'Yes Minister' - the importance of civil servants

 

There have been some fascinating elements to the Alun Davies story.

For a start it revealed the importance of ministers getting on with their civil servants.

As the former minister for natural resources and food discovered, senior officials can cause you all sorts of problems if they're unhappy.

What stood out in the email between civil servants revealing the concerns one official had about Alun Davies's requests for information about the five AMs' CAP payments was how he had verbally repeated the request despite being made aware of the concerns.

Towards the end of the email, the unnamed civil servant wrote: "Given the week we have all just endured, I would be very grateful for your view on this."

The week in question was of course the week after it emerged Alun Davies had broken the ministerial code by lobbying in favour of a race track in his constituency.

Carwyn Jones said he told him he was on the edge of a cliff because of that and it remains probably the single most remarkable feature of the story that Alun Davies made the request for controversial information at 0937 the morning after he had narrowly survived in the job.

The racetrack row and the request for details of the opposition AMs have one thing in common, which is an inability to separate the wider responsibility that comes with being a government minister and actions representing a particular constituency or a particular party.

Door closed

That seems to be it now.

The opposition debate at the assembly on whether an independent adjudicator should play a role in future cases like this was a particularly muted affair.

The first minister appears to have taken the sting out of some angry opposition voices with his claim that the system is working.

And then there's the future of Alun Davies. His role as a constituency AM appears to be safe in that he's keeping the Labour whip and there have been no obvious critical voices in his Blaenau Gwent constituency.

What is clear is that unlike other high profile departures of government ministers such as Huw Lewis and Leighton Andrews, where the door was left open for a possible return, the door in this instance has been firmly closed.

As Carwyn Jones said: "If I offer somebody what is effectively a second chance, I don't expect them to throw it out of the window."

 
Nick Servini Article written by Nick Servini Nick Servini Political editor, Wales

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