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100 days =

Betsan Powys | 12:50 UK time, Thursday, 18 March 2010

You'll know I'm a great fan of Tenby. You may know too that it was a Welshman from Tenby who invented this: =. In 1557 Robert Recorde, yes, that really was his surname, came up with the equals sign.

Let's try it out.

100 = ?

100 days of a new First Minister = what?

On the eve of Carwyn Jones' official 100 days in office, I'm sure I can rely on you to come up with your own solutions to that particular brainteaser.

The people of Porthcawl had a go for tonight's Dragon's Eye. Their responses don't put Carwyn Jones at the top of the class. They vay from "it's nice to have a younger man in charge" to "I've not seen much of him but he's probably getting on with it behind the scenes". Such faith. Who said the public were disillusioned with politicians. There's a school girl who worries her grandmother will tell her off because she can't put a name to the First Minister's familiar face.

"If I tell you it's Carwyn ..."
"It's Jones".

Another older voter reckons Mr Jones has done a lot for Bridgend: "I'll give him that". But to lead the country? You need someone strong, he says, you need someone to take on the huge problems we face. His version of the formula? 100 days of Carwyn Jones = not bad but just now? That's not enough.

As a nation we are, as a sharp-minded and sharp-tongued friend put it this morning "sicker, thicker, fatter and poorer" than the rest of the UK. Question her analysis at your peril unless you enjoy dancing on the head of a pin.

Yesterday, 99 days into Carwyn Jones' stewardship of the Assembly Government, we learn that the unemployment rate in Wales is still higher than any other nation. It stands at 9.2% compared with 7.8% in England. The UK average is 7.8%. 9.2% is only beaten by the English North East (9.5%) and West Midlands (9.5%). Throw the most recent GVA figures in the pot and there you have it: "poorer."

Is there very much Carwyn Jones, or come to that any First Minister could have to done to change that in a hundred days? No. Could he have sounded a bit more concerned about it, absolutely determined to tackle it? Probably. The First Minister has a style that 100 days on you'd probably describe as sanguine. Soothing. Not very Scottish Salmond. The Conservatives, naturally, have another word for it: complacent.

Back to the maths.

100 days = an unanimous vote in the referendum trigger vote - the one and only day that I've seen the First Minister furiously focused, knowing he had to deliver an unanimous vote and fired up when he'd delivered it. (Not so fired up when it came to delivering the official news of the vote to the Wales Office you might argue ...)

100 days = being seen at the climate change summit in Copenhagen.

100 days = appointing a Chief Scientific Officer.

Is that it?

Let me add one significant element to the formula.

100 days = a new readiness to shake up some of the policies established and regarded as totemic even by the previous regime, to swap dainty shoes (or should that be stilettoes) for a pair of boots perhaps? Top of the list? Communities First. You've seen the headlines. Yes, the finger is well and truly pointed at the Assembly Government for failing to act sooner, for not keeping a close enough eye on the millions they've spent under the Communities First banner. But Carl Sargeant is now going in where others had feared to tread and he'll be doing that with the blessing of the new boss.

100 days = See also Leighton Andrews, rewarded with the plum job of education and in the words of Francis Urquhart, not afraid to put a bit of stick about. He's started a few things. Let's see where they are in two, or three hundred days' time.

So class: 100 days = ?


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