A worry about Wales

The political landscape of Wales didn’t change that much last week. We saw a rise in the number of UKIP AMs, as discussed by my colleague Jamie earlier this week, but Labour still hold the largest number of seats and until yesterday looked likely to run a minority government with Carwyn Jones as First Minister.

But in steps Leanne Wood , who has surprised many over the last year. Given immense exposure during the General Election debates, she has become more of a household name than any of her predecessors and enjoys huge personal ratings in Wales – the highest of any party leader.

Surprising really bearing in mind this is not translated into similar success in the polls – unlike their Scottish counterparts, Plaid Cymru have failed to translate disaffection with the Labour Party and the Westminster Government into more seats, and thus more power.

Welsh politicians, on the back of the Smith Commission, demanded more powers to be devolved to Cardiff and they have succeeded in some areas. However, the ability to run an effective Assembly is called into doubt if the newly elected AMs allow party politics to get in the way of appointing a First Minister – surely with the largest number of seats this would fall to the Labour Party. It appears not, and the discussions (wrangling) have gone on since the deadlock yesterday.

This afternoon Nathan Gill, UKIP’s leader in Wales but not the leader of its Assembly group, has apparently thrown his support behind Carwyn Jones, possibly with Mark Reckless. This would allow Jones to be re-instated as First Minister and allow AMs to get on with the business of Government.

But at what price? Does this damage the reputation of the Welsh Assembly? Does it raise doubts about their ability to take on further powers?

I am not sure it does; no more than when the main political parties entered into negotiations after the 2010 General Election. It is a fact of political life that what parties promise in their manifestos is not always what is implemented and I am sure the Welsh electorate would prefer this sorry saga to be done with so that last week’s election can be put to bed once and for all.