The week outside Westminster

SCOTLAND

* The Scottish Government published its White Paper on Scotland’s constitutional future. Alex Salmond declared, “It’s time for the people to have their say on Scotland’s future”. Labour Leader, Iain Gray dubbed it a “multimillion-pound white elephant”. “Half baked” concluded long time nationalist, Margo MacDonald.

* Two former Labour Health Ministers came out against Iain Gray’s opposition to SNP plans for a minimum price for alcohol. One, Susan Deacon puts it bluntly: “Frankly, the Labour party in Scotland has ended up in the wrong place for the wrong reasons on this issue.”

* Fiona Hyslop was demoted as Education Secretary. Alex Salmond said that education needed a “fresh look”. Conservative Leader, Annabel Goldie concluded, “I am delighted that he has put Scotland’s schoolchildren before his own narrow party political agenda”.

* New Education Secretary, Mike Russell was forced to sack his constituency assistant for smearing opposition politicians on his blog.

WALES

* The bookies favourite, Carywn Jones secured a considerable victory in the contest to replace Rhodri Morgan, telling his party, “our fightback starts”.

* Finance Minister, Andrew Davies announced he will stand down as an AM at the next Assembly election, amid rumours that he would have been sacked from the cabinet by the new First Minister.

* Defence Minister, Quentin Davies announced a planned programme of job reductions at the Defence Support Group’s large aircraft business unit at St Athan, South Wales. Plaid Cymru MP, Adam Price spoke for many as he described the potential loss of over 300 jobs as a “dreadful shock” so close to Christmas.

NORTHERN IRELAND

* A war of words broke out in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein’s Chairman accused the DUP of having a “train wreck political strategy” over the devolution of policing and justice powers. Peter Robinson reacted by saying, “Sinn Fein is creating the very instability that many people believe is an obstacle to devolving more powers.”

* Swine Flu is blamed for an increase in the number of people waiting longer than they should for an outpatients appointment.

* A poll for the Belfast Telegraph saw Martin McGuniess voted as Northern Ireland’s most respect politician.

* Independent MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, announced that he had joined Fianna Fáil as the party continues its efforts to establish itself in the North.

Quote of the week

“We stand now on the edge of completing devolution.”

Northern Ireland Secretary, Shaun Woodward’s up-beat assessment of progress toward the completion of devolving policing and justice powers to Northern Ireland.

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