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.