Wales relating to both stamp duty or land taxation, and also landfill in Wales. Of course these are relatively small taxes, but they represented a cementing of that new competence. More tricky is the… Read More

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I’ve changed my mind – the Assembly needs more members

I’ve changed my mind. Independently, without coercion, and without a single Damascene moment, I have come to realise I have become wrong. By that, I do not mean I was wrong in the past, but rather it would be wrong to continue to believe something now which is demonstrated as palpably untrue. I have accepted the case for the increase of the number of members of the National Assembly for Wales. Ok, that may be a so what moment outside the bubble, but at least within it I’ve been known as one of the most trenchant and vocal opponents of expanding the number of AMs. Put simply, my opposition has… Read More

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Changing of the guard

Five factors seem to be at work in understanding today’s Cabinet reshuffle. The painfully slow process – and perhaps particularly personally painful for some – played out at such a pace that for once the Welsh Government offices in Cathays Park would have been full on a Friday afternoon. Yet there seems to be a series of specific motivations behind the moves. The most obvious is the change of generations. Out after eighteen years goes Jane Hutt, the longest serving Labour minister in UK history. Her record is mighty and proud. She may well appear like a ghost in the back of the new team photo, such is the length… Read More

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Following the leader?

Party conferences can be a place of contemplation and self-reflection and after a stream of elections and with no other imminent elections or referenda (for the moment) on the political horizon, Plaid Cymru couldn’t avoid the usual election post-mortem at their Annual Conference in Caernarfon last weekend. Their performance earlier this year was the central discussion point. However, even out of election-mode the Plaid Cymru spin machine continues on its steady cycle with prominent party members hailing the General Election a great success as they returned their highest number of MPs yet and gained more councillors in local elections. And, given the two-party focus of the election, the gain of… Read More

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Rhodri Morgan: Intelligence, Integrity, Internationalism

Rhodri Morgan was the First Minister that Wales deserved. A dazzlingly clever man, whose memory and capacity for detail was remarkable, he embodied so many core characteristics of his nation. From his passion for and knowledge of sport to his reverence for academia to his cultural confidence and sensitivity, Rhodri was a unique fusion. He also possessed the qualities of kindness and genuine compassion which so many people have illustrated with anecdotes since his passing. But there are some facets of his outlook and political positioning that have barely been discussed. One was his tremendous accomplishments as a shadow spokesperson for Labour in Westminster during the 1990s. Much has been… Read More

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