In Cardiff Bay there's been a minor political spat about the publication of competing proposals for a business bank to be created to channel taxpayers' money to small firms. The Welsh Conservatives are accusing Plaid of attempting to spoil their policy launch by rushing out a pre-emptive call.
It's certainly true that the Tories have been planning today's launch since long before Christmas. It's also true that Plaid's Adam Price championed the idea of a Bank of Wales three years ago. But the Conservatives question the timing of Plaid's decision to make the call again.
The other twist in the tale is that a figure long associated with the Welsh Conservatives, Professor Dylan Jones Evans, has been appointed by the Business Minister to report to her about all these matters. Cutting through the arguing, I think there are three political points to draw from today:
- Conservatives are promoting the idea of a state-owned bank, an eye-brow raising fact which perhaps underlines growing confidence and independence of thought in the Welsh group. On closer inspection it does meet Tory ideals though: better use of public money and partnership with the private sector.
- A cross-party consensus is emerging. If the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru are both arguing for a state-owned lending bank AND the Welsh Government's independent review will look at it too, then this is an idea whose time has come. The difference is about details.
- They're arguing over ideas. Reject the idea or dispute the detail, but this a major, thought-through policy launch from a group which is often accused, particularly by Labour, of having no ideas. And the retaliation comes not with personal jibes but counter-proposals. This seems to me a Good Thing.
The Welsh Conservatives' Shadow finance minister sets out his view of what sort of business bank Wales needs and why
Plaid Cymru's economy spokesman sets out what sort of business bank Wales needs and why
Welsh Conservatives outline plans for a network of banks to channel public money to small businesses.