Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Being put in their place

Yesterday’s meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee seems to have lived down to expectations, with the leaders of the devolved governments coming out with no more information than they took in.  They have, though, been put in their place, having been told very clearly that they must not seek to promote the interests of their respective nations undermine Brexit.
A picture tells a story, as they say, and I thought that the picture of them all meeting in the Cabinet Room which is contained in this report said a great deal.  It shows that around half of those at the meeting represented the UK/England Government whilst the other half represented all three of the devolved governments.  A 50:50 split probably seems about right from ‘their’ perspective.  But they were also sitting on opposite sides of the table, in a way which immediately conveys either confrontation or a clear power relationship.  Or maybe both.
I suspect that it’s accidental, in the sense that probably no-one really gave it much thought in advance.  This is, after all, THE Cabinet Table; it’s where, from ‘their’ perspective it all happens.  And also, from ‘their’ perspective, they are very much in charge.  But the fact that it’s obviously so natural that it didn’t need a great deal of thought is precisely the point which is so revealing.  It’s what they mean when they talk about a grown-up relationship.


Anonymous said...

I don't quite understand what our First Minister was doing there. Brexit isn't a devolved matter is it?

Why doesn't he just get on with improving education, bettering the Welsh NHS and sorting out local government. These are the things he is paid to do! He shouldn't have time for anything else.

John Dixon said...

I'm not sure that you have a very good grasp of devolution there. He's also responsible for transport, social services, agriculture, and economic development. Brexit as such is not a devolved issue, but it has an impact on almost every area of the Welsh Government's responsibilities.

And the Joint Ministerial Council was set up by the UK Government - are you suggesting that he should refuse to attend?