Thursday, 19 July 2007

By royal appointment

Reshuffles are great fun for journalists, not so much fun for the victims.

Political correspondents work themselves up into a lather about who's up, who's down from a cast of characters barely known outside the Westminster or Cardiff Bay bubble.

We breathlessly report how someone you've never heard of has been sacked from a job you didn't realise he was doing until he was fired.

I do (almost) feel sorry for those Ministers who beaver away in unglamorous roles for years, making the news only when they are appointed and/or sacked.

Like me, you probably haven't been able to sleep for the excitement of waiting to hear Rhodri Morgan's new Labour/Plaid Cymru line-up in the Welsh Assembly.

Apparently, we won't get the names until they've been approved by the Queen. Welsh Ministers are now Ministers of the Crown, which means that, formally at least, they can't be appointed until Buckingham Palace signals its agreement.

Somehow I can't imagine Her Majesty pondering a list sent by Rhodri Morgan, checking it for balance and possible future coalition tensions, before sending it back with one or two alterations.

At Westminster, the Queen is often the last to hear reshuffle details which leak (sometimes inaccurately) in the run-up to changes, but the Assembly Government is playing it by the book in respecting the protocols introduced by the latest Government of Wales Act.

Apparently we won't get the names until they've been rubber-stamped by the Palace. Devolution may or may not have weakened the Union but it certainly seems to have strengthened the monarchy's role in Wales.

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