Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Bloggers Beware

Well, that was a close thing. I'd almost lost Edna as my informant. She was going to start her own blog. It was going to be called Sennedd Cleaner's Revenge. And then she happened on some notes that she reckoned Jeff Cuthbert had left behind after the Assembly's Committee on Standards had finished a particularly tense meeting. She told me that they are declaring war on bloggers. No way could she take the risk. If he found out she was blogging she'd be out on her ear. When I told her not to be silly, she went ballistic - and not for the first time lately. I suppose she is reaching 'the change' age. "Cuthbert" she screamed down the phone. "He's as ruthless as Carl Sergeant - without the sense of humour. He terrifies me. I know he keeps pretending to reassure everyone that he doesn't want to stop the bloggers. But don't you believe it. He's a brute and he won't be happy until he's got Peter Black hanging from a tree by thin wire attached to his testicles."

I asked her what evidence she'd got for this outburst and she emailed me a copy of the missive that Cuthbert (as she now disrespectfully calls the AM for Caerphilly) had sent out to AMs. And she made me promise to reproduce it. And she told me not to be fooled by any bland meaningless reassurances. He wants a ban on AMs blogging. Ever since Peter Black was found guilty of something or other be the Standards Committee and fined nothing and given no lashes at all, the Penn Police have wanted a scapegoat. And they think that Jeff Cuthbert is just the man to deliver. Anyway this is what the instruction from Mr Cuthbert to all AMs said.

We are writing to all AMs today to share our concerns regarding the 'inappropriate' use of Blog sites by Members - and the fact that this use could (and has) led to a potential breach of the Code of Conduct for Assembly Members.

From the outset, we would like to stress that we do not intend to suggest that the use of blogs should be prohibited in any way.......but a clear message must be sent about using such sites appropriately.

One of the main objectives of the Commissioner for Standards is to help build a robust Standards regime within the Assembly. In recent years much has been done to 'educate' Members on standards issues. The Standards Committee shares this view that prevention is better than cure.

In the last 12 months three complaints have been referred to the Committee on Standards of Conduct alleging that inappropriate material had been posted by Assembly Members on Blog sites.......

Members should always bear in mind what is posted to their Blog sites, either by them or a third party, could potentially breach the Code of Conduct for Assembly Members. Paragraph 4(a) of the Code provides that,

Assembly Members should at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of the Assembly, and refrain from any action which would bring the Assembly, or its members generally into disrepute.

And remember little children, that they have ways of making you talk.


Dr. Christopher Wood said...

"Assembly Members should at all times ... refrain from any action which would bring the Assembly or its members generally into disrepute".

I especially like "... at all times ..." So what happens at other times? Shouldn't "should at all times" be condensed to "shall"?

Then that strange "generally". Shouldn't it be left out?

Frankly, this "code" brings the Assembly into disrepute!

Anonymous said...

Big brother is watching -wonder when he bans us all.
May be he should become sa blogger always better with hands on you know JC.

Anonymous said...

Who the heck is Jeff Cuthbert? Yet another assembly member I've never heard of. How many of these people are there?

Glyn Davies said...

anon - Mr Jeff Cuthbert is the Labour Assembly Member for Caerphilly, who succeeded Ron Davies. He is the current Chair of the Assembly's Committee for Standards.

VM - I've never heard Jeff say anything which did not come straight out of the Labour Paty's handbook - and he would probably feel complimented by this description. Not promising blogging material - but you never know.

christopher - I just think it is ludicrous and insults AMs by treating them like children. My immediate temptation would be to test the limits of this missive - and send copies to Jeff Cuthbert.

Miss Wagstaff said...

"I've never heard Jeff say anything which did not come straight out of the Labour Party's handbook"

Could it be that Labour are sick and tired of getting slated by Welsh blogs? Surely not.

The Finch said...

Perhaps it is no bad idea to stop some of the rubbish been blogged.
It only serves to highlight the poor inteligence of some of the Assembly members.
Some of us are best off not knowing the appalling standard of some members.

Ice Pick man said...

What do you expect from someone who supported the Militant Tendency in the 1980s. Once Trot always a Trot I say.

The Finch said...

Perhaps it is no bad idea to stop some of the rubbish been blogged.
It only serves to highlight the poor inteligence of some of the Assembly members.
Some of us are best off not knowing the appalling standard of some members.

Aberdare Blog said...

Aha! So that's why one of the Assembly's most vocal Plaid bloggers disappeared in early January 2008.

We noted the fact way back then, but no one offered an explanation.

It's a little rich to hear a holier-than-thou attitude from Labour given that they were behind the anonymous Natwatch blog.

Holy Moly said...

Well Glyn, even if AMs are having their wings clipped, there are some fearless souls fighting the good fight! The latest scoop from Miss Wagstaff would put Edna Mopbucket to shame -

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Glyn, this 'code' also chills free and open debate - it speaks against the free market of ideas. Frankly, in the USA it would be unconstitutional - and would be unenforceable as a matter of law (meaning anyone subject to this 'code' could file suite in Federal Court and seek to have this 'code' rendered unenforceable on grounds that it is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment on free speech.

Why is the WAG seeking to emulate the Taliban?

What next?

This section of the WAG code should be expunged, with prejudice otherwise even more people will regard the WAG with contempt and derision.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Is Romney thinking of running as an Independent Republican???!!!???

Got to have this on your fantastic web site -

See below - you know what this is signaling? Mitt Romney has calculated that he can't win the nomination and might well go for the 'nuke option', and run as an independent Republican - which will almost certainly split the Republican vote and ensure that the next President will be Obama or Clinton. If so, this is tragic news for the conservatives in the GOP (Republican Party).

Reuters: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mitt Romney will suspend his campaign for the Republican nomination for U.S. president, CNN said on Thursday, citing three party sources."

(You heard it first, on Glyn Davies website)

Anonymous said...

Assembly Members should at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of the Assembly, and refrain from any action which would bring the Assembly, or its members generally into disrepute.

What is the problem with that?
Surely that is only common sense, the assembly is not some kind of
6th form, although you would think it at times.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

An (06:56:00 PM)> because it is FLAT OUT wrong to write code that seeks to chill open and free debate.

The 'code' as written can be used against an AM who criticizes the WAG. This code can be used to chill debate - cause an AM to second guess him/herself prior to posting a message that criticized the WAG for allegedly being incompetent or misleading the public, an issue that goes to credibility of WAG.

This section of code stinks to high heaven and brings the WAG into "general disrepute".

I mean to say, Brits are often critical of the USA, but such repugnant code would be regarded as unconstitutional and would be rendered null and void upon challenge in Federal Court.

Unless WAG repeals this repugnant vile section of code it will be regarded as a Stanlist institution that seeks to chill open and free debate by its AMs on the Internet.

Glyn Davies said...

all - I've been away all day so can only respond briefly now. I want my supper. But I want to thank holy moly for flagging up Miss Wagstaffe's 's blog on the relationship twixt Joyce Watson and Alun Davies. And I've been a bit dissappointed that no-one has tried guessing which member of the Conservative Party, he/she was referring to as the 'leak conduit'. I had guessed where the leak had come from, and I suspect I know the rest of the story as well.

Glyn Davies said...

Miss Wagstaffe - good post on the Davies/Watson row. Hope Edna hasn't started ringing you rather than me. Remember that the Committee is cross party - so we cannot blame the Assembly Government for this bit of nonsense.

the finch - It is right and proper that AMs should take responsibility for what they say and write - and that voters judge them on it. Let them be free to spout rubbish. On their words they will be judged.

ice pick man - I admit that I'm not in the least surprised to read this stuff coming out above the signiature of Jeff Cuthbert - and it sounds as if you're not surprised either.

Aberdare blog - It was a pity to lose her blog because Leanne is an AM with strong opinions - even if I disagree with a fair few of them.

There's a difference between the approach to blogs that can be controlled' and those that cannot. This is why party 'managers' cannot stand them.

Christopher - It is not the WAG that have issued this missive, but a cross party Standards Committee. Doesn't stop it being childish and pointless though.

I understand that Romney has endorsed McCain - hoping for the VP slot perhaps. Is this enough to repair the rift between the two? Romney will have no trouble adjusting his opinions to fit in!!

anon - the advice given to AMs is sensible enough - except that there was no need to give it. Its like telling them not to enter the debating chamber stark naked or with a monkey on their heads. Its so damn obvious that it does not need saying. AMs are not children - and if they are treated like children it will encourage childish behaviour.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Yeah, Mitt Romney seems to have heeded advice and is not going to push the 'nuke option' and run as an independent - I heard his wee speech and he emphasised that it was important, from his perspective, that Obama and/or Clinton should not win the White House.

Miss Wagstaff said...

Holy Moly - Edna Mopbucket has povided Glyn with some great tales from the bay - Glyn's blog wouldn't be the same without cleaner Mopbucket on a mission.

Glyn - I only wish I had Edna's number. It's healthy to know that there's more than one cleaner with two good ears.

Anonymous said...

This is all very small scale stuff.

Glyn Davies said...

christopher - I think Romney could turn out to be a decent candidate next time around - but he must decide what he believes in. McCain has proved that voters will support candidates with differing opinions from themselves if they stand up and fight for what they believe. He looked too much like a chancer. He pulled out at the right time - before it did him any damage. McCain would prefer him to Huckabee as his VP.

Miss Wagstaff - I've heard some fabulous tales fron the cleaners, who see a lot more than politicians realise.

anon - I don't agree with you. The specifics are neither here nor there, but the climate of control freakery and determined efforts to stifle independent thought is a curse of our time. This missive was ridiculous and demonstates the worst sort of childish attempts at bullying.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Didn't Romney give a great terminal speech!

When I heard that he was "suspending" his bid I wondered if it was a tactical move - y waste any more of your own money on not winning the nomination of your party when you can just run as an independent Republican - but this would have been an out and out disaster for the Republicans as it would have split the Republican vote - yes, most Republican voters would still vote for McCain but the split would probably let in the Democratic candidate for President. Romney doesn't like to loose (and said so in his final speech as a Presidential nominee candidate) - so it was a close thing for him pulling out as he did, but he's not endorsed McCain as yet - so Romney could still change his mind, but the chances of this are now greatly reduced because of his "love for America" and desire to let the front runner Republican candidate (who Romney did not mention by name in his swan song speech) a straight run to the GOP convention (where the nomination is finally confirmed) and can save money from now until then for the national Presidential campaign.

McCain is short on money whereas Obama can raise it faster than a moon rocket. So McCain needs time to get his finances up to speed, a continuing fight between Obama and Hillary means both will be spending their campaign funds against each other and less will be available for the final push, but Obama seems to have the momentum to refill his campaign bucket so fast that this might not be an issue for him if he wins the Democratic nomination.