John Osmond suggests that the size of Carwyn Jones’ new Cabinet will tell us how long he expects it to last
Asked yesterday if he expected Plaid Cymru would be back in government with Labour, the retiring Presiding Officer Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas replied, “I wouldn’t disagree with that. And sooner than the BBC thinks, I suspect.”
If he is right expect Carwyn Jones to construct a considerably slimmed down Cabinet before the end of this week, with no more than six members compared with the last administration’s ten. Although it would probably have considerably more Deputy Ministers – perhaps five compared with the three last time. A smaller Cabinet along these lines would leave room for it to be expanded in the event of a coalition being created within the timescale being anticipated by Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas.
A possible line-up is shown in the first table below, with those names starred already having Ministerial or Deputy Ministerial experience.
Table 1: Carwyn’s Cabinet assuming early coalition
|Carwyn Jones* – First Minister and Minister for Energy
John Griffiths – Counsel General, leader of the Legislative Programme, Business and Budget
Lesley Griffiths* – Deputy Minister for the Budget
Leighton Andrews* – Education, Economy, and Transport
Huw Lewis* – Deputy Minister for Education, Science and Skills
Edwina Hart* – Health and Social Services
Gwenda Thomas* – Deputy Minister for Social Services
Carl Seargeant* – Social Justice, Local Government and Housing
Mark Drakeford – Deputy Minister for Housing
Jane Hutt* – Environment, Sustainability, Rural Affairs and Heritage
Alun Davies – Deputy Minister for Heritage
Carwyn Jones taking on responsibility for Energy – mirroring Alex Salmond’s similar role in Scotland – was trailed in Labour’s manifesto. Apart from that this line-up entails some pretty hefty new departments. Combining Environment and Rural Affairs – which were split between two Ministers in the last Assembly – has been widely predicted. However, to reduce the Cabinet Ministers to six would require a further combination – hence the addition of Heritage. In turn this would require a Deputy Minister. Welsh speaker Alun Davies, the new AM for Blaenau Gwent (formerly List AM for Mid and West Wales), but chair of a special Committee on Broadcasting in the last Assembly, has been widely tipped for this role.
The biggest new department would undoubtedly be one resulting from a combination of Education with Economy and Transport. There is undoubtedly a logic for this, however, given that education is widely seen as the Welsh Government’s main available lever for improving Wales’ economic performance. Leighton Andrews, Carwyn Jones’s key lieutenant, used to be a Deputy Minister for Regeneration and would certainly relish this role.
Carwyn Jones is short of talent amongst his members who have previously been in the Assembly, so expect some immediate promotion for new faces. One is likely to be Mark Drakeford, who has succeeded Rhodri Morgan as AM for Cardiff West. However, he is not exactly a new face since he was Morgan’s special adviser for the whole of his time as First Minister. Drakeford is Welsh Labour’s main ideologue, the author of Rhodri Morgan’s Clear Red Water speech, which has defined the party’s philosophy.
Another new face might be Mick Antoniw, a solicitor and the new AM for Pontypridd who might assist John Griffiths with the legislative programme.
If Carwyn Jones is looking for a long haul in going it alone, then expect him to construct a more conventional Cabinet in terms of numbers, with one following the outline of the last Assembly. In which case we can expect perhaps nine Cabinet members, compared with the last Assembly’s ten (minus a Deputy First Minister), but with fewer Deputy Ministers. The pattern could look like the one suggested in Table 2.
Table 2: Carwyn’s Cabinet assuming a long haul
|Carwyn Jones* – First Minister and Minster for Energy
John Griffiths* – Counsel General and leader of the Legislative Programme
Jane Hutt* – Business and Budget
Edwina Hart* – Health and Social Services
Gwenda Thomas – Deputy Minister for Social Services
Leighton Andrews* – Children, Education and Lifelong Learning
Mark Drakeford – Deputy Minister for Children
Huw Lewis* – Economy and Transport
Lesley Griffiths* – Environment, Sustainability and Rural Affairs
Carl Sargeant* – Social Justice, Local Government and Housing
Mick Antoniw – Deputy Minister for Housing
Alun Davies – Heritage
Again, and even with this expanded Cabinet, there is room for some new faces. Apart from Alun Davies, now taking the front line Heritage post, both Mick Antoniw and Mark Drakeford might still harbour some ambitions in this configuration.