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Sunday, February 04, 2018

How much longer can Carwyn Jones remain First Minister?

In many ways, the title of this post is a rhetorical question. Carwyn Jones' future is still in his own hands but doubts are being raised as to how long that will remain the case.

The BBC report on the views of Professor Richard Wyn Jones of Cardiff University's Wales Governance Centre that the First Minister's political authority has "ebbed away very substantially". He believes that even if the various investigations clear Carwyn Jones of any wrong-doing, it could be too little too late:

He told the Sunday Politics Wales programme: "His authority is clearly in tatters, I don't think there's any doubt about that.

"And, actually, rebuilding it; even if he's exonerated - and I have no internal information at all - he may well be completely exonerated, but even if he is, I think it would be very difficult for him to regain his previous stature.

"I'm not saying this is fair. I'm not saying it's a good or a bad thing.

"I'm just observing that his political authority has ebbed, has flown away, slipped through his fingers.

"And the point about political authority is; once lost it's extremely difficult to get it back." Image caption Theresa May has people defending her in a way Carwyn Jones does not said Prof Jones

Prof Jones said he was surprised at the lack of allies willing to defend the first minister.

"I think one of the most striking things over the past few weeks is there are no outriders," he said.

"Carwyn Jones has absolutely nobody standing up in front of the camera defending him.

"Even Theresa May manages to find somebody to stand in front of a camera and defend her, we haven't seen that."

He added that it seemed the Labour Party had moved on and was looking to the future without Mr Jones at the helm.

"It's almost as if Carwyn Jones is old news in a sense," he said.

"There's the issue of when and how he departs, but the party does seem to have moved on to actually discussing the successor."

It is far too early of course to say whether Carwyn Jones will survive this crisis, but my view is that Richard Wyn Jones is correct. There is a very real sense that key allies of the First Minister are starting to position themselves for the succession, nobody is coming onto political programmes to fight his corner and he appears to be going through the motions in the siambr.

Politically he is wounded by the events around Carl Sergeant's sacking and the reaction of former supporters to the way he handled the matter. What happens next is out of his hands and that is no place for a national leader to be.
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