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Watching them ... watching us

Betsan Powys | 14:03 UK time, Tuesday, 22 September 2009

To First Minister's Questions.

There were seats to spare in the public gallery but not very many.

There were some empty seats in the chamber but not very many.

A collector's item for those who made it - a well attended FMQs.

The mood was magnanimous. Plaid's Leanne Wood wished the First Minister a happy retirement. She was being, he said, a bit previous. He didn't dwell on how previous. Immediately to his right, Edwina Hart had her head down. Carwyn Jones to her right didn't flinch. Huw Lewis was out of earshot, politely chatting to a group of visitors - putting the people first.

The Financial Times got an honourable mention at least half a dozen times. Its "glowing" reference to the ProAct scheme - designed to prevent redundancies - is probably already in a frame and on an office wall somewhere on the fifth floor.

Magnanimous, did I say? More like "self-congratulatory" to the ears of Conservative Alun Cairns. What about the 116,000 people in Wales who were out of a job? What good was praise in the Financial Times to them? Not fair, sighed the First Minister. Praise for the ProAct and ReAct schemes was praise for the Welsh Manufacturers Forum who came up with the idea - not a self-congratulatory pat on the back for the government. They'd simply spotted it was a good idea and made it work - unlike the Liberal Democrats, came a swipe from somewhere, 'one of the smaller groups in this chamber' who'd pelted it with criticism, talked it down.

He shook his head sadly. Kirsty Williams shook hers. Alun Cairns shook his too for good measure.

AMs, as usual, typed away furiously. Two or three were browsing BBC news pages. I have good news for them - and for you. In future you'll all be able to click on this and watch what's going on as it happens. It's a brand new service that will grow and grow over the coming weeks and months, letting you watch them ... watching us ...

Let me know what you think.


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