Education Minister's resignation
28th June 2013
Yesterday (25 June), there was what some Welsh media commentators are calling a first, a forced resignation from the Welsh Government.
Leighton Andrews, Minister for education in the Labour Welsh Government, was forced to resign after campaigning for a school to stay open in his constituency, despite the fact that it was the policy of his department that was dictating it close.
This is not the first time that Andrews has taken a position as a constituency Assembly Member in opposition to a policy he voted for as a Cabinet member. He recently had a dressing down from the First Minister for campaigning with other Labour politicians as 'Labour 4 Royal Glam' to retain a full doctor-led A&E at the local hospital for his constituents. The policy of the cabinet which up until yesterday he was a member of, is for the downgrading of services like A&E in all bar 4 or 5 hospitals across South Wales.
NHS Cymru is currently consulting about which hospitals should retain full, doctor-led A&E services and the identified 'best fit' doesn't include the Royal Glamorgan. He was publically corrected by his First Minister and ordered to remove all references to Labour from the campaign material. Opposing party policy on health was bad enough but publically campaigning against Welsh Government policy in the department for which he is Minister was obviously the last straw.
Many trade unionists in the college I work in will be hoping that Andrews takes the Wales FE\HE Bill with him. This piece of Labour legislation proposes giving corporation boards of further education colleges more autonomy, threatening to undermine attempts to establish all-Wales terms and conditions. It grants boards powers to dissolve themselves and transfer their assets (built up with public money) to other bodies, including limited companies. It also. Contains plans to essentially outsource Student Finance Wales.
Neither will teachers in Welsh schools be shedding many tears if the results of a survey of a thousand of its members by the NASUWT is anything to go by. The survey indicates half of teachers in. Wales are looking to leave the profession. In a press release on the survey, in which the union calls on the Welsh Government to "stop fiddling while Rome burns", it points out
"The NASUWT is engaged in a national dispute with the Government on pay, pensions, workload, working conditions and job loss."
They've been in dispute with the Welsh Government since 2011!
The Welsh Government's policies in education can't be blamed on one Minister though, the cuts that the Welsh Government are passing on in the NHS and the cuts being made by Welsh Labour councils show that we can't expect any resistance to austerity from Welsh Labour, no matter which of them are ministers.
Neither should Welsh workers look to Plaid Cymru. Their credentials as a radical alternative to Labour were seriously dented as they announced an agreement to negotiate as "one team", jointly with the Lib Dems on the Welsh Government budget.
4 parties are represented in the Welsh Assembly and they all support cuts because they all see no alternative to the market. Welsh workers desperately need a political alternative; they need TUSC Wales.
Check out this article on the Socialist Party Wales website for more comment on Andrews' resignation, including detailed analysis on Welsh Government cuts in Higher Education: http://www.socialistpartywales.org.uk/news170.shtml