No easy times

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Media captionEd Miliband spoke to Nick Servini on the campaign trail in south Wales

The state of the public finances has dominated much of the debate in the general election campaign so far.

The big question is how cuts will affect the delivery of public services.

Most of those services are delivered by the Welsh government so, when I went to interview the Labour leader Ed Miliband at a question time event in Barry, I wanted to get an idea of what would happen to the budgets for health and education if he becomes Prime Minister.

The context here is that the Welsh government has repeatedly blamed problems in the delivery of services on Conservative-led cuts.

The Labour position in the campaign is that the Welsh government would get around £350m a year extra as a result of a number of new taxes, such as the mansion tax on properties worth more than £2m and the re-introduction of the 50p tax rate on incomes above £150,000.

Look at books

In fact when Labour's Welsh manifesto was launched in Llandudno, the extra figure for Wales was £375m.

But whether it's £350m or £375m, the crucial point is whether that will be extra money or if it just makes up a shortfall caused by any cuts elsewhere implemented by a new Labour government.

The party is refusing to say what those cuts will be until it's had a look at the books. If elected, it will set out its plan in a comprehensive spending review later in the year.

The shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith says either way, Wales will be quids in.

On Tuesday, Ed Miliband refused to commit to this, saying it would depend on decisions made in government, adding: "I will not promise easy times."

One thing I think we can conclude is that if Labour takes power, then the funding floodgates will not be opened immediately for Welsh public services.

Labour has accused the Conservatives of coming up with unfunded commitments so he's clearly wary of doing the same in relation to Wales.

That said, Mr Miliband may be running a minority government dependent on the support of the nationalist parties which would suggest he will have to provide generous settlements for Wales and Scotland.

He will also have to be mindful of next year's assembly elections and presumably want to provide a settlement that will help Labour in Wales and Scotland in those votes, although it's difficult to work out what kind of shape Labour will be in Scotland on May 8.

This is important because if there's a Labour government, the dynamic between Wales and Whitehall will change dramatically.

'Blame game'

A big excuse for the Welsh government the next time a health target is missed will have been removed.

Even if ministers in Cardiff Bay may feel they want more money, it's likely they won't be protesting publicly in the way they do now against Conservative-led cuts.

The Tories insist the "blame game" from Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay has been unjustified as they protected spending on health, which they claim the Welsh government then failed to do.

Plaid Cymru is sticking with its position that the Welsh government should receive an extra £1.2bn a year to achieve parity with Scotland, while the Lib Dems insist their plan to protect spending on the NHS would provide protection for Wales.

I should remind everyone this is an election about Westminster, rather than Cardiff Bay, but the winner will have a huge impact on devolved politics.