I've never met Mohammad Asghar. Until today he was a Plaid Cymru Assembly Member, representing South East Wales. Today he caused a bit of turbulence in Welsh politics by defecting to the Conservative Group in the National Assembly for Wales. I thought it was considerate to the sensitivities of Plaid Cymru that Mohammad and the Conservatives announced the defection on a day when the news could slip in quietly, overshadowed by the retirement of Rhodri Morgan.
So happens that I was a guest on Radio Cymru's 'Taro Post' today - with Helen Mary Jones, who remains a Plaid AM and is a prominent spokesperson for the party, and a fellow old pupil of Caereinion High School in Montgomeryshire. Our topic was 'Rhodri's legacy' but inevitably Mohammad's defection cropped up. Helen Mary had first go, and started banging on about Margaret Thatcher and John Redwood. I couldn't make much of what she was saying, but to be fair, she was holding a c*** hand. Anyway, when my turn came, I just said how pleased we were that Mohammad had decided to join us, and that I knew he'd been impressed by the Conservative Group in the National Assembly, and the leadership of David Cameron. Playing it cool was best, I thought.
Helen Mary also said that Mohammad should resign, a call made by others, including the leading Welsh pundit, Daran Hill. I was a bit non-committal on this. In general, I support the principle that when an elected representative changes parties mid-stream, they should resign, and seek re-election carrying their new colours. If he'd been elected as a 'constituency' AM, you would probably find evidence in previous posts of my view that resignation is the appropriate honourable course. But Mohammad is a 'regional' member, and all he would do by resigning is hand the seat to another Plaid Cymru member. He would not be able to fight an election. This rather confuses the issue. Interestingly, if no-one on the list Plaid Cymru presented at the last election in South Wales East were to be in a position to step into the shoes of a resigning Mohammad Asghar, the seat would lie vacant until the next General Election. (It seems that since the 2006 Government of Wales Act, this is the correct terminology). Proportional Representation is a complex business. In summary, this blog extends to Mohammad, a warm welcome onto our team.
UPDATE - Seems that I've misrepresented Daran's take on it. Better read his blog on it, or his comment.