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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hostilities erupt on the fifth floor

This morning's Western Mail reports on an extraordinary public row that has erupted between Labour and Plaid Cymru following months of anonymous briefings against the Plaid leader, who is also Deputy First Minister in the Welsh Government.

The paper says that senior figures in Welsh Labour, including MPs, have told the Western Mail they are seriously concerned that Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones’ “mismanagement” of his ministerial brief may harm them at the Assembly election in May:

A senior Labour figure said: “Ieuan Wyn Jones is the One Wales weak link. This is not a party political attack – his handling of the economic brief during tough times has been absolutely shambolic.

“He has lost the confidence and respect of Wales’ business community. Every businessperson I meet wants [former Labour Economy Minister] Andrew Davies brought back. Andrew understood the business community. Ieuan is out of his depth.

“We hope his incompetence doesn’t reflect badly on Labour in May. There’s no reason why it should but we are very aware of the problem. Labour will have a strong offer for Welsh businesses at the time of the election.”

A senior Welsh Labour MP said: “I’ve been very disappointed with the performance of Ieuan Wyn Jones. Even arranging a meeting with businesses in my constituency has proved impossible because he is not in control of his diary and is run by his officials. I hope he’s not in the job after May.”

A senior Welsh Labour AM said: “Plaid are spending a lot of time telling anyone that will listen what they are going to do when they are back in a coalition government after May. The truth is, no-one in Welsh Labour wants that to happen and no-one in the business community wants that to happen.

“Even if we fail to secure a workable majority, One Wales Two will not be the only option for the party. The perception amongst Welsh businesses is that Ieuan is not a responsive minister and that just adds to the feeling that we need to take control of that portfolio again.”

Another Labour AM said: “The gist of the criticism, which is widespread, is not about policy, so it is not a political attack in that sense.

“The issue is with the management of the department: a total lack of engagement and understanding of the business community; a failure to respond to AMs and MPs in good time; a dismissive attitude towards local businesses experiencing problems.”

The paper also quotes a number of businessmen who are complaining about Ieuan Wyn Jones' tenure.

What is extraordinary is the way that the Plaid Cymru leader has responded by not so much defending his own record, as attacking that of his predecessor, Swansea West AM, Andrew Davies who, until recently, sat in the Cabinet with him. Mr. Jones apparently stormed into the BBC Offices on the fourth floor of the Assembly offices and demanded the opportunity to put the record straight:

In an interview with BBC Wales, Mr Jones said he had inherited "substantial problems" when he came into office, and that the transport side of his department was "out of control financially" with overspending on road schemes.

It is worth noting that the Wales Audit Office report shows that the overspends and delays on transport projects have continued throughout most of Mr. Jones' tenure as a Minister. The jury is still out on whether he has sorted this out or not. Still, at least he is not blaming his civil servants for his failures as previous ministers have done.
The department for which IWJ is responsible remains in disarray. People at WAG and those who work for WAG have told me on the phone that his department is in disarray.

As a business Welsh-expat who wanted to help run a work-shop on patenting issues (In regard to the USA) has floundered for misinformation and one group unable to make a decision because they need instructions/authorization from another person etc. It's a shambles, so I gave up - keep in mind that I am probably the number one expert from Wales on the American patent system. I am hoping now to do workshops in the Cardiff area with the assistance of Cardiff City Council - I only want coverage of budget level travel (i.e., economy) and accommodation (motel), there will be no charge for my time.

Pretty soon I am going to draw a line under all this and instead focus on Scotland and/or Liverpool area where they were so keen on me coming to give a workshop or talk some years ago on tips on seeking patent protection in the USA. When I do make the shift (which is a shame as I am from Wales/Cardiff) I will of course turn on the critique stream.
The contributory failings made by Ieuan Wyn Jones were highlighted when the Welsh Assembly refused to investigate critical failures when the snow paralised Wales and the effects were unbelivable. Grit had to be moved in from English Authorities, it made us all look incapable, and made Ieuan Wyn Jones's job untenable.
This is one of the problems of coalition. Ministerial appointments are made not on the basis of who is the best for the job but a sharing out of jobs to meet the terms of the coalition agreement.
Peter I hope your party and Labour are talking just in case labour dont get an overall majority. Another One Wales will be a lost Wales.
Although you praise IWJ for not blaming the civil servants for his own ineffectiveness it has to be said that he couldn't really, could he, given how obvious his failure has been.

In fact, the sad truth is that the only thing I can remember him doing is ensuring handy flights between cardiff bay and anglesey!
Actually the civil servant reference was a back-handed swipe at Andrew Davies.
"....handy flights between cardiff bay and anglesey!"

Very Droll!
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