Preparing for the crunch ahead

Image caption Dark skies for the Welsh economy

Apologies. Christmas has not come early.

I've been caught in the pincer of what the BBC is calling "Crunch Christmas" - a week of pieces looking at inflation, unemployment and retail price figures that will, I suspect, tell you what you've worked out already: times are tough.

To that list I'll add another set of figures that will tell us in Wales a great deal - regional Gross Value Added figures. If you're up for a night of swotting in preparation for some compare and contrast in the morning, here are last year's figures. We'll see how 2010 measured up for the Welsh economy compared with other parts of the UK at half past nine tomorrow.

In the meantime - Carwyn Jones has been putting pen to paper to the Prime Minister once again - this time in the wake of last weekend's European summit.

His concern - that the UK Government's decision not to sign up to a new European treaty could fuel the independence movement in Scotland.

Leaving aside the slight incongruity of a pro-devolutionist First Minister lecturing a Unionist Prime Minister about the dangers of the breakup of the Union, it's clear that the Welsh Government is increasingly turning its mind to where Wales might stand in a UK where Scotland, if not fully independent, is standing alone in all but name.

Mr Jones also makes clear his fears for Wales' position too:

"For the first time, I am now seriously concerned about whether the interests of Wales can be advanced effectively in Europe by the UK Government. For those of us who are committed to the United Kingdom, and the place of the UK within the European Union, this is a deeply concerning position to be in."

Perhaps the First Minister is looking down the tracks and seeing a much bigger pincer coming his way.

Tomorrow is also a red letter day for another reason - explained here in another, somewhat less impassioned letter from Carwyn Jones, this time to the Deputy First Minister. The Queen will officially approve the new Welsh Seal, to be affixed to all new pieces of Assembly legislation.

One suspects a bit of history and tradition will be more than welcome in such an uncertain world.