Insight

A good day to bury good news? Mark Drakeford denies suggestions that he's just performed a u-turn

140121 MARK DRAKEFORD PA IMAGES
Mark Drakeford has announced Wales will return to alert level zero Credit: PA

Mark Drakeford has spent much of today batting off accusations that he's just performed a u-turn when it comes to the covid restrictions in Wales. 

There certainly has been a change in outlook. 

Last Friday the First Minister said that Wales was "heading into the eye of the storm of the Omicron wave of coronavirus" which was why the Welsh Government was "not in a position to withdraw any of the protections we have put in place while we are still facing the month of January with this rapidly rising wave of the new form of coronavirus."

Even on Tuesday in First Minister's Questions he told the Opposition leader that: "Wales is in the teeth of the omicron storm. And let me be clear, Llywydd: that is where we are. We are still facing the enormous pressures and impacts of coronavirus..."

There are plenty of occasions when "u-turn" is the most apt term but I don't like overusing it. We journalists and opposition politicians are always urging governments to change their mind and when they do it's all too easy to accuse them of a u-turn. 

That said, there's little doubt that today's announcement saw a remarkable change in the First Minister's language. Wales, he said, is now in a "benign position" and the case numbers are falling rapidly. 

I asked him if the modelling of the caseload used by the Welsh Government and which predicted that the omicron peak would come next week was wrong. 

Mark Drakeford said: "I don't think the model was wrong in essence, because the model showed what has actually happened in practice: that very sharp rise and now a rapid decline."

But he acknowledged it had happened more quickly. 

And he pointed out that, actually, his timetable for easing those restrictions that he announced today pretty much matches the fortnight that he predicted last week.

So undoubtedly a change and a happy one, but that hasn't stopped the Conservatives branding it a u-turn even if it's one that they welcome. 

And there's a suggestion that perhaps another kind of storm: the one engulfing the Prime Minister, has provided some cover to make a significant change, knowing that both that political storm and the fact that it's widely welcome will result in less criticism. 

Those suggesting that might invert a notorious political phrase: was this a good day to bury good news?