Friday, April 27, 2007

Boris the porker

Lots of mucky business down on the farm with David Cameron today. He met a pig called Boris the Boar who had recently fathered 13 piglets. Boris was lying in a bed of muddy straw when the Tory leader's attention was drawn to him.
"This Boris is responding to my commands, rather like the other Boris," he said, as he scratched Boris's back with a big stone.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Here's Labour's response to the ITV Wales/NOP tracker poll, which has Plaid overtaking the Tories

The choice in front of the people of Wales could not be clearer - a vote for Rhodri Morgan and Welsh Labour, with a coherent and properly costed programme of government, or a vote for the others which could very well result in Tory Ministers in charge of our schools and hospitals in a Plaid-led coalition.

No mention of the "Tory-led coalition" we've heard so much about. Will Labour turn its sizeable guns on Plaid in the last few days of the campaign?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Good sauce

Lots of source talk over lunch, as in who is the source of the BBC's story about a Labour-Plaid deal. Not sauce, as in mint.

Unsurprisingly, Labour politicians are apoplectic. The number of angry phone calls Peter Hain got from "parliamentary colleagues this morning has been quite phenomenal", I hear. One Labour AM told me that whoever has been speaking to BBC Wales can "crawl back under whatever stone they crawled out of".

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ian Rush was right about milk

You may have seen the Chancellor smashing a tennis ball across the playground during his visit to a primary school in Rhiwbina on Friday. Quite surreal. Cue jokes about where's Lord Levy when you need a tennis partner.

One little boy had earned two stars in class that day. Labour's Cardiff North candidate Sophie Howe told him his parents would be very pleased with him.

“You might get an extra glass of milk”, Rhodri Morgan added. An extra glass of milk? Not an extra half an hour on your Xbox 360 or an extra £1 to spend on sweets and football stickers, but an extra glass of milk. I wish I lived in a world where children still considered two glasses of milk to be a treat.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Coalition talks take their toll

:: Ieuan Wyn Jones just told Dragon's Eye that as well as not serving in a “Tory-led” Assembly Government, Plaid would also not “prop up Labour”. I had to get on the phone and ask a party PR to explain what the "propping-up" bit meant. It's deal or no deal, apparently. There would either have to be a formal coalition government or not – none of this “we will support you on that vote this week but not on this vote that week”. Does it matter? According to Peter Hain, Labour will not do business with Plaid anyway. All the various coalition permutations are getting a bit daft. More than once my newsdesk – who, like most human beings, are not following every twist and turn of this saga – have had to phone me back after I filed stories to clarify what the hell is going on. Does it make any difference if Ieuan says he's not keen on this “Tory-led” scenario? Will he still be Plaid's leader if the Tories thrash him into third place? I can't decide if there's a story in this, which is often a pretty good sign that there is not – a conclusion reinforced by the cold I have. Conserving energy for a big day tomorrow.

:: Wrote a story about minor parties today. Despite the BNP's manifesto striking a predictably displeased tone about the “influx” of “bogus asylum seekers” we are apparently experiencing, it contains a policy that would actually makes it easier to get into Wales – scrapping the toll on the Severn Bridge. Shurely shome mishtake.

:: Added a couple of new links today. The Echo has an election blog, with an interesting take on Alun Pugh's latest.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Warm bodies

I thoroughly recommend this Economist piece on the election. I particularly like the line about “warm bodies” needing to be selected ever four years to fill the Senedd.

In discussions about low voter turnout, one often hears that the media needs to “do its bit” and that getting more people to vote is a “challenge for all of us”. Declining turnout is a phenomenon across the democratised world, exacerbated at Assembly election time by the fact that so few people wanted devolution in the first place.

Frankly, if anyone thinks newspapers can propel more people to the polling stations by reviving the tradition of verbatim accounts of proceedings, they're having a laugh.

All things considered, the space and time given to Assembly politics by Wales's media is pretty fair. Wales's election has barely registered in the national press, while Scotland's is generating a lot of coverage and discussion. That's not because the media are unwilling to do their bit in Wales. It's because the media go where the stories are and there is a better story going on in Scotland.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Donde esta Lembit?

January 15. The WMC. Lib Dem pre-manifesto launch. Where's Lembit?
March 26. The WMC. Lib Dem official campaign launch. Where's Lembit?
April 5. The WMC. Lib Dem manifesto launch. Where's Lembit?
April 16. Found him! He's on holiday according to today's papers, wherein he is pictured playing table tennis with bikini-clad Gabriela in the sunshine. The Mirror quotes a "fellow holidaymaker in Majorca". But the Mail says its shots were taken "on an Easter break in the Canaries". Crikey! The boy gets about don't he? No wonder we couldn't find him.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Call to Arms

:: Went down the Arms Park to see the Blues slaughter Edinburgh yesterday. Found myself sat next to First Minister Rhodri Morgan. Man-of-the-people Morgan is often to be found cheering on his beloved Cardiff, whom he first saw play in 1946. He said he canvassed Wales forward coach Robin McBryde when he was out door-knocking in Tumble recently. The rugby-mad Labour leader asked McBryde why the national pack scrummaged so much better against England than it did against Scotland in the Six Nations. But would he vote Labour, I enquired? "To be honest we were so busy talking about the bloody scrum I forgot to ask who he was voting for."

:: Yes, not blogged for a while. Not that you will have missed me as no-one is concerned with any blog other than Arsembly at present. He/she was, you will have seen, the subject of a piece in Golwg last week. Therein it was speculated that Arsembly's alter ego is an election candidate with a close friend who works for the BBC. One name immediately springs to mind. "It's not me," he tells me. The search goes on. I confess that I - like all of Arsembly's readers - am desperate to know the identify of the Clark Kent behind this blogging Superman.

:: See that story in the Western Mail recently about how to dress tidy in order to win votes? I hope for his sake a certain Cabinet minister did. A Labour PR asked him to take off his duffel coat before going on the telly on the campaign trail recently. "If it's good enough for Michael Foot ... " he said, as he reluctantly disrobed.