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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 19:16 GMT 20:16 UK
Morgan goes from pomp to politics
John Stevenson
By John Stevenson
Political reporter

The Queen is applauded in the Senedd

Earlier in the week it was all about the pomp and ceremony in Cardiff Bay.

Now, six weeks after the assembly election, Rhodri Morgan finally gets down to the creative task of governing Wales by minority government.

In his speech to the Senedd, Mr Morgan announced his government's legislative programme for the coming year,

Nine pieces of legislation are in the year's work programme, six of which will be drafted under a new mechanism in the Government of Wales Act 2006 enabling the assembly to initiate the transfer in certain areas of legislative power from Parliament.

"Whether such a progressive policy programme can be translated into action is a matter of political will and political skill," Mr Morgan told AMs.

"As far as this administration is concerned, I make it clear that such a political will exists and will be demonstrated in the way we go about the business of government."

LABOUR'S PRIORITIES
Rhodri Morgan
Tackling child poverty and assisting vulnerable children
Environmental protection and waste management
Additional learning
Charges for home care and other non-residential social services
Affordable housing
Welsh language

When Mr Morgan talks about needing political will and skill to translate what he refers to as "a progressive political programme" into action, what he really means is finding a working way forward with two of the three opposition parties.

Since the new political reality dawned on Labour that it could govern only with the consent of Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats, Rhodri Morgan has gone out of his way to make conciliatory noises.

For him, the sub-text of government for the foreseeable future has to be to ensure that the opposition fail to find common cause which unites them to force a vote of no confidence.

His announcement mirrors two facts: first, that the Government of Wales Act has changed fundamentally the assembly's prowess in the field of legislation.

Common cause

Second, that the election result forces Labour to find as much common cause with the other parties as possible to carry through its programme.

The six areas Labour has chosen to focus on cover tackling child poverty and assisting vulnerable children, environmental protection, waste management, additional learning, home care and other non-residential social services, affordable housing and the Welsh language.

It also wants three "assembly measures" using existing powers already devolved to give greater rights to patients through an "NHS redress measure," reform the 14-19 curriculum, and school transport.

Mr Morgan told the Senedd: "I am sure that all Assembly Members will wish to play a constructive part in these debates and in helping to create the flow of legislative competence transferred from Westminster to Wales, which the proper discharge of our devolved responsibilities requires."

That raises the issue of how far Labour has managed to provide a list which will spur all the parties to work for the common good.

A look at the first reaction from Opposition leaders suggests, as that other consummate magician Paul Daniels, said: "Not a lot."

For Plaid Cymru, Ieuan Wyn Jones implied that he didn't think that Labour had changed its spots and for the Liberal Democrats, Mike German criticised the lack of ambition in the legislative programme.

Looks as if they are squaring up for a fight to me.

One political sage once said of the party holding the reins that it may well be in government but wasn't really in power.

Time will tell if that is also true of Rhodri Morgan and Welsh Labour.




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