Thursday, March 06, 2008

So its an 8.3% increase.

Plaid Cymru have really 'p***ed in the fat' tonight by breaking ranks on the recommendation of the National Assembly Commission to grant an 8.3% increase in salary for Assembly Members. We've known for a while that this big increase was coming - as a result of the extra powers granted to the Assembly under the second Government of Wales Act. I remember Edna Mopbucket telling me that she'd heard some 'champagne celebrations' on the back of this monster boost in salary before Xmas. Plaid have ensured that the announcement has been made with a bit of 'fizz'.

Now, I've got a fair idea how these things work. I used to be a member of the House Committee, the predecessor to the Assembly Commission. There would have been a determined attempt to secure 'all party agreement' to accept this increase, keep their heads down and leave it to 'the appointed one' to face the media - which in this case looks to have been William Graham. But it looks as if Plaid Cymru have seen an open goal over this, and I reckon they might score one or two as well. I reckon there's probably a fair bit of bad feeling around Cardiff Bay tonight. It was interesting to see that Plaid Cymru AM and Llywydd, Lord Elis Thomas speaking out in support of the increase. I wonder if Plaid Cymru AMs are going to take the increase? And not just for one year either. If at any stage in the future, Plaid politicians decide to take any of this increase (beyond the 2% inflationary bit), we should make sure that they take the hit then. I've asked Edna to keep an eye on this for me.


Anonymous said...

how on earth can this massive increase be justified? this is another example of greed. politicians just dont get how much contempt inw hich they are held. this will finish the assembly in many peoples eyes.

Anonymous said...

Read some where they might have to have an odd meeting on a third day of the week in Cardiff soon.
Poor buggers!

Anonymous said...

well, what does it bring their basic up to - and how do we measure their performance I have no problem in paying for quality, but not all of these AMs come into that category.
If they were in the private sector they would have had their marching boots a while ago.
So lets pay and get the quality we need to run Wales properly, but on the proviso, if they dont match up to targets and quality , then out they go.
Glyn I so disagree with the comments on you being too nice. What I look for in a politician is the ability to judge fairly and understand the elements of an issue, you do both in spades, and no bloggers I am not a Tory.
Also I was up in Montgomery yesterday, what a lovely place, enjoyed lunch at the Ivy - what amazing cakes!

Left Field said...

I remember my father telling me about a colleague of his in the Labour Party who said "There are some people in this party who don't want to change society, they just want to change places." The same is apparently true of Plaid.

Although let's not forget that MPs have been giving themselves tidy payrises since I can remember.

Things like this demean all politicians. In the 80s I used to regularly hear on the doorstep "I'm not voting, you're all in it for what you can get." As a humble canvasser, I got nothing but blisters on my feet. But, I'm starting to agree with that voter and the anarchists who say "Don't vote, it only encourages them."

Stuart Rendel said...

If they agree to this increase then they can kiss goodbye to winning a yes vote in any future referendum. The political class in the Bay must be living in a different world to the rest of Wales. Vaughn Roderick's analysis this morning on the effect of this crazy decision was spot on. Dafydd Elis Thomas's dig at the MPs just made it worse. The trouble with Dafydd El is that the Marxist in him leads him to be believe that more powers for the assembly is inevitable. He is going to have the shock of his life when the referendum campaign starts and the no voters come out of the closet. Yesterday could go down as the day that the devolution project hit the buffers. No wonder sensible members of Plaid have come out aginst it. They know the anger that this will cause across Wales.I just wish politicians would stop this nonsense of deserving it because they work hard. Being an elected politicisn should be seen as a privilege not the road to a better life style. How can you compare the life style of a politician to that of a farmer or an industrial worker. They should try working in a factory for low wages to see what hard work really is. Attending mmetings and reading background papers is not hard work particularly if you have the talent and ability to be a politician at the highest level. The problem with the Asssembly is thta so few AMS have any talent whatsoever.Ron Davies wanted the best and we've ended up with the second eleven to quote Churchill. Politicians such as Keir Hardie, Nye Bevan and on the Conservative side Churchill must be spinning in their graves. They did it not for the money but because they believed in something and wanted to make the world a better place. Perhaps it's about time that we elected politcians who are prepared to stick up for the values and principles that once made voters proud of Brtish politics.

Anonymous said...

all i can say is that if our AM's believe that they deserve an 8.3% increase in salary then they should have the good grace to come out and make a case for it instead of hiding away and hoping this will go away. Its not been a good week for the Assembly all round has it.

what's the point of having yourself Glyn and a political analyst from the politics institute at Aberystwyth Uni on the BBC Wales Phone In when what they needed were AM's of any political colour, not that i didn't appreciate what you and Roger had to say.

They are just showing the welsh public contempt and I speak as someone who believes in devolution and campaigned for it.

Glyn Davies said...

All this is worth a seperate post. I 'appeared' on the Richard Evans programme today. Arrived expecting to do a quick 2 minute interview and found myself on a phone-in for an hour. This is desperately bad PR for the Assembly, and for that reason needs to be considered in a serious way - but no time now.

Showa said...

Lisrtened to you on the radio. Excellent sensible contribution as usual. But this is a disaster for devolution as Roger Scully pointed out. I'm not surprised that the independent body reached the conclusion they did given the tone and content of the briefing papers provided by the civil servants. the impression was given that the new scrutiny committees and the LCos had transformed the lives of AMs. They now have to it seems read background papers and do some research in order to perform their duties. Given that it takes the average AM at least a fortnight to read the Beano no wonder they need more money.

Anonymous said...

This is quite revolting, when police officers and nurses are getting less than 2%. These people are little more than county councillors. Their budget is tiny in a national context. They are simply greedy and I have no doubt that the whole of Wales will be utterly disgusted.

Glyn Davies said...

Anons - yours is the reaction I'm hearing from most people. Its been a bad day for the Assembly.

VM - Lots of people are commenting that the salary should be related to the individual quality of the AMs - but no-one can say how such a system could work. The problem is that so many voters support a party blindly even when the candidate is an idiot - in my opinion undermining the whole basis of democracy.
I'm not keen on being described as 'nice' - even if its usually qualified by something like 'for a Tory'. But since my success depends on people who vote for other parties switching their vote, it doesn't seem very smart to be not nice to them!
Montgomery is a lovely town. Did you walk up to the Castle and appreciate the views of the Severn Valley.

left field and Stuart - I don't think we can describe today as anything but a PR disaster for the Assembly. I agree with anon that more of them should have been willing to publicly defend the increase in person. The reason that the BBC asked me to respond to the phone-in was probably because no-one else would. When I was an AM, I was always stuck with defending allowances etc. - simply because I take the view that since its public money, you should face the public to justify how you use it.

I agree with Stuart about the daftness of trying to justify this increase by claiming to work hard. Lots of people work much harder and receive less. The case for this increase is that since last May, the job AMs do carries more responsibility than previously and that independent assessment of the new job spec (compared with an MP) is that it carries so much more responsibility that the salary should be higher. That is the honest answer and is the only one that should have been used.

The only possible upside that I can see from today's PR fiasco is that political parties and voters will feel pressurised into choosing the best people for the job, rather people who are compliant and won't cause any bother by thinking independently.

Ian said...

Speaking as someone who works in the public sector, I cannot understand why the other parties apart from Plaid did not see this coming? I accept that the increase is probably justified due to increased roles and responsibilities, but if fairness is to be the judge then what has been fair about 100,000's of Welsh public sector workers receiving below inflation pay rises? With the squeeze of fuel bills and diesel/petrol prices piling on the pressure, people will see AMs boosted salaries as further evidence of a yawning gap between the Bay and the rest of Wales.

I recognise that the Plaid AMs who have refused the large pay rise will cause chaos, but only in the Ty Crickhowell canteen. People want to see their politicians as in touch and accepting this pay rise under current circumstances has been hugely damaging to the whole Assembly. It's been a bad day for Wales and I only hope that the weekend rugby, boxing and soccer cheer us up.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Perhaps it would be timely if an investigative journalist looked into what certain ‘hardworking’ AMs do. A few suggestions: park up outside a brothel with "eyes wide open"; check out badger haunts - especially near Baaaaath; "ask Jeeves" or Christine Davies; request copies of AM expenses paid for by the taxpayer - under FOIA; et cetera, et cetera, et cetera! (Said in the voice of the Yul Brynner in 'The King and I' (1956).

Ian said...

Dr Wood,
I believe that AMs are under far more media scrutiny than many of our MPs and MEPs. Why aim your criticism at just one layer of democracy when all should be accountable?

Ian said...

On another point, I summarise that you didn't get your doctorate in humour.

Anonymous said...

"On another point, I summarise that you didn't get your doctorate in humour."

You mean "surmise", not "summarise", you plonker.

Ian said...

Apologies, but at least I am not an anonymous plonker.

Glyn Davies said...

Ian - As far as I know, Plaid didn't see it coming either. Most of the Plaid AMs are taking the increase (as far as I know) and their leader supports the proposals.

I respect the decision by the 6 Plaid refusniks - as long as they mean it and its not just for one year, with the increases being accepted when no-one is looking later on. But it cannot be said to be Plaid policy. The rugby has certainly cheered us up!

Ian and Anon - fight.

Anonymous said...

"Ian said...

Apologies, but at least I am not an anonymous plonker."

Yes you are - until you tell us your full name. Are you perhaps Ian Botham, or Ian McKellen, or Ian Kennedy?

No, you're just a plonker.

Ian said...

A pity about the boxing though. I am not sure if the pay rise affects Ministers or the Presiding Officer and would welcome clarification. I wait to see the position of the other 4 Plaid AMs who have yet to declare their stance. There has been no party whip on this. It has been down to individual AMs.

The fact remains that public sector workers are furious about it and no matter how justified the rise in terms of responsibilities, the timing and having the rise in one lump has furthered the divide between the public and the NAofW. Any AM intent on standing up for public sector pay in the forceable future will recieve accusations of hypocracy and if you were in that position, how would you handle it?

Talk of 'independent commission' and 'the same as Northern Ireland' is not going to wash. From the perspective of public sector workers, their roles and responsibilities have been de-recognised by having a below inflation pay rise. Why should AMs be a special case in front of a police officer, a nurse or a refuse collector?

I believe that the vast majority of AMs are hard working and do not deserve the weekly media jibes that our MPs generally avoid. This is however an own goal that should have been avoided and I wait with interest to see how this issue is dealt with next week.

Glyn Davies said...

Ian - I'd thought Hayes would be too strong. A step too far for Enzo.

The increases are across the board - and its 9 Plaid AMs who have not said they are declining the money (I think). By any normal measurement, Plaid Cymru are currently in favour of the 8.3% increase - plus the extra allowances for other positions which seems not to have attracted much public comment.

Its difficult to know what I would have done had I still been an AM. But I would have made my opinion known in my group and accepted the group decision (Plaid have made themselves look very amateurish over this). I would have been very cross if I'd been prevented from defending any decision in public. Also, if I'd been there next week, I would have asking about the possibility of phasing the increase. There is a certain logic in this, in that the new law making power will only grow as LCO's are passed