The Loss Leader

Last week I said that what the Tories lack in principle, they often make up for in pragmatism. A perfect example of that trait unfolded this evening. Vaughan Roderick gave us the first insight with this one-liner:

Mae Llywodraeth y Cynulliad wedi ennill ei brwydr ynghylch yr LCO Tai.

But Tom Bodden filled in the details in this post:

U-turn or S-bend?

... Last week, with a newly-installed Conservative-Lib Dem Government at Westminster, Welsh Minister David Jones, Clwyd West, announced he had reached an agreement with WAG to amend the [Housing] LCO, withdrawing the abolition [of the right to buy] power.

Plaid's deputy housing minister Jocelyn Davies admitted her 'disappointment and frustration' that further delay could scupper the order, preventing the rest of the powers passing along the M4. Baby out with bath water to continue the plumbing metaphor, so to speak.

Having reluctantly agreed to the amendments, she received a phone call from Mr Jones on Friday admitting that there was insufficient time to make the changes at Westminster and that the LCO should proceed intact.

It's all 'in pursuance of the spirit of mutual respect', an important aspect of the ConLib coalition relationship with Cardiff.

Tory leader in the Assembly Nick Bourne said: "Cheryl (Gillan Welsh secretary) has made the decision that's going through unamended because of procedural difficulties but quite rightly in pursuance of the respect agenda, Cheryl has said without hesitation it has got to go through without amendment."

Jocelyn Davies confessed yesterday that the motivation didn't concern her so much as the decision which would enable the Labour-Plaid government in Wales to deliver a pledge to act on housing.

Gog in the Bay, 29 June 2010

But when you look at the facts in more detail, several things don't quite stack up. If Cheryl Gillan could say "without hesitation" that the draft Housing LCO had to go through without amendment, one can only wonder why the Tories did not let it go through as part of the wash-up just before the Westminster election ... or indeed why David Jones has just wasted the last few weeks proposing the amendments to it.

Mind you, the Tories have managed to get this sorted out after only a few weeks in power. If it hadn't been for Labour's internal differences, the Housing LCO could have been passed a couple of years ago.


But there are no prizes for guessing what the method in this Tory madness is. If they can con us into believing that they will pass all LCO requests without the refusals and delays that characterized the approach of Labour MPs when they were in power at Westminster, they will then be able to argue that the LCO process is just fine as it is ... and that we don't need to get rid of it.

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Anonymous said...

Perhaps. You may well be correct. On the other hand doesn't the fact that so few MPs want to serve on the Select Committee for Welsh Affairs - and that Labour sacrificed the Chair of that Committee for the sake of something they view as 'more important'- suggest an alternative reading? Namely that Westminster simply cannot be bothered with the whole nonsense of the LCO process?

Hendre said...

And is this David Jones being put in his place by his SoS? I noticed in an interview that Cheryl Gillan referred to the 'Wales Office' not the 'Welsh Office'.

Unknown said...

This could just be seen as a mean minded slap in the face from David Jones to Jocelyn Davies. Had he discussed this with his boss at all before he started his posturing?

MH said...

The BBC's version of the story is here. I did look for it last night, but must have missed it. Great photo of David Jones looking very grumpy. David Jones' statement is here.

I don't think it's a question of Jones being "put in his place". Perhaps it was just a cock-up. They wanted to amend it, but someone had set a deadline that it had to get through the next Privy Council, and there was no time to make the changes they wanted. Faced with that, they had no choice but to spin it as "respect".

As for Wales Office and Welsh Office, I couldn't give a damn. I notice that David Jones' press releases speak of him as a Welsh Office minister. But the official name, the website, and presumably the name on the door and stationery, all say Wales Office. It would be madness to spend money to change it ... but the Tories are prone to bouts of madness. Andrew Lansley is living proof of change for the sake of image.

As for MPs not caring about LCOs, bear in mind that the WASG has yet to be formed. Now in opposition, a lot of Labour MPs will have nothing else to do and will naturally turn to trying to influence the Assembly from "on high". They won't have any power, but they are sure to make as much noise and general mischief as they can. CoP summed it up perfectly here.

Anonymous said...

Anon. "....Labour sacrificed the Chair of that Committee for the sake of something they view as 'more important'..."

Owen Smith, Susan Elan Jones, Jessica Morden, Nia Griffith and Geraint Davies are the Labour party members of the new Welsh affairs committee. I think we should consider the barrel well and truly scraped.


Hendre said...

The Wales/Welsh Office business does seem to be a bit of a personal thing for David Jones. His argument that Welsh Office is less 'colonial' than Wales Office is unconvincing!

I'm going be lazy and ask if anyone can tell me what the procedure was for deciding on the chairs of select committees (I haven't seen it anywhere) and who would have decided within Labour that the chair of Welsh select could be transferrd to the Conservatives?

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