Just a few points to update you with so far today.
The Welsh Government met Plaid Cymru last night (Wednesday) following a similar meeting with the Liberal Democrats on Tuesday.
There’s no official word on how the meeting went. A Welsh Government source would only say,
We are not providing a running commentary on these discussions.
As you know, Plaid is pushing for a ‘package of emergency measures’ to boost the economy. Party sources claim that at the meeting, the government continued to show ‘no realisation of the job that needs to be done.’
Whatever the truth of the matter Plaid figures have been floating the notion that the Welsh Government may not actually be looking for a deal and will table an unamended budget on Tuesday.
Opposition sources had also suggested that Labour had entered into the discussions intending only to negotiate on the £39m Treasury money. A Welsh Government source gave that short shrift:
it has never been the case that discussions have only focused on the £38.9 million consequential money. Plaid need to be more proactive in their approach.
I’ve been trying to find other clues where I can.
I’ve interviewed the Education Minister Leighton Andrews for tonight’s Sharp End. The bulk of the interview is about the introduction of school banding, but I asked him if he would have any problems with his budget being changed to reflect the Lib Dem priority of increasing spending on schools. He said,
I’m not going to comment on the budget discussions … any departmental minister would welcome more money for their department.
Is the education budget set in stone?
I have set out a budget with the co-operation of the Minister for Finance, the First Minster and other cabinet colleagues which implements the Welsh Labour manifesto. We have a series of commitments on education which we intend to implement and we will implement that manifesto.
Would he be comfortable with his budget being changed?
I’m certain any discussions on the budget will not result in Welsh Labour giving up on any of its manifesto commitments.
Will there be a deal?
I’m certain that at the end of the day, the Welsh Government will have a budget approved by the National Assembly.
I may have more to tell you before tonight’s Sharp End. I’ll be interviewing the Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones shortly and I’ll update this blog after that.
My guests on tonight’s programme, by the way, will be Labour MEP Derek Vaughan and Plaid’s MEP and party president, Jill Evans. They’ll be joined by the former headteacher Mal Davies.
Esyllt Carr has been looking at school banding and I’ve been asking the Education minister Leighton Andrews about it too.
Join us at 2235 ITV1 Wales.