Stating the obvious?

"Meaningless guff" or a plan to make a "tangible difference to people's lives"? Opinions vary on Welsh Labour's programme for government.

The assembly election seems like a long time ago now but what we mainly have here is Labour's main manifesto pledges working their way into the mechanics of government.

Much has been made of the size. It's 15 pages long, a marked departure from previous efforts and an example of what was described to me as "retail politics."

The last programme was more than 50 pages long. We also used to have the annual progress report which contained an enormous 335 indicators and more than 500 commitments two years ago.

Tomes like these were clearly read by few people. Those who wrote them could never be accused of a lack of transparency but in reality it was anything but because of the sheer quantity of information.


After wading through a rainforest's worth of government documents in the past, brevity is to be welcomed but the opposition parties clearly think it's gone too far.

They don't agree on much these days but they all felt that there should be more detail and less of what some might call "stating the bleedin' obvious".

And there's no shortage of that - my particular favourite is: "Wales is engaged and connected to the wider world. We contribute to that world and are in turn shaped and influenced by it."

It's obvious there's a lack of detail but what's also obvious is that you are not going to get detailed plans for five years' worth of government in a 15 page document.

The opposition desperately wants to know answers to questions like where exactly the £100m to drive up school standards is going to go.

They also want to know how ministers plan to deal with the problem of recruitment in the NHS, and the programme for government doesn't give them the answers.

They'll just have to wait but presumably they won't have to wait long for some of the answers when the draft budget is published in a few weeks.

Then we'll get the first indication of how actual resources will match up with the aspirations of the government.