Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Brian's button blunder

"It's just as well Wales isn't a nuclear power," one of Tiger Tales' growing army of readers writes.
"Because Brian Gibbons might have just started World War III."
Our correspondent refers, of course, to Brian's button blunder in the Assembly chamber yesterday.
AMs cast votes by pressing a button on their desks. It's very confusing. One button is red and the other is green.
And sadly poor old Dr Gibbons, the Assembly Government's Health Minister, had the misfortune to press the wrong button yesterday.
He was voting on an opposition-tabled demand for a public inquiry into the ambulance service.
The Government, which opposed the idea, would have won the knife-edge vote and torpedoed the inquiry had all Labour AMs pressed the right button.
But they didn't, and thanks to his unwieldy digits Dr Gibbons became the first politician I know of to trigger an inquiry into himself by pressing the wrong button.
When I caught up with him I asked if he was embarrassed. "What do you think?" he replied.
One minute he was angrily denouncing an inquiry into the beleaguered ambulance service. The next the minister was sheepishly admitting his mistake to the rapturous applause of opposition AMs.
But he wasn't the only Labour AM to get it wrong. An Assembly Parliamentary Service spokeswoman said Jane Hutt, Dr Gibbons's predecessor as Health Minister, did not vote at all.
Never mind. At least the Government can stuff the inquiry with a yes man and hope for a white wash.
Hang on. They can't do that either because the Labour AM for Swansea East, Val Lloyd, voted against her group on a separate amendment to create a cross-party panel to choose the inquiry's chairman.
Perhaps Dr Gibbons was dazed by the stunning beauty of Catherine Zeta Jones who he met earlier in the day. She was in Cardiff to visit a children's hospital.
This isn't the first time people have voted the wrong way I understand. But Presiding Officer Lord Elis-Thomas is always quick to dismiss complaints about the voting system. I think it's fair to say he has more faith in the computers than he has in some of the politicians elected to use them.

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