Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I hate the phrase “in terms of”. Why does everyone say it? It's almost always completely superfluous to the requirements of any sentence which has the misfortune to bear it.

I'm prompted to write this after I heard Business Minister Jane Hutt say “in terms of terms of reference” (sic) in the Assembly chamber today.

Assembly time should be treated as a precious commodity and put to far better use - such as this contribution by Tory AM David Davies: “In my own local pub if you know the landlady well enough then you're perfectly welcome to go and serve yourself.”

He said this during a debate on banning smoking in public places which – as an ardent supporter of the forthcoming ban - I found thoroughly, thoroughly depressing. The Assembly wanted to do this four years ago but was unable to act until last year's Public Health Act went through Parliament. The only benefit Wales gets for its early adoption of the ambition to ban – and we can't even all agree on this – is to get the ban three months early and signs no-one understands.

Tie dai

Look at this snazzy tie. Poor leopard. No match funding, but lots of kudos for the first reader to guess which AM is sporting this fetching piece of neckwear.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Peasantly surprised

I love this picture of Tory AM William Graham which he puts on all his press releases. It's the kind of pose an older David Hasselhoff might strike.
For some reason my computer has deemed emails from Mr Graham's office 'SPAM'.
His latest release notes his concern that from next year UCAS will ask university applicants if their parents have a degree. The UCAS form already has - or at least it did when I filled it out in 1998 - a question about the applicant's parents' occupation. I know someone who satisfied this query with the answer "peasant".

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Keep it brief ... most of the time

In her defence yesterday, Lib Dem AM Eleanor Burnham - who was ticked off for referring to the Japanese as "Japs" during an Assembly debate - said Britons are sometimes called Brits. Fair enough. But that maxim on brevity being the soul of wit is not one I would advise following in such matters. We can only thank God that when Ms Burnham enunciated her ill-advised abbreviation AMs were not discussing Pakistan.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Union of the snake

The SNP could finish ahead of Labour as Scotland's biggest party in May, yet still fail to form a government. They will lack the numbers for a majority and it could be that the Lib Dems will not want to help them into office because of the SNP policy on independence.

In a piece on the health of the Union, the Times's Peter Riddell says that would “well suit” SNP leader Alex Salmond, allowing him to “play the part of the aggrieved victor”.

Depressing. Frankly dignity in opposition is a pretty crap consolation prize for floating voters - in this case floating voters who might, heaven forfend, back the SNP because they think it will give them better schools and hospitals.

With a charismatic leader at the helm - say an Alex Salmond or a Dafydd Wigley, who can unite the coalition of pragmatists and romantics identified here by Dafydd Elis Thomas – party members might temporarily overlook the power/independence dilemma.

Facing the electoral reality that there is no appetite for independence here in Wales, the Plaid leadership has kicked the issue into touch. Party leader Ieuan Wyn Jones wants to convince voters he has a plan for government and the ability to deliver it. There is no mention of the I word in Plaid's Change for the Better document, published this week. The document aligns itself with Aneurin Bevan and Lloyd George: radical, reforming politicians who got things done while in government.

I'm sure I am reading too much into the booklet's omission of Plaid icons like Gwynfor Evans. Plaid's Cardiff HQ – Ty Gwynfor – is named after him. But there is no mention of him when readers of Change for the Better are invited to send the party their policy ideas. They are told to direct their contributions to “The Policy Development unit, Plaid Cymru, 18 Park Grove”.
In marginals Cardiff North and Llanelli, the two opposition candidates in pole position are existing AMs migrating from regional lists – Tory Jonathan Morgan in Cardiff North and Helen Mary Jones for Plaid in Llanelli.
Plaid's two big hopes in the north – Dafydd Wigley on the list and Gareth Jones in Aberconwy – are former AMs.
David Davies is standing down in Monmouth to be replaced by Nick Ramsay. He probably spends more time in the Assembly than Mr Davies anyway because he works here.
As does Nerys Evans, who takes over from HMJ for Plaid in Mid and West Wales.
Gareth Hughes made a good point on Waterfront last night. With the outcome of May's Assembly election hinging on only a handful of seats, there will be very few new faces in the Assembly, even if there is a new government.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Yes I know. Haven't blogged for more than a month. Terrible.

Does anyone think that this idea of policy proposals is cheating? Plaid and the Lib Dems were at it this week. It seems that if you don't like a policy idea then you can have it booted out of the manifesto like a loud-mouthed allegedly racist contestant on Celebrity Big Brother.
It used to be the case that if you didn't like a party's policies then you didn't vote for the party. It remains to be seen whether this attempt at participatory manifesto writing will reinvigorate our worryingly apathetic society, or whether the ever-earlier onset of election campaigning will prove to be the electoral equivalent of a very comfy bed.