Today, tomorrow and Today.


When should you stop wishing people a happy new year?

Not the most pressing problem facing Carwyn Jones in January 2013 maybe but one he grappled with briefly this morning - before taking on the more sticky issues coming his way, the sort of 'sticky' that can cling to governments and cause ministers to, well, come unstuck.

Tomorrow we find out just how the Hywel Dda local health board has decided its services must be reconfigured. Tomorrow we won't be talking about 'gearing up' to change in West and in Mid Wales. We won't be talking about the prospect of change. This will be the real thing, the sort of change that saves a lot of money by closing some services and centralising them in fewer, larger hospitals.

Then on Friday we'll do it all over again, except this time it's the people of North Wales who'll find out what their local health board has decided and what, if you receive your care from the Betsi Cadwaladr LHC - "centralisation" means. You'll find out which doors will close, which will open and how that is going to affect your care.

We'll hear the words fewer, better, more specialised, more efficient, safter too uttered by those who've made the decisions. We'll hear too far, too risky, too driven by cost cutting from those afraid of the implications of those decisions for their parents, their children, themselves. And we'll keep hearing David Cameron homing in on - and questioning - the state of the NHS in Wales under Labour

Then, there's education.

Big territory, big sticky issues. So let's narrow it down and take a look at these extracts from a letter sent to the Children and Young People Committee and to the Education Minister this week. It's from the Welsh Joint Education Committee, a body that last year found out what happens when you don't do as the Minister tells you. He orders you to do as he tells you.

It's a body of officials who must be wondering whether they are long for this world. Who regulates the qualifications young people gain in Wales, how the whole sector is organised structurally, what those qualifications should be are all matters up for discussion. More decisions to be taken in 2013 - and the WJEC wants its voice heard.

It's not against change and welcomes much of what's been recommended. But in the letter its Chief Executive refers to "several real concerns" about the way the government is going about implementing them: "there is potential to do immense damage by getting this wrong."

It'll be got right - or wrong - in 2013.

The biggest matter of all? The one the Housing Minister, Huw Lewis, described this morning as the UK government having "its hand on our throats". What will Carwyn Jones and his government do when the arguments over social "fairness" and changes to benefits are increasingly felt in pounds and pence and pockets in 2013? Will they stick to the approach they've taken so far and took to the wire at the end of 2012? That they feel the pain of those losing council tax benefit, that they condemn the UK government for making the cut but argue they just don't have the money to ease the pain?

Tomorrow, you may get answers to some of those questions. I'm not pinning all my hopes on First Minister's Questions - oh no I'm not - but tune in to Today on Radio 4 at 8.30am or thereabouts to hear the First Minister facing up to 2013, happy or otherwise.

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

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  • rate this

    Comment number 28.


    Don't get democratically elected and do a job which you are very well paid for and you can become a member of the House of Lords.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.


    Obviously my years of teaching both in the private and comprehensive schools makes me not qualified to comment?? and I beg to your superior knowledge.Take the South East of the equation and there is not much difference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    I sometimes get the feeling that the problem is 'democracy'. Have the Chinese got it right? Should we shift to a 'meritocracy' and bypass all this party political angst?

    Just think, no 'loony lefties', no 'Welsh nashies', no 'nasty Tories', no 'Liberal thingys', no nothing in fact, just good, solid governance by the best possible team in the best possible interests of Wales.



  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    20 Boxer
    A sad but true comment. The question is "what will make people care"?

    Certainly not the likes of Huw Lewis with his "its (the UK gov) hands on our throats" comment. To his credit, CJ when interviewed on Radio 4 this morning, gave luke warm support to Lewis. Pity then that CJ failed to deal with the issue of Council tax Benefit in a timely and proper way

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    "When should you stop wishing people a happy new year?"

    When you don't mean it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    #9 'Who has ruined the infastructure in Wales for all of that period ?'

    What infrastructure was that, Alf ? A drovers track north through Builth Wells ? You could justly indict politicians for faiing to provide it, or to improve it but you can't ruin what was never there. I suppose you could argue that whoever built the Head of the Valleys as a 3-lane deathtrap ruined a good idea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    19 Woodsey - How many times has Labour held a majority in the WA?
    You might know that Wales also has a private education sector. Impact? Do you really believe that the English take easier exams?
    I used the 80's as, up until that time, by any measure Wales compared favourably to most English regions. Why did we fall behind when the recovery came in the mid 90's?

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    18 Boxer I agree about steel and you could add in coal. But other parts of the UK which also had a heavy reliance on those industries have moved on. We have not - and if you look at the UK recovery from the mid 90's on Wales was left behind and continue now continues to fall further behind

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    In the 80s, many miners had a strong work ethic, and a strong motivation to get their sons through education to avoid working underground.
    In the era of third-generation unemployed, and graduates on the dole, the work ethic in schools and communities is damaged. 'What's the Point ?' rules.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Your grasp of education system is very weak! Take the private schools out of the stats and the rest of UK is no different. Also look at how English schools present their data. e.g. BTECs etc. Withdrawing students from exams and placing them on a much easier course. There are stats and dam lies. Was the 80.s good??? Not if you were a miner.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    #17 'the 80s..Wales ..had a stronger GDP than many partsof the UK'
    John - it had an iron and steel industry. Much as I would like to blame Mrs T, look at the Ruhr, the Sahr, Scunthorpe, Yorkshire, Liege. The World changed, and I&S in high-labour-cost economies became non-viable. Wales had a bigger I&S sector so suffered more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Alf/Woodsey your grasp on Welsh politics is very weak.
    When has Labour in the WA had an absolute majority? The damage done to Wales by the WA has been done with the collusion of PC and the Lib/Dems. And no I do not exclude the tories.

    Look back only to the 80's - Wales had a respected education system and a stronger GDP than many parts of the UK. Our problems stem from 1990's onwards

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    ... alf, the distinct lack of debate from the administration is a symptom of our poor politics, there is little need to debate.

    With this in mind, why have such a large contingency of politicians, Carwyn acts the Caesar, should he (or his elected successor) not be a Caesar, a small administration that devolves government further to the local authorities.

    It might be more effective ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Apologies correction!
    Assembly cost £41m py

    AM "salary" £53,000 py......still Scrap it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Assembly cost £411m py

    AM "salary" £53,000 py

    Scrap it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Indy2010 you are sort of correct Cardiff did prepare for it, they knew how much they would get to assist in keeping council tax frozen & decided what they would spend it on forcing council tax up

    That on top years of cutting the grant to councils from 85% to 80% & revaluation, whilst (Barnet) went up in real terms by 123% allowing WAG to keep £Ms for their own plans


  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Valley-Red. Your alternative is what. Sorry if we are boring you. John What about the distinct lack of debate from the Governing Party. Especially from its glorious Leader. A very poor example of governance as you say. Because Labour are the Government and you will be voting for them again. That is what is wrong in Wales. Vote for someone to stop someone else not for efficient government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    ... you are not getting away with that alf, whilst it's true that Labour has been gifted political power in Wales this last decade, the elected remainder is culpable because of the distinct lack of debate, too much effort in "Nation" building, too little in the management of resources (budgets), a very poor example of governance ...

    ... though Carwyn will have my vote at the next election!

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    There seems to be a lot of political point scoring here, but a distinct lack of any alternative (whether informed or not).

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    John who has been in charge in Wales for the last decade. Who has been in charge of Councils in Wales for decades before that. What exactly have they done here even when the same Party was in control at Westminster. Who has made Wales the backwater it is. Who has ruined the infastructer in Wales for all of that period. Yep you've got it. Labour.


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