Friday, December 12, 2008

Heads Down Time.

Another really bad day for democracy in Wales. Details of Assembly Member's allowances have been made public today. Hell of a hoo-hah. And there really shouldn't have been. The actuality is that the National Assembly has a genuinely accountable and transparent system of member expenses - which is not the case in some other Parliaments. What really depresses me is that no AMs were prepared to face the media to justify their claims. I've never agreed with 'under the desk' approach, which seems to have been by cross party agreement today. As always the media asked me to do the justifying - because for the last few years I've always been willing to do it. However, I'd arranged it so that I couldn't do the Richard Evans Phone-in on Radio Wales today. After watching Dragon's Eye last night, it was obvious that my party was going to be in the firing line. It just didn't seem to be my place to justify things, so I arranged lunch, in order that I could genuinely say I was committed elsewhere. Didn't like it though. Never like ducking the flak.

But I did make a few comments for Radio Cymru - in Welsh. And that's because my excuse of being in a restaurant fell over , because Gwenllian Grigg was happy to do the interview over a mobile phone!! The comments I made were based on two personal principles. Firstly, any politician who makes a claim on the taxpayer should be willing to face the media to justify it. I couldn't hide my disappointment with today's response from AMs. And Secondly, I gave my full support to Sir Roger Jones and his committee as they inquire into what should be an appropriate expenses regime. Of course, some people will not accept that politicians should have any expanses, but Sir Roger must recommend some clear guidelines which the majority of people will support.

I was also deeply unimpressed that the information was published on the day after Assembly Members had left Cardiff Bay for the Christmas recess. It just added to the appearance of politicians not being prepared to stand up and be counted for the way they had used taxpayer's money. OK, so this may be off the front pages by next week - but its been a damaging day for Welsh democracy. Final nail in the coffin of a referendum on law making powers for the National Assembly - not logical I know, but factual nonetheless.


bethan said...

Glyn, I haven't had any requests for interviews. I am happy to justify my claims. There is an independent review now- regardless of the fact that many AMs may or may not be happy with the comments that he made on Dragon's Eye. I think that we should release the information on a more regular basis. The more open and transparent we are, the better.

Welsh Assembly Mess said...

Much of the public are likely to view this as sheer arrogance and folly, which in combination with the what many perceive as a direct attack on Christianity actively sponsored by the Welsh Assembly (sponsoring poet to read disgusting poems against the beliefs of people of faith), many Welsh people will be looking at the Welsh Assembly in a different light.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

In light of the deplorable actions by some Welsh Assembly AMs in sponsoring the disgusting poet reading - how about the Welsh Conservatives sponsoring a Welsh display and exhibition of important Welsh inventions with readings of extracts from issued/registered patents with Welsh inventors?

To show that Wales is outward looking and international, the patent extracts could be read from overseas patents, e.g., American, Canadian, Australian patents listing Welsh inventors.

I would be very willing to provide PDF copies of public patent documents - I will download them from patent offices across the world.

Might sound boring to some, but there are some very bright youngsters who want to build future businesses through Welsh innovation. Making science, technology and innovation look cool and rewarding, with very positive benefits for Wales, might help the Welsh Assembly to be viewed in better light.

Glyn Davies said...

Bethan - I suspect many AMs will feel as you do. I too would have been happy to justify my claims, but today, the issue would have been the details of claims made by others which I didn't want to comment on. However, all the parties must have decided that no-one was going to be put up - and that brings criticism down on all of us - in my opinion. The way to handle this would have been for the details to have been published on Monday, as anticipated, and for all parties to have put up a safe pair of hands to answer questions at a press conference.
I agree with the rest of your comment.

WAM - On both counts, I agree that this week has been a very bad week for our National Asembly.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

PS I would be willing to write a seasonal story about a Welsh inventor and his/her struggles to win jobs for Welsh people.

Welsh Goblets of Fire ... not quite, but I could come up with a even snappier title.

"Just for Fun", but 'out of fun' can come 'great things'.

WAM's Magic Wand said...

The ridiculing of Christian groups on Peter Black's website just adds radioactive coating to the Welsh Assembly ... only a matter of time before somebody in the media picks up on this.

Gary said...

Glyn, I got some of the earlier details from my own freedom of information request, I'm totally disgusted with the way AM's have the front to spend tax payers money in such a way that it only benefits them, when many of their constituents are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet, maybe you would tell me what bedroom and bathroom furniture you brought with your claim of £49.97? and what has happened to then now you are no longer a AM?

Glyn Davies said...

Gary - Sorry but I don't know what the £49.97 was spent on. I suspect it was spent on bed linen of some sort - and currently its all in store. I spent very little of my allowance on this sort of thing - because all of it was used up paying most of the mortgage interest on the flat. I still have a fully equipped flat in Cardiff Bay, which I was stuck with when I surprisingly lost my seat. I'm still not sure what to do with it, but will almost certainly keep it until 2011 - just in case. Its a problem for me that if I sold it now, I would lose quite a lot of money on it.

Boracic said...

Glyn said.....
Its a problem for me that if I sold it now, I would lose quite a lot of money on it.

Boracic says.....

Shouldn't that read "We'll lose quite a lot of money on it?".

Surely we taxpayers were paying that mortgage interest which you will no doubt refund to us on the sale of this flat?

Clearly you wouldn't wish to make a profit from what can only be described as 'public funds'.

Glyn Davies said...

Boracic - Don't follow your point. Choices for me were renting somewhere, staying in a hotel, or buying a flat close to the office. Costs to ther public purse are the same, except there by buying somewhere, I take a personal risk in that the capital value of the flat may change. In my case the value has fallen significantly. I should add that only interest on the mortgage is paid, not any repayment which I paid.

I can understand an opinion that Assembly Members should pay for their own accommodation - but why would you support the repayment of mortgage interest any more than rent or hotel bills? And as for profit, it may well be that if I sold now, my loss would be more than any mortgage interest paid by 'the public purse' over the years.

Anonymous said...

what did you thinkl of todays western mails treatment of your arsembly leader glyn. are u still defending him.

News Sauce: the P-Man said...

With the recent dynamic of Kirsty Williams in the Welsh political cooking pot, what does this mean for Welsh politics? Are we talking red ketchup or brown sauce? Perhaps mustard?

On the assumption that the Welsh Labour Party (WLP) maintains its current form this is how the Welsh political flower garden (WPFG) might bloom come next national election:

Scenario #1: Current leader of the Welsh Conservative Party (CLOT WCP) stays in-situ; outcome: Welsh Lib-Dems (WLD) will likely gain more seats at the expense of the WCP; and

Scenario #2: CLOT WCP is replaced with: (i) someone who the Welsh electorate relates to and likes, and (ii) someone else. Outcome re: #2(i): WLD's aspirations don't harvest significant political fruit; re: #2(ii) WLD's aspirations likely to harvest a moderate amount of political fruit at the expense of the WLP and WCP.

Conclusion: the WCP have it to loose - WLD can only win more seats if the WCP drops the ball and keeps their current leader in-situ.

Action: Change of WCP leadership.

Time Frame: after Xmas to middle of 2009.

PS Only my personal view, I am not speaking for anyone else or any other organization political or otherwise. I'm just a 'Welsh pigeon' (P-Man) of moderate means, who has circled Wales a sufficient number of times to orientate a sufficient amount of bio-magnetic compound to know where home is, WALES!

Chris said...

Darren Millar is behaving very badly, briefing the Western Mail and the BBC against Nick Bourne. Journalists are quite disgusted with his conduct, although we'll never turn a story down. It's going down badly within the Tory party too.

Gorseinon said...

I'm still not sure what to do with it, but will almost certainly keep it until 2011 - just in case.

Just in case of what? You surely aren't thinking of standing for the welsh assembly yet again? What the heck is the point? Not wanting to be personal, but you're no spring chicken are you? And if you do want to go to the assembly, why are you bed-blocking some younger person who might want to have a shot at Parliament?

eric said...

am pleased the assembly is publishing these claims...the debate will create a much more opne and justifiable system.
Me - I'd have a web page accessible to all that am's go to to cliam, they state what they want to claim for and how much and why, and keep recipts for the eventual audit. (Possibly even where that item is now - in the case of laura ann jones tv which surely has to be returned or paid for. )
Each claim is then approved or rejected online for all to see, totally open. No one should have a problem with this. While there is a fuss for what has been claimed, I have heard of what was rejected. Be very interesting if some of those came out into the open.

Glyn Davies said...

I'm going to comment on some of the internal party stuf later.

Gorseinion - Because I'm next on the Conservative list in Mid and West Wales, I would automatically be returned to Cardiff Bay in the event of Nick Bourne standing down as an AM. Now its highly unlikely that this is going to happen - but as I commented 'Just in case'.

The rest of your comment is unpleasantly ageist.

Anonymous said...

I don't think "internal party stuff" should be commented on in a public blog.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - Trust me. As it happens its gone too late now. Will probably do so tomorrow. It would be an odd political blog if it didn't comment on matters relating to my own party. But this blog does not set out to embarrass my own party. This does make it a bit partisan on times, but I think visitors accept that. My post would have been based on my general opinion that all politicians who make a clain on the public purse should be prepared to stand before the media and justify it. But its not possible to comment on this without some reference to my party because of the way its been reported.

D-Man said...

What's with the leader of the Welsh Conservative Party (LWCP) not ducking a single Ipod when Bush can duck two fast moving and well aimed shoes?

Talk about lame duck President Bush - he didn't look anything like lame when he waved off his Secret Service guard.

But the LWCP can't even manage downloading Welsh language tutorials without looking like a lame duck.