The week in Westminster: a half-term report

Madeleine Moon MP
Image caption Free from her darkened room: Madeleine Moon caught the prime minister's attention with her tweet.

It is one of the unwritten rules of covering parliament that the week before any recess tends to be busier than most.

This week has confirmed the rule. Monday's lengthy House of Lords debate on the Trade Union Bill was enlivened by the leak of a letter from Skills Minister Nick Boles admitting that the UK government's legal advice on its continuing argument with the Welsh government was "very weak".

Labour peers didn't push their amendments to a vote but anyone reading the Boles letter would probably deduce that a ministerial climbdown is on the way, particularly on the "check-off" system under which employers deduct system union membership dues from union members' salaries and pass them to the unions.

Image caption Tweet: Madeleine Moon's view on Labour's defence changes

I spent most of Tuesday on the fall-out from Monday night's Parliamentary Labour Party meeting, and Madeleine Moon's "Oh dear, oh dear, omg, oh dear" tweet about Emily Thornberry's performance at the PLP. David Cameron found it so amusing he used it as ammunition during prime minister's questions on Wednesday.

The UK government's decision to review the Swansea tidal lagoon proposal made headlines on Wednesday too. Energy Minister Lord Bourne announced the review - less than two years after tweeting: "Very useful mtg on Swansea Tidal Lagoon. It will be good news for Swansea, Wales and UK - glimpse of cleaner, brighter future. #SwanseaLagoon".

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'The best PM since Attlee' - Jim Callaghan recalled

Lord Callaghan of Cardiff
Image caption 'The most important Englishman in the politics of Wales since Mr Gladstone' - Lord Callaghan of Cardiff

If you're interested in politics and have a spare hour, you could do a lot worse than watch this lecture on the last Welsh MP to occupy 10 Downing Street.

Jim Callaghan, who died in 2005 aged 92, was a Cardiff MP between 1945 and 1987 when he went to the House of Lords.

Read full article 'The best PM since Attlee' - Jim Callaghan recalled

Labour split over EU referendum timing

Alan Johnson MP
Image caption 'Labour will be supporting a June referendum' - Alan Johnson of 'Labour In for Britain'

A week is a long time in politics. On January 27, First Minister and Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones, with other Welsh party leaders, signed a letter to the prime minister urging him not to hold the EU referendum in June.

It would, they said, create "the potential for confusion as a diverse range of issues is presented to the electorate" facing assembly elections on May 5.

Read full article Labour split over EU referendum timing

Ogmore by-election: some possible runners and riders

Huw Irranca-Davies MP
Image caption The retiring Huw Irranca-Davies, who is leaving Westminster to stand for the National Assembly for Wales

They might need a pencil sharpener or two in Ogmore. Voters there are likely to be busy on May 5, choosing a police and crime commissioner, a constituency AM, regional AMs and a new MP.

The latter vacancy will be caused by the decision of Huw Irranca-Davies to leave Westminster in search of a seat in the National Assembly for Wales. The parliamentary by-election is likely to be held on the same day.

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The EU referendum: how will your MP vote?

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb Image copyright Wales Office
Image caption Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb telling Cardiff Business Club he's not 'a bought and paid for member of the EU fan club'

How will your MP vote in the EU referendum?

It's a straightforward enough question. Politicians have opinions on most political issues, so why are some so shy about sharing their views on the biggest political question in UK politics of 2016?

Read full article The EU referendum: how will your MP vote?

Day of the long ballots: voters face 'unwieldy' papers

The EU referendum ballot paper Image copyright None
Image caption The EU referendum ballot paper - a bilingual version will be used in Wales.

Voting fever is taking over Westminster. Well, up to a point. The publication of some of the rules for the EU referendum has fuelled speculation it will be held on June 23 - and prompted further protests about the proximity of that date to the devolved elections on May 5.

A cross-party letter signed by First Minister Carwyn Jones has been sent to the prime minister warning: "The simultaneous existence of multiple party political campaigns and EU referendum campaigns would in itself pose practical and logistical difficulties, but the greater problem we anticipate is the potential for confusion as a diverse range of issues is presented to the electorate.

Read full article Day of the long ballots: voters face 'unwieldy' papers

Tax row on menu as Osborne has Welsh Tories for lunch

David Davies MP
Image caption Running late: David Davies, one of five Welsh Tory MPs unhappy with George Osborne's decision, rushes to get to the meeting with the chancellor.

I counted them all in and I counted them all out. Welsh Conservative MPs (minus Guto Bebb) met George Osborne over lunchtime sandwiches and crisps in Downing Street.

It was, as we are routinely told, a routine meeting. They discussed the proposed "city deal" for Cardiff, the Swansea tidal lagoon project ("we're trying to make it work" said one MP), rail electrification.

Read full article Tax row on menu as Osborne has Welsh Tories for lunch

Labour report: election result in Wales 'disappointing'

Chris Ruane
Image caption Chris Ruane lost his Vale of Clwyd seat at the election, and sat on the Labour taskforce on the lessons of defeat.

Labour has just published its "learning the lessons from defeat taskforce report" - how and why it lost the 2015 general election.

This is what the taskforce, chaired by former acting leader Dame Margaret Beckett, says about Wales:

Read full article Labour report: election result in Wales 'disappointing'

The Duke of Wellington, Stephen Crabb and Donald Trump

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb
Image caption Taking your calls: Scottish-born Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb

If a man be born in a stable, said the Duke of Wellington, it does not make him a horse.

That is not an argument that would convince Gail from Neath, one of the callers to the Jason Mohammad show on BBC Radio Wales on Monday.

Read full article The Duke of Wellington, Stephen Crabb and Donald Trump

Draft Wales Bill: MPs prepare to deliver their verdict

The National Assembly for Wales has spoken. AMs have demanded a series of changes to the UK government's blueprint for the future of devolution.

Conservative AMs joined in the calls for Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb to re-write his draft Wales Bill, which appeared occasionally friendless during Wednesday's debate on a report written by an assembly committee.

Image caption The Welsh affairs committee - and its (self-penned) job description

Read full article Draft Wales Bill: MPs prepare to deliver their verdict