Been up to Llandudno today. Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) Annual Conference. I was participating in a panel discussion about blogs, and their influence with Peter Black AM and Lee Waters, Chief Executive of Sustrans, who used to do a bit of blogging himself. Lee made a very good opening speech. Any representative of a political constituency association who happened to be there would have been very impressed! It was all the talk over lunch. Rhun ap Iorwerth of BBC fame chaired the session.
Attending these local council events is a bit like going home for me. Stuffed full of people I know and like, but rarely see. Wyn Evans from Carmarthen, Keith Evans from Ceredigion, Janet Finch-Saunders from Conwy, Bob Parry from Ynys Mon etc. - and a whole tableful from Powys. Stephen Hayes from Montgomery asked Andrew Davies a cracking question about the non-recognition of Mid Wales.
Seemed to be two discussions going on, the first being the fall-out from the Icelandic investments that may never be repaid. Paul Murphy was at the Conference, informing us that since Local Government is devolved, compensation is down to the National Assembly. He was sitting next to Assembly Government Finance Minister, Andrew Davies when he said it. Must have come as a bit of a surprise to Andrew, since I understand he told AMs this week that the Treasury would pick up the tab. I think some councillors were under the impression that Gordon Brown has declared war on Iceland and is treating Icelandic nationals as terrorists. I told them that I didn't think this was true. A lot of tosh being talked about these losses (if that's what they be) having no effect on public serevices or council tax. £4 million in Powys! Of course there'll be an impact. Only question is when it will be felt.
Sir Emyr Jones-Parry, Paul Murphy, and Dafydd Elis Thomas were the panel for an earlier session. Pity I missed it. I'd have enjoyed the squirming. Here we have one of the most able former diplomats in the world, trying to make out that his current non-job is of some significance to the future governance of Wales. I wonder whether Dafydd El or Paul Murphy said they favoured a referendum. Doubt it. I hope Sir Emyr realises what his role is - to create the pretext on which the Assembly Coalition partners can renege on their referendum promise.
I was interested in Lee Water's opinion that the 'Rainbow' coalition is back on the agenda. He reckons that the Assembly Coalition won't survive the retirement of Rhodri Morgan. Personally I think this is unlikely until 2011, but I've always thought it a possibility. Won't happen until the General election is out of the way. Will keep an eye on this. Smart boy, that Lee Waters. Will go far.