Part 4/4. The Top Ten Worst Welsh Politicians 2011.
1. Carwyn Jones.
What a year it has been for Carwyn, groundbreaking referendums followed by an election result which, although far from being a landslide, was certainly enough to allow him to take his Labour party off on his own. With long time partners Plaid kicked to the sidings, and of course, the new powers afforded to him through the referendum which it might be said that he took the lead on (though off course everyone in Plaid Cymru would firmly disagree with), one might have thought that this was the year that Carwyn would shine. After all, having taken on the reigns from Rhodri, Carwyn was seen as the leader elect long before his party put him in that position – he was the great future of the Welsh political landscape. Yet, can we say that we have been anything other than bitterly disappointed in Carwyn’s period of rule?
As with a number of the political figure to make this list, it is not so much a case that Carwyn has done anything wrong, but the want for him to have done something right, or interesting, or relevant, is almost painful now. It really has been a year of apathy from the man in charge, and on more than one occasion, the joke has rumbled around the pages of twitter and such, that somebody needed to nudge Carwyn awake – such was the level of inactivity from the top.
What can we be excited about in Wales then under Carwyn? Organ transplant reform? Well, it might happen, in several years, maybe a decade, yes, it might happen. There was the landmark law change on plastic bags which Carwyn outlawed, to some extent, well, he put a charge on them at least, but at least it was original thinking (if you overlooked the fact that lots of other nations have already done it, but still it’s something new in Wales at least). Erm, oh yes, Labour won back some £9m in compensation for Wales being utterly screwed over thanks to the Olympics, though probably best not mention the £100m+ that Wales is still out of pocket by. Of course, the odd firmly written letter to Downing Street was sent in the post, and how the halls of Westminster must have trembled when Carwyn’s letter flopped through the post box. Yet, the lack of any response from London regarding Carwyn’s yelping is put into stark contract by the chattering stimulated by Scottish activity, and this is perhaps where Carwyn’s true failings can be seen.
Scotland has been heard of – almost on a weekly basis the ‘national’ newspapers carry something on the movements of Scottish politics, or the worried responses of Westminster politicians in response to Scottish developments. Even in Wales, the future of Welsh politics is spoken of only in relation to Scotland. If Scotland did this then…, if Scotland did that than Wales might do…, yet we are not Scotland, and with the powers at our disposal, should we not be generating headlines of our own, rather than relying on some notional ‘Celtic’ allies to do the work for us?
Wales needs to be seen. For all the excitement over 5p plastic bags and hypothetical organ donation law changes (and some in the nation really do need to be reminded that nothing has changed, or will do anytime soon, on this law), you can’t help but feel that Carwyn really hasn’t done much this year. Perhaps a certain comfort has been found in the leaders seat, and with the referendum gone, any sense of urgency seems to have followed it. Carwyn is certainly not a bad leader, but he is an apathetic one, and that is often as damaging in the impacts of political stagnation, as the actions of one who is inept and incompetent. 2012 must see something new and something exciting come from Carwyn, otherwise this term of government will fast become remembered for very little worth remembering having happened.