Politics and pay packets

I understand there was no discussion of the Welsh Conservatives' proposal to slash the higher rate of income tax, as well as the basic rate, among the party's assembly members before the announcement was made last week.

The first one Tory AM heard about a policy they'll be expected to talk about in-depth in debates and on the doorstep over the next six months was by watching the news.

The Conservative group at the assembly will have a chance to discuss what has become a headline-grabbing policy at its weekly meeting on Tuesday morning in Cardiff Bay.

It certainly had the desired effect of throwing into sharp focus the potentially new dynamic that the partial devolution of income tax without a referendum could have on politics at the assembly.

The Conservatives will now for the first time be able to go into the election campaign promising to improve the take-home pay of voters' wages.


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Lenin or lemmings?

Lenin Image copyright AP
Image caption Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin

I'm blaming a bad phone line for misquoting the leader of Newport council Bob Bright when he accused the Welsh government of acting Lenin-like with the publication of new legislation to re-organise councils.

He later tweeted me to point out that he had actually said "lemming-like".

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Spending priorities

The First Minister has just held his last news conference of 2015, so did we learn anything new?

The first point to make is that we were given a strong indication that spending in health and schools will be protected in next year's budget.

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The future of Betsi

Does Betsi Cadwaldr University Health Board have a future?

The First Minister hinted that it could be broken up if Labour is still in power after the assembly election next year.

Read full article The future of Betsi

Future for steel

The talks on the steel industry in Cardiff Bay today are being held co-incidentally at the same time as Tata steel's board meeting in Mumbai.

Without wishing to downplay the gathering of union officials, steel bosses and the economy minister Edwina Hart, I think it's fair to say that I'd prefer to be a fly on the wall in India to get an idea of what's in store for thousands of Welsh steel workers.

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Plenty of focus on new commissioner

The appointment of the new future generations commissioner was always going to attract plenty of attention.

It's a position which pays £95,000 a year and runs for a seven year term.

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Land deal - the central issue

The assembly's public accounts committee was due to hear key evidence this week for a second time from Chris Munday, the Welsh government civil servant and the man who designed a way of funding regeneration schemes by selling off some of the most valuable land the government owned.

It has been delayed while the committee considers all the evidence it has had so far in its inquiry into the biggest sale of public land in Wales in recent years.

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Rhetoric ramped up on constitution

The Senedd

The Conservative Cardiff North MP Craig Williams ramped up the rhetoric on the constitution when he said on Sunday Politics Wales: "If we had the same emotion when Betsi Cadwaldr was put into a support stage for the next two years.

"If we had the same emotion around the NHS and education, I would have a bit more time for the first finister.

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Plaid aims to present credible NHS plan

Leanne Wood and Nicola Sturgeon at the 2015 Plaid Cymru conference
Image caption Leanne Wood welcomed SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to the conference

One Plaid Cymru member told me at the conference in Aberystwyth that while the Conservatives may have already created a narrative of Labour failures in the NHS, it was his party which has come up with the credible alternative plan.

The doorstep message will be dealing with dementia, diagnostics and more doctors, rather than dealing with medium-term major structural change, which is also part of the package.

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Coalition and cost questions for Plaid Cymru

This is the first Plaid Cymru conference in years where the NHS has been made the priority.

It's a reflection of where we are in the electoral cycle.

Read full article Coalition and cost questions for Plaid Cymru