Carwyn: bogus, inept ... or worse?

One very odd thing about today's Welsh Government reshuffle is the health portfolio.

Only last week, Carwyn Jones announced that he was going to take the controversial Betsi Cadwaladr UHB reorganization decision personally. The reason he gave was that the proposed changes affected Lesley Griffiths' own constituency, resulting in a conflict of interest. These are his actual words:

"Just to make it clear, I will be taking that decision, because the minister herself has a constituency within the Betsi Cadwaladr Board area."

Wales Online, 15 March 2013

Even if that reason held water before, it certainly doesn't now. So what will happen? As there is no longer any conflict of interest, will Carwyn now hand the decision back to the new health minister Mark Drakeford?

•  If he doesn't, it means that the reason he gave last week was completely bogus.

•  But if he does, it means that last week's announcement was completely unnecessary. Or, to be more precise, means it was unnecessary if he knew that he was going to reshuffle his cabinet now. It would show him to be inept.

Neither of these reflects particularly well on his leadership.


But there is another factor at play. At a guess, I would say that Carwyn actually intended to make the reshuffle not now, but after the matter of the health reorganization had been decided in a few weeks' or months' time. It would have allowed the new health minister to start the job with a clean slate.

The only explanation that makes sense to me is that Lesley Griffiths was not at all happy that Carwyn had chosen to take these decisions away from her. Presiding over health reorganization—or to put it more bluntly, health cuts—is an unenviable and thankless task, and the very least she could have expected was that she would be able to make the final decisions by herself.

I think Carwyn disagreed with the decisions she was about to make and therefore took it out of her hands, leaving her with no choice but to resign. That forced him into making the reshuffle sooner than he had wanted to.

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