Welsh government record under the spotlight

  • 3 June 2014
  • From the section Wales
  • comments
Media captionCarwyn Jones said the report showed the Welsh government was open about its progress

This is the third annual progress report by the Welsh government but it comes at a time when its record is under more scrutiny than any previous years.

Since the last one, Wales has slipped further behind in the Pisa education league rankings.

And the ink is just about dry on a damning report into standards of care at hospitals in Neath and Bridgend which was the latest in a series of problems affecting the NHS.

The context is also different this time round.

I don't think anyone could have predicted a year ago the extent to which the record of the Welsh government on delivering public services was going to be scrutinised in the way it has been by the Conservatives at Westminster and the London-based press.

If you print out the progress report, it amounts to nearly 500 pages.

The question is whether anything is achieved by having one.

More serious accusations

I just interviewed Carwyn Jones on BBC Wales Today and asked him whether the public gain anything by having more than 300 indicators published when what most people want is strong performance in a relatively small number of key areas like NHS waiting times and school exam results.

He said it showed his government was transparent.

This could be a response to some of the more serious accusations in recent months that Welsh government ministers don't like proper scrutiny.

The big focus was on the economy, particularly the record on dealing with youth unemployment.

Carwyn Jones used to spend much of his time criticising the austerity measures imposed by the UK coalition government.

These days he spends a lot less time criticising the measures, less time talking about Ed Miliband's cost of living crisis and more time trying to take ownership of the impressive unemployment figures Wales is seeing at the moment.

On the broader subject of public service delivery, the progress report has done nothing to challenge the views of any of his political opponents.

I spoke to Andrew RT Davies and Leanne Wood after the debate.

These are two individuals who don't often agree but they were united in describing it as a complete waste of time.

Ultimately, of course, Carwyn Jones won't be concerned about what they think, but instead what voters think.

I suspect very few of them will be reading his third progress report but he hopes it will somehow inform their thinking when they come to judge him in two years' time.