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The Monday list

Betsan Powys | 10:11 UK time, Monday, 10 May 2010

So as the dust settles on the voting - if not yet the result - perhaps it's time to provide us all with a handy checklist of the kind of issues that got rather drowned out during the campaign but are going to be significant here in Wales over the coming weeks and months.

No I don't mean cleaning the house and reminding the children they have a mother too: I mean the other significant isues. Thanks to the marathon broadcasts and the no-you-can't-switch-off-yet nature of this election they're in what I'll call a "stream of consciousness" style, starting with the biggest issue without a shadow of a doubt, which is...

1. PUBLIC SPENDING AND THE WELSH BLOCK GRANT

It's number 1A on the agenda for whichever administration takes power. It's top of the list because the implications for Wales are pretty massive.

Remember we're already seeing reduction in some areas of the block grant this year compared to last year. The colour and make-up of the new government will determine whether it falls further this year, or we start to feel the real pain in the next financial year.

The Liberal Democrats made a new deal stimulus package for green jobs one of the centrepieces of their manifesto, which would have delivered an extra £125m to the Welsh budget. However there wasn't much in the way of detail as to how that would be paid for and the Conservatives made in-year spending cuts an even more high profile part of their prospectus for Government.

The shadow chancellor George Osborne made Wales a sort of afterthought offer he thought it couldn't refuse - to delay the impact of any spending cuts this year until next. We'd asked why the offer had been made in Scotland in recognition of the fact the government there had already agreed its budget but not in Wales ... and were told pretty sharpish that Wales could have the same offer too. It's fair to say it received a pretty lukewarm response behind the scenes from the Assembly Government, who doubted whether an offer made via briefing to journalists would ever amount to a cast-iron offer, and who fear the hammer blow of having to make up this year's cuts on top of the deep cuts which will come from 2011-12 onwards. A Labour-led administration would start the cuts next year, but whoever's in charge, there's also the key question of what proportion of any spending reductions in Whitehall will be passed on to Wales. Much of this will depend on the negotiating skills at the Cabinet table of the...

2. NEW SECRETARY OF STATE:

A few variables here: with the Tories (at least at this point on Monday morning) seemingly in pole position to form a government, the obvious candidate is the Shadow Welsh Secretary, Cheryl Gillan. She's already held preliminary talks with First Minister Carwyn Jones but it's by no means a done deal that she'll occupy Gwydyr House if the Tories take office. A - let's choose my words carefully here - less than stellar election campaign won't have helped her cause. (Yes, the same could be said of Plaid's Elfyn Llwyd and the Liberal Democrats' Roger Williams but they're not up for a job; Peter Hain's "savage cuts" mantra wins that particular contest, given it seemed to be be brutally effective on the doorstep in many areas).

So it's possible that Jonathan Evans, who scraped home in Cardiff North, could be in line for the Welsh Cabinet seat, although Mr Cameron might choose to deploy his talents as a junior minister in the Home or Justice portfolios. Whoever is the new occupant of the Wales Office (or as David Jones MP would have it again, the Welsh Office) the relationship with the Assembly Government will be absolutely key, not least in terms of the...

3. REFERENDUM ON FURTHER POWERS

See what I mean about stream of consciousness?

A team has been beavering away in the Wales Office since the First Minister's letter was received following the Assembly's "trigger" vote in February. No one outside those four walls knows how far they've got and the 120 days for the Order to be drawn up and laid before parliament expires in mid June.

There's a growing feeling that the political uncertainty in Westminster caused by the hung parliament has effectively done for the Autumn referendum option (if it hadn't been done for before, that is). Very few people want another general election in the autumn, but the new electoral maths means it has to be a possibility, which would make calling a referendum on further powers in the middle if it highly risky. Plus there's the question of parliamentary time to get the Order through before the Summer recess, which shouldn't be underestimated. And a new Secretary of State, should there be one, may well want to take their time in terms of getting the wording of the question and at the administrative arrangements for the poll right.

Whatever happens, the clamour from Wales for a referendum on further powers is only likely to increase, particularly in the wake of the debacle over the...

4. HOUSING LCO

Which remains, as it has spent most of its unhappy existence, in legislative limbo. There is approaching zero chance that a new Tory administration would be prepared to let it through having effectively blocked it in the dying days of the last Parliament. Would it be a priority for a incoming government of a different hue? And will the presence of a current and another former AM on the back benches have any impact on the smoother passage of LCOs? Such as Glyn Davies and ...

5. ALUN CAIRNS

Now one of a very rare breed: a dual mandate politician. Double jobbing, as it became known rather pejoratively during the expenses scandal, came in for some scathing criticism from Sir Christopher Kelly, the man charged with looking into the whole affair and making recommendations to sort it out. In an interview following his election in the early hours of Friday, Mr Cairns said categorically that he would be tendering his resignation as an Assembly Member to the party's management board immediately and it would be for them to decide what happened next.

If the second on the list were a man the party was ready to welcome with open arms, there would be no problem. I think it's fair to say that he is not.

Watch this space.

UPDATE

More what-if thoughts on the role of a Welsh/Scottish Secretary should there be a Tory/Lib Dem deal here.

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