First Minister at film studios

It was appropriate that Carwyn Jones held his monthly news conference at the new Pinewood studios on an industrial stretch of the Gwent levels between Cardiff and Newport.

For those who know the area, it's on the site of the large wind turbine that can be seen for miles around.

Pinewood is the name behind Bond and the prospect of 007 scenes being filmed in the Senedd chamber clearly got a number of Assembly Members excited and their disappointment was there for all to see when they found out that the Assembly Commission had declined the offer.

Anyway, despite the location, the First Minister was going no-where near the row this morning, saying the first he heard about it was on the news.

Instead he was there to confirm that a remake of the fantasy comic-book film The Crow will be the first to take place on the Gwent levels.

Inward investment

He also said that provisional figures on inward investment for the financial year just coming to an end showed it was another record-breaking year with more than 80 projects.

To be clear, these figures show the number of projects alone. The number of jobs created or safeguarded will become apparent in the summer.

Broadly speaking, the number of jobs created through inward investment now is not as high as the days of the WDA but as a Welsh government spokesman said to me, the kind of jobs we're talking about now are more likely to be paying £45,000 or £50,000, rather than £15,000 or £20,000 which was the case 20 years ago.

Inward investment has become one of the poster-boys of the Welsh government's economic development record and we can expect another significant development over the next few days.

A question I put to the First Minister, who as the leader of Welsh Labour is the leader of the party's general election campaign, is how he squares this message of economic success with the typical Labour message on the doorstep that the Conservatives are damaging the economy?


The message from the First Minister is often that he's turning round the Welsh economy through inward investment and the employment scheme Jobs Growth Wales.

Surely that must blunt Labour's general election message that the Conservatives are failing to deal with the cost of living crisis because they've created a two-tier economy.

His answer is that the Welsh government is succeeding despite, rather than with, the help of the Conservative-led coalition in Westminster.

An unofficial truce has broken out for a while now between the two governments over good economic data. Both can claim the credit but I suspect the general election campaign will put a stop to that.

On other topics, the First Minister said Labour's manifesto should include a time-table on what he calls "fair-funding" for the assembly.

This is important because he was critical of the St David's Day announcement on an improved funding deal because he said there was a lack of detail.

It will be difficult to continue with that line if his own party's manifesto lacks the kind of detail he wants.

Ed Miliband also indicated strongly that there would be more on his plans to improve the assembly's funding in the manifesto when I spoke to him at the Welsh Labour conference in Swansea.

Political football

And there was no sense that he was surprised by the collapse of the proposed NHS Commission, after Plaid pulled out last week.

He said it was a disappointment and accused Plaid and the Conservatives of wanting to use the NHS as a political football between now and the general election.

The proposed commission was a win-win for the government.

If it had gone ahead then ministers could have claimed to be doing something about the problems, and if it failed to get off the ground then they could have accused the other parties of not being serious about reform, which is exactly what's happened.