Seven Sisters to Severn Barrage


One of the first - if not the very first - phone call I got on being made BBC Wales Political Editor was from Peter Hain, the then Secretary of State for Wales. He wished me well, then added that he hoped I'd approach the job with fairness uppermost in my mind. I assured him I would.

The first thing I did was store his mobile number. The second thing, to note that he's a man who is political to his fingertips and a shrewd player of the Westminster and wider game.

It may have been, as his adviser put it this morning, the worst kept secret in Welsh politics that Peter Hain was planning to step down from the Shadow Cabinet before the next reshuffle - but to do what? Now we know. From Seven Sisters to the Severn Barrage, as a colleague put it.

It's not every politician who gets to choose the time of his departure from frontline politics (for now). Mr Hain got to make that choice and true to form, planned carefully the manner of the announcement.

He remains MP for Neath and will fight the next election. He remains a big beast in the Welsh political jungle. He remains a huge force in Welsh Labour, they'll make no mistake about that in Cardiff Bay. It's just that that force will be now be focussed on Peter Hain the campaigner, making the Severn Barrage, or the 'controversial Severn Barrage' as it's usually known, happen.

Who'll take over his job?

There is a long list of possibles: Kevin Brennan, Chris Bryant, Huw Irranca Davies, Nia Griffith are all on it and were all there or thereabouts in the early twitter action from Westminster. That won't come as a surprise to you, or, you suspect, to them. Owen Smith is on the list too. He may be relatively new to Westminster but if the Severn Barrage attracts words like 'controversial,' Mr Smith tends to be called 'uber-competent' and 'impressive'.

We're told it's unlikely we'll get an answer today.

And should Labour win the next election, Mr Hain's resignation letter makes it quite clear that he'd fancy a comeback to frontline politics - if one's on offer. The experience he's about to gain, fighting for the barrage, would perhaps be relevant, ventured Mr Hain.

What was that? Political to his fingertips and a shrewd player of the game.

Betsan Powys, Political editor, Wales Article written by Betsan Powys Betsan Powys Former political editor, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    JT re barrage viable.
    in 2010 the electricity generated in UK was equiv to 28,230 thousand tonnes oil equiv, 5% is 1411 1000's toe.

    UK market price for electricity is about £55 MWh. Simple payback just over 33 years , not including ongoing maintenance, plant replacement etc. and any revenue costs, e.g. wages. interest on loans.

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    Comment number 44.

    Alf, As I wrote, I use Nats as shorthand for those who, in my opinion, support, too enthusiastically, a minority of a minority.
    The German lot in the coloured shirts used a similar short form but had a rather different set of beliefs.
    In fact, as I have written here, I think that the Welsh 'Nats' problem will be their lack of a common ideology if they ever get independence. Socialist republic???

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    I'm not sure how resigning can help his cause in promoting the barage, surely more clout if he remains there. Perhaps Glyn T has touched on it at 40, but I'm not so sure.
    One thing is for certain though, it aint being done for the benefit of others!

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    John thank you and I hope that is all that will be licked. Though I think I get your gist. Glyndo. Forward is the way to go, unlike Wales. At least we don't have to go trawling through Post Pages to get to the up to date ones now.
    GlynT. My point exactly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Why are the comments now newest first? A conterintuitive way of presenting them. Why no option to reverse the order?


Comments 5 of 45



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