Friday, July 28, 2006

Are we nearly there yet, Sam?

The Government of Wales Act stopped being a Bill and became an Act this week. Peter Hain and Rhodri Morgan were very pleased and threw a party in the Assembly to celebrate.
Far more interesting than the speeches by Mr Hain, Mr Morgan and Lord Elis-Thomas (about Mr Hain, Mr Morgan and Lord Elis-Thomas) was the guest list.
The usual political hangers-on attended. But so too did Cardiff City's charismatic chairman Sam Hammam. I didn't have time to ask him if he thought Mr Hain was right in his assertion that the Act settles the constitutional wrangle over devolution for ever and ever and ever Amen.
For the record, I don't. Although it means Wales will pick up a long-overdue Scottish-style parliament after a referendum, it doesn't say when that referendum will be. It will need the agreement of the Welsh Secretary, Parliament and two-thirds of AMs before it can be put to the people - but as far as I can tell Assembly Ministers can call for one whenever they want.
Labour say there is no demand for one in the country yet. Cue ceaseless squabbling about when the time is right.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Look what you've done

The mood at Labour AMs' end-of-term summer party - to which I was not invited - was “reflective”, I'm told.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Please release me

I get hundreds of press releases every week - most of which make me weep with boredom. But this one, from the Assembly Government, brightened my afternoon.

"Breakfast Clubs are The Best, amazing, bendigedig, fantastic and good for children ".....................says Connor Summerwill ( age 8) from Ysgol Gynradd, Trallwen, Swansea.

Connor was so chuffed with his free breakfast, he wrote to FM Rhodri Morgan and Education Minister Jane Davidson to say "cheers", and invited them round for some Frosties. The heart-warming and not-in-any-way contrived dispatch continues ...

Connor has also written a story of a boy who couldn't get out of bed for school. The tale has a happy ending as "young Rhodri " starts attending a breakfast club ... and his life is transformed.

In his reply to Connor's letter the First Minister wrote "I love stories and I really enjoyed reading The Kid Who Would Never Get Up For School.

And today I winced with excitement when one popped into my inbox that read: "DAVID DAVIES REVEALS DISAPPOINTMENT AT EURO EXIT". What's this? The Tory MP for Monmouth berating his leader's new EU alliance? Sadly not ...

Commonwealth gold medal winning swimmer David Davies has today revealed his disappointment at the prospect of missing out on the opportunity to clinch a podium position at the European Championships later this month (26-30 July 2006).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Talking 'bout my generation

Lots of talk about energy generation today.
Pedants will know the Government is getting ideas above its station if it thinks it can generate energy.
The amount of energy in the universe is constant. It can merely be used to create electricity.

It's getting hot in here or My thermometer is bigger than yours

In the bleak mid winter AMs complained they were too cold in the Assembly's new chamber. One threatened to take her football scarf in as a sign of protest.
Now they are too hot. Something of a competition seems to have broken out about how hot it actually was in the Senedd during the recent heatwave.
Lib Dem AM Peter Black blogged that it was 28C.
But the highest yet comes from Tory AM William Graham. "Twenty-nine my thermometer said. Perfectly horrendous."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Kev's Karaoke Kings

Public standards champion Sir Alistair Graham has advised the Prime Minister on dealing with his deputy.
But Sir Alistair got some light relief from these weighty matters of state when the body he chairs, the Committee on Standards in Public Life, took evidence from First Minister Rhodri Morgan on the Electoral Commission in a Cardiff hotel today.
Mr Morgan kicked off proceedings with this little ice-breaker: “The last time I was in here was for a knees-up.”
Said 'do' was for the wedding of the brother of the FM's successor as Cardiff West MP, Kevin Brennan.
Not for the first time I struggled to follow the FM's thread, but the party involved a karaoke-related altercation whereby the talented Brennan clan outsang its guests.
Eventually, Mr Morgan said, someone cried: “Isn't there anybody in the Brennan family who can't sing?” The public must know.
Recounting the bizarre story must have been a nice diversion for Mr Morgan from stories such as this which abound in the press today.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bye bye Blaenau Gwent

Farewell to the Blaenau Gwent by-election campaign.
Independents Dai Davies and Trish Law thumped Labour in a surprising double victory.
They took up their seats in Westminster and the Assembly yesterday – and their welcomes could not have been more different.
Mr Davies's entry to the Commons was reportedly greeted with Labour cries of “There's a traditional socialist” and “Enjoy it while you can”.
Meanwhile new AM Mrs Law, who took up her seat exactly 10 weeks after it was vacated by the death of her husband Peter, was applauded when she strolled into the Senedd chamber.
AMs appeared to be climbing over each other to welcome her. Deputy Presiding Officer John Marek sent out a notice advising hacks that he would be “on the front steps. (Not Senedd)” at 11am to meet Mrs Law.
Not wanting to be outdone, his boss Lord Elis-Thomas fired off an email 30 minutes later announcing he would be “on the steps of the Senedd at 1.45” to escort the new AM into plenary.
How ironic that her arrival now gives the Assembly more female than male members. It was a row about an all-women shortlist that prompted the late Mr Law to leave the Labour Party in the first place.

Monday, July 03, 2006

What England wanna do right, is replace their entire strike force with Colwyn Bay girls under-12s

Bad luck to England.
Welsh Sports Minister Alun Pugh promises he was not supporting Portugal during the nail-biting penalty shoot out. Not that you would want his advice on footballing matters - on Saturday Colwyn Bay girls under-12s put five spot-kicks passed him.
These children were of course the offspring of potential voters in his ultra-marginal Clwyd West seat. Did Mr Pugh perhaps let the girls score lest their Mums and Dads withhold their votes if he leapt like a be-gloved salmon and saved their efforts?
No, says he, because they were "all in the bottom corner. I couldn't get near them."