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Betsan Powys | 11:52 UK time, Wednesday, 18 August 2010

....'find out what it means to... erm... Welsh politicians'. It doesn't scan quite as well as Aretha's line but as everyone's looking back at a 100 days since the UK coalition set about its business, it's a good opportunity to assess how the so-called 'respect agenda'' between the UK and Assembly governments is coming along.

In fact "established a mutual respect agenda" appears on the UK government's list of it's "achievements in the first 100 days".

I don't know how you measure success in "establishing an agenda" but David Cameron and Nick Clegg seem to think it's going pretty well. But note, it's a "mutual" agenda which suggests that respect is flowing freely in both directions along the M4 - despite the odd constitutional roadblock.

Things got off to a shaky start with the spat between the First Minister and Carwyn Jones and Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan about the timing of a referendum on further Assembly powers.

Undeterred Cheryl Gillan addressed AMs in June, with references aplenty to the new spirit of respect in Westminster-Wales relations.

Since then, there's been the odd exchange over the Assembly Government's bid for powers over housing, and Nick Clegg's plan to have a referendum on changing the voting system for the UK general election on the same day as the Assembly election.

Conservative AM and MP Alun Cairns is full of praise for the approach adopted by Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan. He says she's showing plenty of respect towards Ministers in Cardiff Bay but that it hasn't always been "mutual". It's clear that many Conservatives also think that it's a pretty effective tactic in disarming political opponents.

Respect sounds nice, says Labour MP and former Assembly First Secretary Alun Michael, but it's likely to come a cropper when the reality of spending cuts hit the Assembly government's budget. That will become clearer after October's Comprehensive Spending Review.

The next 100 days may make it even more difficult for both sides to show a little respect - even just a little bit.


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