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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Reshuffle mania

I spend a week away only to come back to fevered speculation about ministerial reshuffles. I was even telephoned whilst on holiday to establish my view as to whether Cheryl Gillan should be replaced and if so by whom.

I actually refused to comment on that as I don't see how my views are (a) relevant or of any consequence (b) helpful and (c) fully formed.

In truth I do not really care one way or another if we have Cheryl Gillan, Maria Miller or Stephen Crabb in the job. I do agree with Jenny Randerson though that if there is to be a change it would be helpful if the new Secretary of State for Wales represents a Welsh constituency.

Although the article quotes me accurately, it is slightly misleading with regards to the context of what I said to the reporter. As nice as it would be, I am not advocating that Cheryl Gillan is replaced by a Liberal Democrat.

What I said was that there should be a Liberal Democrat in the Wales Office at a more junior level so as to improve coordination between the Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Group and the UK Government.

Having said that, there is a strong element of truth in Toby Mason's analysis of the state of the four Welsh parties over at the BBC when he writes:

Some Tory AMs suggest their main sources of intelligence on upcoming coalition policy and strategy announcements from Westminster are largely corridor chats with Liberal Democrat AMs - who, they feel, are kept considerably better in the loop about what's coming down the track.

We have our lines of communication sorted out and are already succeeding in influencing decisions as was evidenced with the announcement to electrify the mainline to Swansea.

Our dissent on some policies is also noted in the appropriate quarters when we express it, though as always in politics our views do not necessarily get us exactly what we want, when we want it.

A Liberal Democrat Minister in the Wales Office would strengthen those ties and ensure that our voice was much louder at the Cabinet table. I hope that Nick Clegg is pressing for it.
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