Back at the Senedd this week. It’s like starting a new Autumn term at school. That unmistakable crispness in the air as an equally unmistakeable cold chill blasts through the Welsh Economy.
With the financial markets reflecting worries about the Euro, there’s a feeling of worse news to come for the UK. What can be done to help protect Wales and indeed boost our job prospects against a background of international gloom?
It was this very topic that Plaid Cymru dealt with in their presser this morning.
Alun Ffred Jones, although not for one moment implying it was going to be easy , thought the answer could lie in making sure the Welsh Government spent more of its public procurement purse in Wales
Plaid estimates around four billion pounds is spent on procurement each year, so if even one billion of that could be targeted at Welsh companies, it would mean that the money would stay in the Welsh economy, hopefully boosting Welsh jobs.
But it seems to me there is a flaw with this idea. Surely, with budgets tight, our Welsh Government must be sure of getting the best value for money. If this means spending outside Wales surely this must be what’s required? As one colleague in the lobby suggested, the WG could insist that local labour is used on new projects here in Wales.
And what of Enterprise Zones here in Wales? Already there are mumblings. Liberal Democrat Peter Black is saying that Swansea should be included. He says
“The creation of an Enterprise Zone in Swansea around the high technology and engineering work coming out of the Life Science Institute at the University and proposed for the second campus would have proved a major benefit in attracting high quality, well paid jobs to the area.”
And economist Dylan Jones Evans says he believes there should be an enterprise zone around Cardiff Wales Airport. He’s been tweeting
“Why an enterprise zone for aerospace in St Athan and not Cardiff Airport? Why automotive in Ebbw Vale not Bridgend ?
Meanwhile, flags are flying at half mast at the Senedd as a tribute to the four miners who lost their lives in the Swansea Valley pit disaster.
There will also be a minute’s silence in plenary today out of respect for these men and their families.
And it’s First Minister’s questions today! What will that bring ? Will Andrew RT Davies, the rumbustious leader of the Welsh Conservatives at the Senedd, stir things up? Or will he take a more sedate approach?
Will our First Minister Carwyn Jones go it alone for the full term ? With no coalition partners to share the responsibility, the FM will be in a much more exposed position when it comes to taking the flak from the opposition.
So it’s a very interesting time for Labour. We will be interviewing Peter Hain on this point and other matters, including how boundary changes may affect the party, in Sharp End this Thursday.
Our guests this week are Alison Goldsworthy, a senior Executive from the Liberal Democrats who will be able to fill us in on her party’s conference this week, and new Chair of Plaid Cymru Helen Mary Jones, who will be talking to us about Plaid’s fortunes as a new term gets under way.
I can’t wait!