Tuesday, 9 October 2007

All over Darling

Gordon Brown's favourite joke in his old job was that there are two types of Chancellor - those who fail and those who get out in time.

Mr Brown doesn't think he failed. Public spending has soared during the last 8 years, although that rate of growth is likely to slow down dramatically.

So a tough job for the man who's taken over at the Treasury, Alistair Darling, who unveils the UK Government's spending plans later today. Spending will go up but after the years of plenty the next few years will feel like a squeeze.

It's an early challenge too for the Labour/Plaid Cymru coalition government in Cardiff Bay. They have a long shopping list of promises - they'll find out today whether they can pay for them.

We are talking real terms (after inflation) increases, although smaller than we have become accustomed to, so the settlement could be (probably will be) presented as generous or mean-fisted, depending on who is doing the spinning.

If Plaid think the latter they could always blame the colonial London government (I paraphrase) for failing to come up with the money, without alienating their Welsh coalition partners too much.

But with health and education the main winners in England, the Welsh budget should not suffer disproportionately, give or take the odd argument about spending formulas.

More on this throughout the day, but now for something completely different.

I bet you've always wondered how Ministers use taxpayers' money to fund their reading matter.

Here's a list of the subscriptions taken out by the Wales Office, as listed by Secretary of State Peter Hain:

"Dod's Companions, including National Assembly for Wales companion, Vacher's Quarterly,
Economist, The Spectator, Tribune, New Statesman, Prospect, Whitehall and Westminister World, Private Eye, Golwg, Y Cymro, and Welsh Farmer."

Somehow I can't quite see Peter Hain settling down in an armchair with a copy of Y Cymro or Welsh Farmer. Aga Magazine perhaps........

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