Airbrushing and hypocrisy claims

Assembly business in Cardiff Bay goes on but as one official told me: "Everything is being seen in the prism of the general election," and inevitably First Minister's Questions could not escape the omni-presence of the campaign either.

Leanne Wood kicked matters off by accusing Carwyn Jones of trying to airbrush Jeremy Corbyn out after he failed to mention him once at the Welsh Labour campaign launch.

She followed it up by pointedly asking whether he would be taking responsibility for the result of the Labour campaign in Wales if the party ends up being overtaken by the Conservatives for the first time in a century.

The first minister responded by mocking some of the Plaid results in the local elections.

It was a clear attempt to hit a raw nerve as some in Plaid feel it performed better last week than it was given credit for.

Surprisingly, the Conservatives did not stick with the same theme.


Although leader Andrew RT Davies did accuse Labour of hypocrisy at a press conference earlier in the day for including devolved issues in their campaign pledges when Labour had criticised the Tories for repeatedly raising the state of the devolved Welsh NHS in the last general election two years ago.

The Tories do not like the fact that Carwyn Jones is fronting up the Labour campaign in Wales because as an assembly member he does not have any "skin in the game".

But it is difficult for them to take the high-ground when they spent so much time talking about devolved issues in the last campaign.

UKIP's Neil Hamilton also got in on the general election act when he asked the first minister whether he would follow Jeremy Corbyn's widely anticipated policy to raise the top rate of income tax when a Welsh element of the tax is due to be devolved in 2019.

The answer was no. To be fair, Carwyn Jones is locked into a manifesto commitment not to raise the Welsh element of income tax in the current assembly term.

But it is an interesting observation in light of the devolution of some taxation powers.


The inclusion of devolved issues like the protection of free school breakfasts as a general election campaign pledge led to a tough interview for the Labour Economy Secretary Ken Skates on Good Morning Wales when he was repeatedly asked whether that meant it was under threat if the Conservatives won the election.

Ken Skates struggled to say definitively whether that would be the case.

The logic goes that if it is not in doubt (because it is devolved) then why is it there in the first place?

Labour later insisted he did make the point that a Theresa May government would continue with austerity, and so put pressure on an entire range of services.

One final thought: spare a thought for the former Cardiff council leader Phil Bale who must be wondering what all the effort was for to fight and win the campaign for Labour in the city, only to be voted out by his group.

It is a cliché but politics is a tough old game.