The war of words gets louder

He ended the last First Ministerial briefing of this political year with a "Merry Christmas all" but not before Carwyn Jones had sent a flinty message to London.

There've been a few of them recently.

Take this - a plea not to change the way we elect Assembly Members in future. The name on the envelope was David Cameron's and not, you will have spotted, the Welsh Secretary's. The inference? If you want your voice heard in Westminster, go to the boss.

Cheryl Gillan smarted in private.

Then came yesterday's complaint that eight days after the Chancellor had signed, sealed and delivered his Autumn Statement to parliament, Welsh Ministers were still none the wiser how much extra money they actually have to spend on day to day matters, in other words by how much their revenue budgets had been boosted.

We need clarity, was the mantra. A source close to Mrs Gillan was fed up with the "highly confrontational" attitude coming from Cardiff.

Today, came that clarity. As a result of George Osborne's announcement Wales gets an extra £26.2m in the next financial year. In 2013/14 that turns into a minus, a minus £0.5 followed by another year where there will be less, not more - £4.2m less. That gives you a total of £21.5m over three years.

That was not the First Minister's problem, however. His problem - and that of those around him - is that Scotland, over the same period, gets some £69m. How come, came the question? Apply the Barnett Formula - the formula that decides how much money each nation gets as its share of the overall pot - and Mr Salmond's ministers ought not to be getting so much more than Wales.

Except Carwyn Jones went further. "There is some financial chicanery going on and we want to get to the bottom of it". Bear in mind that the man is a trained barrister, one who will know that 'chicanery' - to you and me - means sharp practice, deception even.

If that Whitehall source was fed up yesterday, today they are 'hacked off". In fact: "We're now pretty hacked off with the First Minister and his colleagues constantly complaining they haven't got the money for this or the powers to do this. They have got the money - they've got £15 billion to spend. It's time the First Minister stopped behaving like an opposition politician, showed some guts and leadership and got on with his job.

"We're heartily fed up with all this now".

Apologies, then, for adding a few other of the FM's comments for good measure. Better out, than in.

The reference to the Barnett Formula led to mention of the Silk Commission - and an aside that Mr Jones knew its remit very well because "I wrote it, personally".

The inference? If you want something done, don't leave it to the Wales Office.

And another aside was dropped, neatly, in our laps, a reference to "banging on the door of Number Ten."

The inference? If you want Wales' voice heard in Westminster ... You're getting the picture.

From Whitehall comes a heavy sigh, a quick scan of the figures, the formula and a flinty response of their own:

"The formula has been applied in this case in exactly the way it has always been - including by the previous government."

How many days til Christmas?