The four factors behind Carwyn Jones’ changing of the guard

The First Minister. Picture: National Assembly.

Daran Hill

Four factors seemed to be at work in understanding yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle.

The painfully slow process – and perhaps particularly personally painful for some – played out at such a pace that for once the Welsh Government offices in Cathays Park would have been full on a Friday afternoon.

Yet there seems to be a series of specific motivations behind the moves.

The most obvious is the change of generations. Out after eighteen years goes Jane Hutt, the longest serving Labour minister in UK history.

Her record is mighty and proud. She may well appear like a ghost in the back of the new team photo, such is the length of her involvement.

Her demise has been speculated at every reshuffle for over a decade but it seems her departure was done by mutual consent.

That phrase has also been used to describe another departure, of which more later.

Can it also be said to apply to Mick Antoniw, the popular and effective Counsel General? To my mind he has been the most political and effective person to ever hold that office and there’s something unfair to see him lose the role he so clearly relished.

Dafydd Êl

The second clear motivator is the desire to bring in new blood. The class of ’16 were never, as some suggested in social media, going to walk into Cabinet jobs either last year or this year.

Huw Irranca-Davies, Hannah Blythyn, Eluned Morgan and Jeremy Miles have all earned their right foot spurs over eighteen months, now is their chance to earn their left foot ones. Each has a chunky enough portfolio to keep them occupied.

But what does their promotion mean to others on the Labour backbenches like Hefin David and Lee Waters?

It also must surely signal David Rees and Mike Hedges will never enter government, having been effectively generationally leapfrogged.

Linked to this is the newest old blood of all, Dafydd Elis Thomas who, after nearly half a century of public service, gets to be a minister at last.

And Minister for Fun too. Culture, Tourism and Sport is all the lolz and none of the awkward dealing with the controversial Welsh language legislation.

And it completes his morphing into a loyal member of the Labour benches, a process that began in shadow form in the 1970s.

Brexit

Thirdly, we have the restructuring of portfolios to bring greater focus and greater clarity to specific aspects of government.

The clear winner is here is Alun Davies, who gets a huge department in terms of Public Services, and now has wiped the record clean of the career stall of a few years ago.

Mark Drakeford, the new Cabinet Secretary for Finance, also gets to spend more time with his accounts and especially the European ones.

To have designated him Brexit Secretary would have damaged the First Minister, who does half that job these days.

It does look like Wales has its top team on Brexit and also dealing with the thorny issue of local government reform.

Allegations

The final motivator is clearly the most painful. Carl Sargeant has left government in the most damaging way I can recall.

The stalwart fixer and pilot of more legislation than any other government member in the past six years, his passing will be marked with sadness by many who worked with him and admired his directness and easy style.

But yet there are none of the usual twitter plaudits to a departing and popular minister. Accused of misconduct, he has had the Labour whip suspended and is awaiting a disciplinary hearing.

Nobody knows why, not least Sarge apparently. With such ambiguity and in the current climate, whatever the allegations against him are they will need to be strong to merit the kneecapping he has publicly endured (pun intended).

Carl’s brutal exile would have made it very difficult for many ministers to smile in the group photograph yesterday evening.

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JD
Guest
JD

Very interesting.

Willing to bet a £100 that Jane Hutt will resign by Christmas, triggering a by-election in the Vale of Glamorgan where either Leighton Andrews or Cerys Furlong will be conveniently parachuted in. After all, Leighton needs something to do and Cerys’ non-job at Chwarae Teg will come to an end as EU funding dries up.

Cosy little Labour Wales!

Neil McEvoy
Guest
Neil McEvoy

I could never get a straight answer out of Jane Hutt and I know many people found her replies embarrassing. To me, she typifies Labour in Wales. Who can forget her cost neutral re-organisation of our NHS, which cost £200m? As for Carl Sargeant, with his over the top and indeed faux feminism, he has actively opposed to the shared parenting agenda. Moreover, perhaps he will now reflect on his own use of smear, instead of fact. Due process matters.

Royston Jones
Guest

Didn’t Hutt make the progression from Third Sector to Labour AM?

That she held the job for so long merely exposes the paucity of talent available. A reliable and uninspiring plodder at best.

Capitalist and Welshnash
Guest
Capitalist and Welshnash

The skill with which Carwyn Jones has handled this has been almost to the level of an being an art-form. Plaid Cymru, this is what you are up against when you fight Labour. Labour has eliminated several threats before they even arose, with a quick singular, efficient move. Labour is the Establishment. Labour is Welsh conservatism and Welsh traditionalism. Welsh Labour is the party of inequality more than Welsh Conservatives can be because Welsh Labour is the party of power, because Welsh Labour has been the party of power for decades. This shifting in the cabinet has been brilliantly done… Read more »

Edeyrn
Guest
Edeyrn

“I give Carwyn Jones credit for skill when it’s due.” dont you get bored of saying these platitudes…when they dont even care what they think of us?

Politics has just become a managerial job….and we are being managed into total dependency…poverty rate is now at 35%

glasiad
Guest
glasiad

I felt a bit dismayed reading this article. Not because of its opinion, but rather its style and approach to Welsh politics. It follows the BBC / MSM technique of turning democratic politics into a kind of of gossipy soap opera, like the Big Brother show. It shifts our obsession over celebrities onto elected representatives. It’s an effective way to keep the demos diverted on trivialities while allowing the important issues to slip by unseen and away from public debate. You can do better nation.cymru!

Edeyrn
Guest
Edeyrn

Clywch Clywch……….politicians have beem managers with some acting duties….no one discusses concepts such as power/land ownership or wealth creation much with us plebs

Dafis
Guest
Dafis

” I felt a bit dismayed reading this article…….” what do you expect from a guy who makes his living out of the Lobbying/P.R pond that swills around A.M’s particularly those in the ruling clique ? Those parasitic people thrive on hot air, or creating it where it doesn’t already exist. They are the myth creators, thriving on rumour, gossip and innuendo which is then repackaged as fact.

Edeyrn
Guest
Edeyrn

As a voter who tries to pay attention to Welsh politics….half these people I dont even recognise.

People in power feel so terribly distant to me and I love politics…..what about other people not tuning in due to other life pressures?

Neb
Guest
Neb

Echoing a number of comments above,how about referring to some achievements of those named ?

Aside from Dafydd Êl lying to his constituency party in 2015 so he could get elected under Plaid’s banner,these people are nonentities.

I follow politics more than most people I know,and if asked “what do these people actually do ,or have done?”I honestly would find it difficult to name anything noteworthy such is the innefectual managerialism of the “welsh”Labour party