Thursday, 23 October 2008

Senedd Circular w/b 20 Oct 2008: Opening Old Wounds

This article appears in The Wardman Wire:

This week, Miss Wagstaff has been excited and down in the dumps at the same time, if that’s at all possible. On the one hand, she’s unwell, and on the other she has the opportunity to write a Senedd Circular post that is long overdue.

We can safely put leadership elections on the back burner for a while, the Welsh Labour leadership election has been talked to death [well, nearly!] and the Welsh Liberal Democrat election is a two-horse race that is slowly gaining momentum – and both always seem to be topical on Welsh blogs.

Plenty has happened since my last post to this column, though it appears that nothing changes when it comes to a rift between the Commons and Assembly, MPs versus AM’s in what one leading Welsh blogger has described as “…the Welsh Affairs Select Committee’s response to the housing LCO suggests that it is, illegally, attempting to make itself the Assembly's upper house.” and by another as a constitutional stand-off between the National Assembly and the Welsh Affairs Committee of the House of Commons.

You can always predict when disaster and controversy will strike at the heart of the Assembly, and it’s usually when Lord Elis-Thomas opens his bi-lingual mouth. Bi-lingual in terms of speaking - both as an Assembly Member and Presiding Officer - and occasionally mixing the two when convenient. Not this week. Though it has opened old wounds with a former adversary.

This week’s main tension comes from the to-ing and fro-ing of work by the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee and our own National Assembly. This has resulted in resident villain [usually], or as others call him, Presiding Officer Lord Elis-Thomas [Dafydd Elis-Thomas to his friends, I’m told] in having to stick his nose in where it needs to be for a change - in policing the remit of LCO's. His lordship has taken time out to write to two-time Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy, expressing concerns and accusing the Welsh Affairs Select Committee of MPs of "anti-devolution sentiment". Elis-Thomas is no stranger to offering his opinion on a whole range of ‘constitutional’ matters.

It may sound odd, but even other Assembly members have queued up behind the Presiding Officer, not just fellow Plaid members this time, and called for him to be heard as the voice of reason.

This fistfight between Commons and Assembly has happened before and was largely seen as a straight fight, with the Assembly’s proposal dumped from a great height without sound – simply no remit to turn this into law. This time it’s different.

The present bout over the Welsh Assembly Government's request for powers to legislate over the so-called right-to-buy-scheme. In short, the Welsh Ministers are asking for more than they originally sought and are being ticked off by the Welsh Affairs Select Committee. The committee’s jabbing response is one of - you do have the right to do both, but you only discussed suspension of the right-to-buy when you talked to us about it originally. Because of this we believe you should stay within the original draft.

On this occasion the common sense approach is needed as much agreed by those that generally take a step back from those MPs that it directly affects. MPs do seem to be interfering too deeply into matters concerning the remit of the WASC when it comes to dealing with LCOs. Their role as committee members is to work within the remit of the Government of Wales Act when it comes to guiding LCOs through their part of the process. Anything more, and they run the risk of being accused of standing in the way of devolution, the Assembly, sometimes their party colleagues, and what their future has in store for them.

Too much interference may stave off extinction of some of their numbers, and will – in some cases – harm their legacy as Welsh politicians. Common sense and mutual trust is a must, but sometimes hard to come by, even within members of the same party.

And finally…

A welcome back to blogging to my old friend, Matt Wardman after his short trip to Wales, where he took in the ‘To blog or not to blog’ debate. I hope it was all worthwhile after the blogging banter that arose beforehand, and that the best side won.

Since writing this article it seems that blogging won the day, although I turn my face as there was much stick for anonymous bloggers – “Not accountable? True enough. Not reliable sources? Fair enough. Malicious? Some can be. Unchristian? Now hang on ... “

I’m still not convinced that I should ‘out’ myself!


Rhetoric Innes 23 October 2008 at 19:39  

Pippa. In the debate i did make the remark to Darren Millar A.M. who believed anonymous blogging was good. since he represents christians in the assembly my reply to Darren was that anonymous blogging was sneaky and not Christian. It was a light hearted point .
Also Eleanor told me afterwards that she does want to do a blog, Betsan is right. I think it would be a very good one.

Anonymous 23 October 2008 at 19:56  

"I’m still not convinced that I should ‘out’ myself!"

Everyone knows who you are in the bay.

Miss Wagstaff 23 October 2008 at 20:06  


I'd wondered why 'unchristian' was used during debate. I'm only sorry that I couldn't be there as it sounded like a worthwhile debate from what I've heard.

I can understand why blogging is not taken up by most politicians. Never mind the constant scrutiny by others, it takes up too much time if done right, and must put people off running a blog long term.

As for anonymous blogging being sneaky, perhaps you're right to some degree. I'm only described as sneaky when I have to think up ingenious ways of keeping Christmas/birthday presents away from my son until the day arrives.

Best wishes for your project. Sad to see another blogger leave, but there is another world out there.


Suze 23 October 2008 at 20:33  

The general consensus on the blogs is that the Presiding Officer is speaking for the majority of the Assembly on this one. Let's hope he sticks to his role.

Anonymous 24 October 2008 at 00:06  

Wardman and Richard, sorry 'Pippa'.....

Why dont you just have the courage of say Guido or Dale and come out as Tory bloggers?

Why do you continue to pretend you are not?

would it not be better if you just came out and declared your obvious Tory politcal allegiances?

Can we have an honest answer please?

Anonymous 24 October 2008 at 01:12  

Anonymous' clearly haven't got a clue. Matt Wardman has already covered thr question of party allegiance on his blog.

Rhetoric Innes 24 October 2008 at 13:13  

Thanks Pippa for this.

It was funny because Victoria Winkler
in her speech said' I wonder if Miss Wagstaff is here'
Everybody looked around, eyeing up possible suspects! There was one girl on her own in the middle seemed to be a likely candidate in some peoples minds but i knew better!
sorry for being cryptic...

Anonymous 24 October 2008 at 16:38  

>Anonymous said...
>Why don't you just have the courage of say Guido or Dale and come out as Tory bloggers?
>Why do you continue to pretend you are not?
>Would it not be better if you just came out and declared your obvious Tory politcal allegiances?
>Can we have an honest answer please?

I've covered this already. You are welcome to run my real name - which is not hidden - through any Party Membership database you choose: you will find I am not a member.

You need to distinguish between personal views, party allegiance and the range of views expressed on a blog site.

I've just published a series (which had Dave Cole - Labour Member - as series editor) on English Devolution which included a piece from Damian Hockney (One London after Veritas and UKIP). I've also posted the Eclectech Kilroy-Silk cartoon - worth a look.

Sure - I'm not keen on the current Govt (like a lot of Labour Bloggers I talk to), or some aspects of Old Labour for that matter, but I don't hide that - a wide political debate about the current issues is far more useful than hickery-hackery puppet shows.

Guido isn't a Tory, by the way; he's a member of a small Irish Party that I had to look up.

If they get in I expect him to skewer Tories just as enthusiastically as he skewers Labour.

I'll also do what I can to help *any* party (BNP excepted) develop a vigorous blogosphere presence. But I still might not agree with them.

Anonymous 24 October 2008 at 16:40  

I've heard that Pippa Wagstaff was in the room. Only one other person knows her identity. He/she was there too.

Arty 24 October 2008 at 16:44  

It's pathetic to think that there are still people out there who think that just because someone has a go at a governing party, then they must be respresenting the opposition party.

new labour new confidence 24 October 2008 at 17:54  

Matt Wardman said: "You are welcome to run my real name - which is not hidden - through any Party Membership database you choose"

Urgh..... can I choose the Tory Party database please? Can you give me the login and password so I can access it please just to check?

Incidentally. how many party databases do you have access to Matt as a matter of interest?

Arty: In case you didnt know, Pippa is several blokes - Tory blokes. This blog is run by Tory attack puppies. Its their only weapon left in Wales. They gave up on electoral success many moons ago - thank goodness!

Samantha 24 October 2008 at 18:03  

new labour new confidence is so sad in replying with "Tory Blokes". That's the trouble with Labour and Plaid. They believe that all tories are middle aged white men with land.

This blog couldn't possibly be written by a woman as women simply don't blog. You must belong to the Don Touhig section of the labour party.

Anonymous 24 October 2008 at 19:05  

>Incidentally. how many party databases do you have access to Matt as a matter of interest?

No membership, so no access. Can't help. Sorry.

I'm off this thread.

new labour new confidence 24 October 2008 at 19:16  

Samantha (for you too are probably a bloke, as your name sounds almost too twee to actually be a woman!): 'Pippa' is several Tory blokes - that is not a sexist nor misogenistic assertion - it is a anatomical fact darling!

They be blokes they be!

Bye Matt - so nice of you drop by! Thanks for all your help.

P.S. My name is Gillian and I blog - its my right to do so :-)

Anonymous 24 October 2008 at 21:45  

That last comment is so Ordovicius! Is he still annoyed that Daran didn't invite him to speak at the To blog or not to blog debate?

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