Sunday, August 09, 2009

Lord Elis Thomas in search of a 'Bwgan'.

Long standing readers of this blog will know of my admiration for the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas. He's not quite in the Shane Warne/Ian Botham league of 'making things happen', but Dafydd does add a dash of spice to the depressingly drab politics of Wales. My admiration is founded on Dafydd's Machiavellian cunning, shameless pragmatism, strutting grandeur, and inbuilt 'Welshness' - all put. with a natural selflessness at the service of his and my nation.

But......sometimes he irritates - just like Shane Warne on his mobile. He was at it again last week at the National Eisteddfod. No way was he going to allow the yet to be ennobled Lord Wigley to dominate the headlines with his rather predictable speech about law making powers for the Assembly. He decided to have a dig at the Tories. I didn't comment on the speech at the time - because it niggled me more than the gnats on the terrace at the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel the same evening. In order to ensure that his presence was properly noticed, Dafydd suggested that the current absurd system by which law making powers are being transferred to the National Assembly is under threat if the Conservatives win the next General Election. And Matt Withers, in today's Wales on Sunday has bestowed on the 'heir to Lloyd George' the publicity which he craves.

Let us consider the Lord's concerns. Firstly, there's the failings of the current hideously complex system of transferring powers by means of Legislative Competence Orders. You would be forgiven for thinking it was nothing to do with Lord Elis Thomas himself - but it was none other than he, together with Peter Hain who came up with it, and has defended it, being rather rude to BBC journalists who dared suggest it was a tad too complex to be workable. Truth is it's a dog's breakfast - repast that Dafydd had a hand in creating. And secondly, there is the small matter of two LCOs (relating to housing and the Welsh Language) which have been scuppered by MP's who have utilised constitutional devices which had not been foreseen. MPs gave consideration to LCOs as if they were 'measures' (laws) rather than transfers of the power to make laws - exactly as some of us predicted would happen when the 'bonkers' system was passed into law. But the relevant point here is that it was not the Tories wot done it. We are but a minority on the relevant Westminster committee. It was Paul Murphy and Labour wot done it. Your coalition partners Dafydd. And thirdly, there is the referendum on transferring law making powers in all devolved policy areas to the National Assembly - or moving to Part four of the Government of Wales Act. This was promised by Dafydd's party in May, 2007 - to take place before 2011. If the Conservative Party wins a General Election held in May 2010 (as most now seem to expect), Dafydd's coalition will have had three years to act on its promise. But no. All we've seen is procrastination, faffing around, and coming up with every excuse in the book (and some new ones) to avoid embarrassing those committed Labour referendumites, Touhig, David, Hain and Murphy at Westminster. But as soon as the Tories look as if they might win power, (and there's something typically Welsh about this), there's a 'Bwgan' to blame. So so predictable.

Anyway, you never know. Montgomeryshire might elect a Conservative who will refuse to slot in into the 'Tory image' selected for Conservative MP's that Dafydd and his political colleagues are depending on - someone who is as 'Welsh' as any single one of them. The 'Bwgan' might turn out to be benign.


TCOAH said...

Well Glyn> u must know by now that one big thing concerns me about things Wales, and it's not the issue of more powers to WAG given that WAG has enough powers already to fix the Welsh economy but seems content with the way things are despite the much mouthed dicta that WAG wants more wealth and jobs coming to Wales. Of late having seen how dedicated the people are at International Business Wales I do believe the WAG is doing what it can to bring jobs to Wales.

But on the home front the WAG has yet to get its act together.

I recently compared the Welsh university output of patents with a couple of universities - one in the USA and one in a former third world country.

It makes for disturbing reading.

All the universities in Wales can not match the former third world university and are well behind the US university which has far fewer post-grads than all of the universities in Wales combined (including Swansea and Cardiff).

If the Western Mail picks up on the letter/story you might get to read it Glyn. I cc'ed it to Aled Blake and Sion Barry. "As it happens" ... as you do", I recently spoke to Aled Blake about the stats. In short, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) is not doing a good job, not a bad job either, but an appalling bad job and since the HEFCW is an Assembly Government Sponsored Body this means WAG must take the blame.

Swansea voter said...

Glyn in fairness you have stated on this blog that whilst you will speak for your views you would never vote against the whip and so you will fall into line with the general view of the party. As that is unlikly to be for further powers I can't see in your case how you stand against Dafydd's position? If the electors of your constituency are basing their calls on further powers and making the system work then in theory and certainly I dont think he is a good MP but Lembit opik is at least in a party that is committed to a succesful referendum that will move us a step furtehr away from the current mess of a system that you hate.

Anonymous said...

Following a summer long of utter tripe from the MP for Hello, or sometimes Montgomeryshire, I think your chances of becoming the MP are looking stronger and stronger. What on earth is he doing, aligning himself with Katie Green and her dodgy photo shoots? And then the "are they aren't they" dating fiasco......
When a long period of shutting up was required from him, the publicity junkie that is Lembit Opik just kept on giving and giving to your campaign. Initially I thought you had a tall mountain to climb, now I think it's a mole-hill and that you'll do it. I wish you all the luck in the world, as do somany others here. Don't even get me going on his pathetic calls for privacy for MPs!

Stonemason. said...

You were very kind writing of the erstwhile Lord ... "But......sometimes he irritates ..."

I find him the permanent itch that cannot be reached.

Not being a Welsh speaker I trotted along to the BBC website and translated "Bwgan", nothing simple in this world is there, so which one is it .....


Excellent post

Glyn Davies said...

Swansea voter - Why do you suggest that Conservatives will not be free to campign for a yes vote. I would very surprised if that were to be the case, and will argue strongly against it - which is one reason why I make my views clear now. I've always believed that voting against a thre line whip is more to do with egoi than principle - in most cases anyway. The way to have real impact is to argue for a change of party policy.

Anonymous said...

He no Lloyd-George!

Anonymous said...

An incisive commentary on the strategy of Plaid Cymru and Dafydd El to demonise the Conservatives. Please do whatever you can to prevent the new Cameron Government from appearing anti the Assembly. If the AMs call for a referendum in 2010, they will try to win it by portraying you as hostile to Welsh interests, and hope that voters will want to transfer power from Westminster to Cardiff Bay. Glyn you can clearly see what they are up to. Now its up to you to persuade your colleagues to do something about it.