Carwyn Jones has today (14th March) reshuffled his Cabinet. Two years after the May 2011 election, the First Minister felt it was the time to make some changes. But only limited changes. This was not about bringing in new blood, refreshing the team, or renewing the vision.
Only one minister seemed to be under significant pressure – Lesley Griffiths as Health Minister has had to work hard to sell the need to reconfigure the health service in Wales, and though her commitment is clear, this still remains a very difficult task. Why reshuffle Lesley, as any new Health Minister would have to follow the same very hard path? The First Minister has calculated that bringing in Mark Drakeford will help strengthen relationships across the sector, and that Mark will be able to better defend the changes needed. Not a natural combatant, there are few people in Wales more insightful, and no one who know the Health Department better.
Other than Mark’s promotion direct to the hot seat, there were no new entrants. Reshuffles in Wales are never as dramatic or as regular as in London, there is a legal limit of 12 ministers and Carwyn is reluctant to fire long-serving colleagues
Edwina Hart and Leighton Andrews have consolidated their positions as the big beasts within Cabinet. Both are strong characters, and in different ways can get things done in government. Edwina adds to her portfolio with transport.
Alun Davies was the obvious promotion choice, and he moves from Deputy Minister to take on the Environment brief. A good
There is a lot of change in Huw Lewis’ new portfolio, which includes lots of cross-cutting themes like poverty, children and sustainable development. Huw takes responsibility for dealing with the impact of Welfare Reform and will relish the poverty focus. Carl Sargeant will take through the new Planning Bill as part of his Housing and Regeneration Portfolios.
John Griffiths takes on a smaller portfolio – with Culture and Sport recreated as a Department.
Jeff Cuthbert picks up Technology – this sits within Edwina’s department, so he becomes a junior minister in two different departments.
With limit of 12 ministers and deputy minister, there was no opportunity to bring in fresh blood without shedding if first. Vaughan Gething and Ken Skates will have to wait a bit longer. In 18 months time, he will reshuffle out those AMs not standing again, like Gwenda Thomas, and he will have a freer hand.
- First Minister: Carwyn Jones
- Minister for Economy, Science and Transport: Edwina Hart
- Minister for Education: Leighton Andrews
- Minister for Natural Resources and Food: Alun Davies.
- Minister for Health and Social Services: Mark Drakeford
- Minister for Local Government: Lesley Griffiths
- Minister for Culture and Sport: John Griffiths
- Finance Minister: Jane Hutt
- Communities and Tackling Poverty: Huw Lewis
- Housing and Regeneration: Carl Sargeant
- Chief Whip: Janice Gregory
- Counsel General: Theo Huckle
- Skills and Technology: Jeff Cuthbert
- Social Services: Gwenda Thomas