Politicians rush to claim credit for railway plans
- 18 July 2012
- From the section Wales politics
The Commons is eerily deserted. MPs have departed to spend more time with their constituents. The Lords will soldier on until next Wednesday but the silly season is almost upon us.
For once, the summer term ended on good news, with cross-party support for the decision to electrify the Great Western line rail line all the way to Swansea and commuter lines in the South Wales Valleys and the Vale of Glamorgan.
It must be good news because everyone has been trying to claim the credit for an announcement made by the UK transport secretary, Justine Greening.
The secretary of state for Wales, Cheryl Gillan, understandably perhaps, staked her own claim for a share of the plaudits for a decision so important "monumental" briefly replaced "historic" as the adjective used to describe anything in Welsh politics that is vaguely significant. She even allowed herself to be pictured in a first class carriage celebrating an announcement which exceeded earlier expectations in its breadth.
Mrs Gillan's Labour shadow, Owen Smith, said: "Particular mention should go to the Welsh government minister, Carl Sargeant, and his team, for the work they undertook in making a rock solid business case for this investment."
Mr Sargeant himself put modesty aside to claim: "Today I am glad to be able to report that I have secured electrification not only of the Great Western main line onwards from Cardiff to Swansea, but also electrification of all the Valley lines."
His statement borrowed from the template of Oscar acceptance speech: "I would like to pay tribute to the positive contributions made to this project by the secretary of state for transport in Westminster, Network Rail, the transport team in Welsh government and the Welsh businesses, AMs, MPs, local authorities and interest groups who lobbied so effectively."
He may have left someone out there, but Cheryl Gillan is possibly sufficiently thick-skinned not to have noticed.
He also forgot his former cabinet colleague, Ieuan Wyn Jones. Fortunately, Plaid Cymru were happy to remedy that omission.
Lest we forget, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have pointed out that they too have been "lobbying very hard" on the issue.
Peter Black AM said: "This is very welcome news indeed and more than justifies the cross party campaign that was assembled by Chris Holley when he was council leader."
Perhaps, as the Western Mail suggested, it really was "Team Wales" that won it. If only finding out who is responsible for late-running trains were so easy.