Just over a month after the election and we now know who all the party spokespeople are in each party. These are the ‘Shadow Ministers’ or topic specialists that hold the Welsh Government’s individual Ministers to account. There’s been some interesting changes. Here are a few worth noting:
With one extra AM over the Welsh Conservatives, Plaid inched themselves to being the main opposition party, thus technically being the only one to have ‘Shadow Ministers’. With some new faces in the party, Rhun ap Iorwerth (Ynys Môn)(PC) has moved from business and the economy to health and social care, letting Adam Price (Carmarthen East & Dinefwr)(PC) take on business, economy and finance. Their former health spokesperson, Elin Jones (Ceredigion)(PC) was elected as Presiding Officer.
Education has gone from Simon Thomas (Mid & West Wales)(PC) to Llyr Huws Gruffydd (North Wales)(PC). Sian Gwenllian (Arfon)(PC) takes up local government, a busy brief at reorganisation comes back on the agenda in the next 12 months, and Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas (Dwyfor Meirionnydd)(PC) takes up ‘government liaison and the constitution’. Given that this is a minority government with which Plaid will liaise extensively, this is a particularly interesting role for the veteran AM.
The Welsh Conservatives didn’t see any new faces, they’ve just lost a few from the Fourth Assembly. But they’ve substantially mixed up the portfolios, with Darren Millar (Clwyd West)(Con) and Angela Burns (Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire)(Con) swapping health and education so Burns is on health and Millar now on education.
David Melding (South Wales Central)(Con) has been welcomed back into the fold after this term as Deputy Presiding Officer in the Fourth Assembly; he takes on environment, sustainability, housing and the Wales Bill. His knowledge should be an asset on the latter especially.
Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy)(Con) keeps local government; Mark Isherwood (North Wales)(Con) keeps communities and Russell George (Montgomeryshire)(Con) moves away from agriculture and the environment to the economy, tourism, transport and sport. Paul Davies (Preseli Pembrokeshire)(Con) takes on rural affairs.
Last but not least, UKIP announced their spokespeople amidst a row between UKIP Wales Leader Nathan Gill (North Wales)(UKIP) and Assembly Group Leader Neil Hamilton (Mid & West Wales)(UKIP) on what their policy was on the M4 (Gill’s manifesto said the blue route, Hamilton decided the ‘black route was better than no route’).
So it’s no surprise that there was no spokesperson job for Nathan Gill, with Hamilton insisting he did not have time to alongside his MEP role. His dual role may change after the EU referendum. The issue is that if Gill steps down, it has to be filled either by Caroline Jones (South Wales West)(UKIP) or David Rowlands (South Wales East)(UKIP), two other AMs.
For the other portfolios, Caroline Jones is on health, keeping her role from the election campaign, and finance is shared jointly between Neil Hamilton and Mark Reckless (South Wales East)(UKIP). Michelle Brown (North Wales)(UKIP) takes communities and housing whilst Gareth Bennett (South Wales Central)(UKIP) is on local government.
Here’s the full list of spokespeople positions as of 13/06/2016:
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