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Cadno and Mark’s magic money tree

This comment piece is by Cadno. The fox was the mouthpiece of The Carmarthenshire Herald between 2015 and 2019 and has hundreds of published articles. He has made a come back to join the growing number of contributors on the Herald.Wales website.

THE END of a Parliamentary term in Westminster is often accompanied by a slew of big announcements.

Commitments made during the Parliament for funding are pushed through near the end of term.

That’s the nature of things when a Parliament is curtailed and goes to the country early.

You wait ’til next time, the incumbent government says. We’ll be a lot nicer than the shifty scumbags you’ve had until now.

In December 2019, the opposition parties allowed the Conservatives to go to the country and the time of the latter’s choosing. They had a mistaken belief, encouraged by a friendly and insular London media, that the time was right to derail or rework Brexit.

The result was an electoral apocalypse.

In Wales, things are different. The Welsh Parliament’s term is fixed. It used to be set at four years. Now it’s fixed for five. Therefore, the Welsh Government knows when an election is coming and can plan its legislative programme accordingly. There’s really no need for a raft of last-minute announcements.

A careful student of Welsh Government announcements gets used to the steady drip-drip of funding pledges. Every week there are three or four, sometimes more but not that many more

The current Welsh Government began with a programme it wanted to deliver – or promised to deliver. It had five years to make good on its promises and priorities. Time enough to allocate funding when and where it would do the most good for Wales.

The careful student notes the 100 plus funding announcements made in the eight days to the last Plenary of the current session on Wednesday, March 24.

It looks like May 6’s presence in the calendar for 2021 has come as a horrible surprise to the Welsh Government. They seem astonished by the amount of cash they suddenly have available; now, they intend to spend it – and just before the election.

You can be a careful student, one who notes the ebb and flow of government business over a parliamentary term.

You could, of course, be a cynic and wonder at the sheer luck of the Welsh Government finding tens of millions down the back of Mark Drakeford’s sofa.

Even greater suspension of disbelief might lead our careful student to conclude it was sheer luck the money was found at all. That it was found just in time to spend in marginal constituencies and good works with only six weeks to go before an election; well, that’s just a crazy coincidence.

But you could never suggest it was a crude series of bribes to buy votes.

It turns out principles are like comedy. The secret is in the timing.