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Going on like this

Betsan Powys | 11:26 UK time, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

CameronPoster.jpgSeen one of these?

If you live in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and bits of the country the Conservatives think they can win like Aberconwy, Delyn and the Vale of Clwyd then there's a fair chance you have. I passed one this morning in Llandaff North. Heads were turning to check out Mr Cameron's face - his very best youthful, yet authoritative look - and the message alongside it:

"We can't go on like this.
I'll cut the deficit, not the NHS".

Consider the General Election campaign well and truly underway.

An Email arrives from Mr Cameron: "What do you want to ask me about the NHS?"

How about ... given health is a devolved matter, does it make sense to put these posters up in Wales at all?

Only asking but think about it this way. The Conservatives could win every single seat in Wales and beat Labour hands down in a General Election but the Health Minister in charge of the NHS in Wales the next morning would still be Labour's Edwina Hart. She gives and takes orders on health policy based on a mandate that comes from the Assembly, not Westminster.

So when Mr Cameron vies for votes by saying he'll cut the deficit, not the NHS - in other words he'll protect health spending come what may - what he means is that he'll protect health spending in England. People of Llandaff North and beyond, make note.

Does the Tory leader's pledge have a direct impact on the NHS in Wales? Well, yes and no. Let's start with the 'yes'. If money spent on the NHS in England is ringfenced then the knock on effect of the way the Treasury funds the Assembly is that a significant part of the overall amount of money handed over to Wales is ringfenced too.

Then the 'no'. The Welsh government can spend the money they get from the Treasury as they will. They don't have to spend it a particular proportion of it on health.

Labour could put up huge posters of Gordon Brown over the coming weeks with a pledge to "finance a new right for cancer patients to have diagnostic tests carried out, completed and with results - often same day results - within one week of seeing your GP. That is our early diagnosis guarantee, building on our current guarantee of only two weeks wait to see a specialist".

Now yes, granted, they'd come up with something shorter and catchier and they probably wouldn't go for a huge shot of Mr Brown alongside it. But I'm quoting from an eye-catching, vote-winning pledge, or so Labour hope ... that is only relevant in England.

So come on then, does it make sense for the Conservatives to put up the Cameron/NHS posters in Wales?

Does it matter when any number of those who spot them will decide how to vote based on the picture of the man next to the pledge, not the pledge itself?

Does it matter that this election campaign will be fought on some key pledges that are, in fact, pretty meaningless to us?

Your vote counts as much as the next man's but the man on the poster's pledge? Ah, well .... that's a bit more complicated.


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