Call centres and constitutional matters

From call centres to the constitution, here are some thoughts on a number of recent developments.

The contrast between the Tesco job losses in Cardiff, and some of the losses we have seen in industries like steel could not be sharper.

In heavy industry in particular, the jungle drums usually start weeks before a big announcement is made.

With Tesco, more than 1,100 losses were announced in Cardiff (the biggest single round of cuts in a number of years in Wales), and it took everyone by surprise.

Plaid Cymru has already raised question marks about the antenna of the Welsh Government's economy department that no-one appeared to know in advance.


Questions were also raised from a number of senior Welsh figures about whether a financial aid package from the Scottish Government effectively undermined the jobs in Wales.

Officials in Edinburgh have told me no such direct support has been offered.

Considering the amount of financial assistance given to various companies to locate in Wales over the years, presumably at the expense of places like Scotland, it may have been better to let that one lie.

There is nothing like a big round of job losses to concentrate minds on the strength of the economy; the Tesco decision will focus debate over the coming weeks on prospects for business in Wales.

On a separate subject, Carwyn Jones has gone on the attack about prospects of the UK Government finding an "underhand" way of providing extra cash for Northern Ireland to ensure a Conservative-DUP deal gets off the ground.


His central argument is parity, backed up by the Barnett formula. In other words, any extra money Northern Ireland gets from the Treasury will need to be reflected in Wales and Scotland.

It is a view which has been echoed by, of all people, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies, but not entirely by Labour's shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Smith who says the concept of parity has not been used in the past in relation to Northern Ireland because of its "special" circumstances.

There has been some push-back against a reported demand of an extra £2bn for Northern Ireland but presumably if a Tory-DUP deal gets off the ground, there will be more cash for Belfast, and also presumably, there will be bitter complaints from Wales and Scotland because of a lack of parity.

Owen Smith may end up being critical of the Tory DUP deal for a variety of different reasons, but parity with the rest of the UK will not be one of them.

In a highly unusual development, Andrew RT Davies has also found himself agreeing with Carwyn Jones on another matter as well, this time on reform of the Joint Ministerial Councils, or JMCs.


Carwyn Jones said last week he felt they should be beefed up in the wake of Brexit, and Mr Davies has come out in favour of reform as well, saying the current system smacks of the 1950s.

It is not the first time he has used the 1950s as a point of reference. In the weekend after the election, he accused others in his party of living in the past for the way they ignored the Welsh party in the campaign.

This is all part of efforts by Andrew RT Davies to try to build a stronger identity and structure within the Conservative party in Wales.

The general election result means he may have some traction in the way that would not have been the case if the number of Welsh Tory MPs had increased, rather than gone into reverse.