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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

So what happens now?

With such a decisive victory Carwyn Jones' first task as First Minister, that of appointing his cabinet, may well prove much easier than he had anticipated. In truth though having so much room for manouevre could also prove more of a curse than a benefit. It means that his options are greater and he may have to be a bit more ruthless in rejecting one or two of them.

This is an entirely speculative post, based on no inside information whatsoever. It is my thoughts on what may happen rather than my preference. The chances are that I will be proved entirely wrong.

In building the next cabinet let us start from some assumptions. The first of these is fairly easy, that the existing Plaid Cymru Ministers will stay in place and the posts of Economy and Transport, Rural Affairs and Heritage will not be available to Carwyn to reallocate. The same assumption applies to the Deputy Minister for Housing.

The first problem is which of the existing cabinet members to keep. Both Brian Gibbons and Jane Davidson have said that they will be standing down at the next election so it might be natural to ask them to step aside to make room for new blood. I certainly believe that this is what will happen with Brian Gibbons, however Jane Davidson has been a strong supporter of Carwyn and still has unfinished business, not least her attendance at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. I expect her to be asked to stay on.

There has been some speculation that having failed to get his candidate elected, Andrew Davies will stand down from the cabinet. That is a strong possibility. I think that there is also a chance that Jane Hutt will be sent to the backbenches but that depends on some fine political calculations and whether Carwyn has enough candidates to fill all the vacancies.

Amongst the Deputy Ministers I predict that Gwenda Thomas will remain in charge of Social Services and that at least one of the vacancies caused by promotions will be filled by Wrexham AM, Lesley Griffiths. The name of Alun Davies has also been mentioned but to be frank that depends on how forgiving the Labour Group hierarchy is of his many rebellions. Perhaps they will consider that he will be better behaved when constrained by collective responsibility and is part of the payroll vote. If Alun Davies is considered too great a risk then there is a possibility that Jeff Cuthbert will be given the role of Deputy Minister for Skills.

Leighton Andrews is a certainty in my view to enter the cabinet, possibly as Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning or Finance and Public Services. I also believe that Carwyn will keep the role of Counsel General within the Assembly and that John Griffiths will be assigned that role alongside that of Leader of the House.

Edwina Hart is likely to remain at Health whilst Huw Lewis will be given the chance to put all his rhetoric into action as Minister for Social Justice and Local Government. That leaves Carl Sargeant who has been a key part of Carwyn's campaign and who is also likely to get promotion to the cabinet.

Whether I am right or not has to be seen. We will have to wait until Thursday 10th December for the answer to that one.
Iagree with much that you have said and it follows the lines of the bay rumours. The only position i disagree on is Gwenda's position. Surely Carwyn will want to bring in new blood? Alun Davies would be safe here adn unlikely to rebel and even so it's not that prominent a position. He will need to be rewarded though.
We will see next week but Gwenda is a highly respected and knowledgeable Deputy Minister and I suspect she will stay in her current role.
John Griffiths will replace Hutt at Education.

Leighton Andrews will replace Andrew Davies.

I have sneaky feeling Huw might not make the cut, depends on how much dead weight Carwyn can cut. Here is hoping he is left on the back benches.

Maybe there might be some personnel changes on the Plaid side, Helen Mary might get a look in at Housing.
I think Huw's relative underperformance in the final vote (compared to expectations and the supposed strength of his campaign)may mean that those in Carwyn's team arguing for him not to be brought into the cabinet, may win the day.

I certainly think there are far more talented people on the backbenches who would be twenty times more capable than him. christine Chapman is a good example.

I would bet serious money on leighton andrews taking education. While being a nice man, John Griffiths is way too weak to take on the portfolio that Carwyn largely defined his election campaign around.

Andrew Davies will be gone through choice or otherwise. Edwina will stay where she is, with Gwenda.

I agree that Davidson will stay in the cabinet, but I still think she could change job.
Two thoughts really, the first is that the names in the frames are hardly inspiring, the second being that you could argue the case for sending jane Hutt and Andrew Davies to the backbenches so that they can concentrate on trying to save their seats for Labour - not that that's likely to happen in either.
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