Lib Dem AM takes role in Labour cabinet – is this a new era of co-operation?

Kirsty Williams, the new Welsh cabinet secretary for Education.

Kirsty Williams, the new Welsh cabinet secretary for Education.

Kirsty Williams was voted back in as Assembly Member for Brecon and Radnorshire by 52.4 per cent of those who voted, here in Brecon and Radnorshire – a clear majority.

This Writer knows that it was a negative vote rather than a positive – people who would have voted Labour or Conservative supported her because they absolutely did not want the candidate fielded by the Conservatives to get anywhere, and they absolutely did not want UKIP to gain a foothold in Mid Wales.

They succeeded in the former and failed in the latter.

I had considered the result a wasted opportunity. Ms Williams had run a negative campaign – attacking her opponents in election literature – and it seemed unfair to reward her for such behaviour by giving her another chance. Also, she was now the only Liberal Democrat in the Welsh Assembly – what could she possibly achieve?

Now she has been appointed as a member of the Labour cabinet.

Perhaps I should consider this turnaround as a salutary lesson for me; never count someone out until they’re out.

Or perhaps I should consider it an opportunity. The AM my neighbours supported is in the Welsh cabinet and has a chance to affect the Welsh political life after all.

And she has been given the Education brief, which I consider hugely appropriate. Ms Williams spoke very well about Powys County Council’s abominable plans for our schools, teachers and pupils, and now she has a chance to ensure that her constituency – along with all of Wales – gets a better deal.

It’s also a dangerous place to be, of course.

Giving Ms Williams an important brief like this also means giving her an opportunity to fail – and if she does, she’ll fail spectacularly.

That would have serious implications for the future of young people across her constituency and beyond.

So, today I find myself in the contradictory position of hoping a Liberal Democrat I didn’t support has every success in her new job.

Let’s hope she proves an asset to the country after all.

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones last night confirmed his new frontbench, including a place for Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams. Labour denied the move constituted a formal coalition, and stated that it was committed to fulfilling the manifesto it was elected on, but said that there was need for greater “constructive collaboration” in the Assembly.

This follows days of talks with Plaid Cymru, the new official opposition, which led to an agreement not to pursue any legislation in the first 100 days while an effort to develop a tougher scrutiny and committee procedure for new laws is developed.

Jones last night conducted his reshuffle, handing the education brief to Williams, in a move he says heralds “a new era for Welsh politics”. As she was the only Lib Dem elected on May 5, her appointment still leaves Labour two short of an overall majority in the Senedd, but does ensure that Jones’ frontbench has a 50/50 gender split.

Source: Jones hails “new era” for Welsh politics as Lib Dem takes up role in Labour Cabinet | LabourList


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