The assembly campaign so far

The assembly campaign is well and truly underway, but it doesn't really feel like it because of the domination of external events.

The parties have set out some policies and in Plaid's case, a manifesto, but by and large they have spent more time responding to stories than setting out their various programmes for government.

We all knew this would be a campaign that would have to run alongside the EU referendum, what we weren't expecting was the steel crisis, a ministerial resignation over welfare, problems for the circuit of Wales and now details in the Panama papers which have led to senior politicians publishing their tax returns.

Presumably at some point the constant stream of stories will dry up, and we'll start to see more of a conventional campaign with devolved policies coming to the forefront.

Opposition parties are dismayed that stories like steel have allowed Labour to escape scrutiny on their record in power, particularly over health. They are desperate for the agenda to change.


Labour say they didn't choose events like the steel crisis to happen and are trying to respond in a responsible way.

Plaid have so far been the only party to publish their manifesto. It includes some aggressive targets for efficiency savings across the public sector, but the NHS in particular.

That, together with the proposal for a major re-organisation, means they are likely to have the most ambitious set of policies heading into the election. It's a combination that could work for and against them.

We haven't had Labour's manifesto yet but the pledges so far have been around relatively safe territory like free childcare, business rate relief and apprentices.

On the NHS, Mark Drakeford said in a Wales Report debate that Labour would combine reform with keeping the ship "steady as she goes."

The only sniff of a new policy in recent days from Labour came during my interview with Carwyn Jones for Wales Today when he ruled out means-testing for university tuition fees.

A few words on the latest YouGov poll for ITV Wales: the usual health warnings apply but the trend is showing a slide in support for the Conservatives in recent months and a marginal increase for Plaid which means they've edged into second place.

It also re-inforces the remarkable rise in support for UKIP in the polls. The latest projection has them with eight seats, despite the in-fighting that's been a recurring them in UKIP in Wales in recent months.

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