Skilled Performers Making an Impact on Westminster's Stage; the Economic Crisis Means Politicians Are No Longer Fighting over How to Share out the Country's Cake but about How to Bake It Afresh in the 21st Century. David Williamson Profiles Four of the Feistiest MPs Worth Watching in the Westminster Kitchen This Year

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 5, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Skilled Performers Making an Impact on Westminster's Stage; the Economic Crisis Means Politicians Are No Longer Fighting over How to Share out the Country's Cake but about How to Bake It Afresh in the 21st Century. David Williamson Profiles Four of the Feistiest MPs Worth Watching in the Westminster Kitchen This Year


LABOUR: OWEN SMITH There is no bigger issue than the economy in UK politics today and every party needs its brightest talents on the Treasury team.

Pontypridd MP Owen Smith may only have entered Westminster for the first time at the last election but UK leader Ed Miliband has promoted him to Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.

Labour is demanding that the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government adopts a Plan B for the economy - it's the job of Mr Smith and his colleagues to present a credible alternative to the Chancellor's strategy.

Mr Smith is clearly ambitious and has no intention of limiting himself to Wales-only areas, having impressed on the shadow health team.

Time spent working on Radio 4's agenda-setting Today programme and years as a special adviser at the Northern Ireland Office have given him a keen understanding of the machinery of both politics and government.

Mr Smith swapped a career in the lucrative world of biotechnology to focus on politics and this articulate and tenacious MP may soon be a household name.

He can speak with passion on subjects as diverse as river hygiene and rugby organisation and he will inject verve and fury into the debate about Britain's fiscal future.

His greatest threat is not a shortage of talent but the imminent removal of 10 of Wales' 40 constituencies.

If the Boundary Commission erases Pontypridd Mr Smith may face an intense selection battle for a new political home.

PLAID CYMRU: JONATHAN EDWARDS Jonathan Edwards stepped into the shoes of Plaid Cymru's philosopher king when Adam Price chose to leave Westminster for a sojourn in Harvard but the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP has not been seen shopping for insoles.

Few hamburgers are served with the amount of relish that Mr Edwards displays for his job. The wider party was rocked when it slipped to third place in the Assembly but Mr Edwards talks with excitement about the low-key revolution which took place in March when the referendum on law-making powers was won.

The party may have suffered a setback but he is confident that outgoing leader Ieuan Wyn Jones will be remembered for engineering a transformation of Welsh politics.

His regular contributions to debates - and his wholehearted participation in the Westminster cricket team - have helped give Plaid an influence that a three-person group might not expect.

He also has a taste for mischief, most notably when raising the possibility during Welsh Questions of, in future Assembly elections, 30 AMs and not just 20 being elected by the regional list.

It is a rare thing to combine intellectual eloquence with the common touch but this MP, whose long-term ambitions are in the Assembly, is making a bold mark.

The former occupant of the seat made his name unearthing the "Mittalgate" scandal and won enough awards to fill several mantelpieces. Mr Edwards is convinced there is a crisis in unionism and if he and his bright research team can cause the coalition to stumble and make Welsh independence seem less outlandish he will wear a smile as he drives back west.

CONSERVATIVE: GLYN DAVIES The House of Commons is packed with MPs who approach their careers with the cunning of chess-players and dream of winning ministerial office and shaking hands with presidents.

Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies' dream came true when he shredded Liberal Democrat Lembit Opik's 7,173 majority and painted the seat blue.

The former AM's victory may have dismayed the bookies and astonished even his own family but as parliamentary private secretary to Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan, the 67-year-old can put his formidable political instincts to the service of the coalition.

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Skilled Performers Making an Impact on Westminster's Stage; the Economic Crisis Means Politicians Are No Longer Fighting over How to Share out the Country's Cake but about How to Bake It Afresh in the 21st Century. David Williamson Profiles Four of the Feistiest MPs Worth Watching in the Westminster Kitchen This Year
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