Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Welcome Mohammad.

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.

25 comments:

Dyfrig said...

I find your reasoning to be slightly strange. Had Mr Asghar been elected for a constituency seat, I would be quite prepared for him to continue in the job. After all, on a constituency level, you cast a vote directly for an individual, and people often vote for candidates they like from parties they may not identify very strongly with. But the people of South Wales East didn't cast a vote for Mohammad Asghar. They voted for a party, Plaid Cymru, and have a right to be represented by a member of that party. Any honourable politician would realise that Asghar lacks a democratic mandate, and press him to stand down. Let him make his case to the people in 2012.

Dyfrig said...

I mean 2011, not 2012.

Glyn Davies said...

Dyfrig - Not sure I agree with you that a 'constituency' AM is elected on a personal mandate. I accept that is the constitutional position, but the reality is that the party label carries most influence. I entirely accept what you write. All I was doing is taking a realistic view. A 'constituency' AM who defects can resign and fight the by-election. A'regionnal' AM cannot. I just stating the fact.

Anonymous said...

its the assembly election in 2011 not a general election glyn.

Anonymous said...

With Plaid Whinging that MA should resign, it will teach them to be more careful who they put in the Number One (and possibly #2) slots on the five Regional Lists.

I find it quite amusing!!!!!!

Daran said...

"Helen Mary also said that Mohammad should resign, a call made by others, including the leading Welsh pundit, Daran Hill."

Did I? Thought I just brought into play the ethical dimension - or rather gave a platform to that call from Plaid.

The one thing that I have been doing on blogs today are wondering whether Plaid's selection and vetting procedures are up to scratch if a unionist and monarchist can get selected and elected for them...

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - Apparantly, the term Assembly Election was replaced by General Election when the Government of Wales Act 2006 was passed.

Anon 2 - Mohammad's election was greeted by whoops of joy from the Plaid Cymru representative on the Radio Wales panel on election night. I remember the night well. I was the 'Conservative' panellist, who commented on my own demise.

Daran - Sorry. I read only the first part of your post, and have misrepresented it. Second update of the night called for.

Anonymous said...

It's fairly obvious how Asghar got through the selection procedure. He was waved through to help detoxify Plaid's brand (see also the recent party political broadcast - 'You don't have to be a Welsh speaker to be a Plaidi').

alanindyfed said...

Musical Chairs - if Moh.Asghar can switch his allegiance to the Conservatives, similarly Glyn Davies can switch to Plaid. That's only fair! ;-)

alanindyfed said...

Let Defectors Depart and the Cause is Strengthened (see my blog)

Anonymous said...

Cannot wait to see what the Tories have offered him, because lets be honest the next election he is going to find it hard to keep his seat, we know he is looking to go up wards to the Parliament in England so you must have offered him something

alanindyfed said...

I do not doubt that Moh. Asghar's defection will also be met by "whoops of joy" in some Plaid quarters as the party does not want in its ranks a member with unionist views opposed to Plaid's avowed policies and who does not have the true interests of Wales at heart (see my blog).
Furthermore, he should step down as he no longer represents the people who voted him into the Assembly.
He comes to you with a tainted history.

alanindyfed said...

'You don't have to be a Welsh speaker to be a Plaidi'

This fact is axiomatic and was always so, and most thinking people recognise this. At least this purpose was well served at a time when some people might have questioned it.

Anonymous said...

As you know Glyn, Oscar became an AM via the regional list system, he was not directly elected but became an AM from electors who specifically voted Plaid. His decision not to stand down is dishonourable and may face legal challenge, however there is another issue that needs consideration. AMs employ staff to assist in their duties and this is done by party grouping. The staff that worked for Oscar found out they may have lost their jobs in a Tory press conference, even though their contract of employment lasts until 2011. Oscar did not even tell his own staff that he would be defecting. Oscar has chosen not to do the honourable thing, but will the Tory party now do the honourable thing for him, and fund the severance payments of the staff that loyally worked for him ? They did a good professional job and this mans defection is not their fault.

Anonymous said...

Lembit Opik has been on a free luxury cruise whilst parliament is sitting. Could we have your thoughts on this Glyn? And could this at long last be the time that you start making comments publicly about him?

Anonymous said...

Glyn,
You know very well that the regional list vote is for a party and not an individual. Therefore, the democratic choice of the electorate of the SE has been ignored by your party, for accepting him. So much for believing in democracy!

I would like to hear your opinion on both Oscar and your party not having the decency to inform his staff, before he defected. What does that say about your attitude to employees? The two staff in question are out of a job after Friday and with no compensation offered either by Oscar or your party.

Oscar is frankly a handful and many of your AMs spent their time mocking him behind his back. This may explain why only four of them were told before the press conference.

All in all, no-one has come well out of this. Plaid are asking how they managed to choose this individual, the Tories appear to be prepared to accept almost anyone (even someone who will employ family members)and Oscar has shown himself up as utterly dishonourable.

Quite how you see anything positive about this is beyond me, but I would say however that any embers of warmth towards the Lib Dem scuppered Rainbow Alliance, have been well and truly doused in Plaid. Prepare for perpetual opposition in Wales, Glyn. No wonder you are going to London.

prized said...

Just goes to show that Plaid with its bias is not the party to lead Wales - look at how their current leader puffs up about boosting the Welsh economy while the latest GVA stats show that Wales has an economy that is 25% below the UK GVA average. ("Wales at the bottom of the economic table in the UK data confirms"; Aled Blake reporter/article in Business News, Wales Online.)

mitylowh said...

Alanindyfed> you are joking yes? You infer that Plaid has taken the high road on boosting the interests of Wales yet your own Party can't deliver a decent Welsh economy - your leader is the Deputy First Minister - and where is the Welsh economy? Oh, 25% below the UK GVA average - see the latest stats on the Welsh economy - see Aled Blakes comments in Wales Online: "Wales at the bottom of the economic table in the UK data confirms" (Business News, Wales Online)

Anonymous said...

Decades of mis-rule by Britain and a directionless Welsh Labour party, cannot be turned around in 2years.

Anonymous said...

Morally Oscar should walk, legally he can do what he wishes, politically it's worth remembering he's a bloody useless AM anyway and now with very few friends left in the Assembly. A lonely journey to the door?

Valleys Mam said...

This man lied his way in , well he has been all colours except the yellow, watch out Lib Dems
I am sad that Nick Bourne didnt tell him to go away.
He was unhappy with Plaid as they wouldnt let him employ his daughter as a PR person
Plaid had decided to impose that rule right after all the whoo haa over expenses. Dont forget he was also employing his wife
Glyn you would not condone this stuff you are too straight

alanindyfed said...

It appears that you may need to think about retracting your "Welcome to Mohammad" Glyn.
He may yet prove to be an embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

Glyn,
Without wanting to be too patronising, you are pretty honest as politicians go and widely respected. Oscar is neither and behind the superficial charm, is an individual who is milking the system. With only 60 AMs, Wales could do without such representatives-whichever party they belong to.

Glyn Davies said...

All - probably best if I retire from any further comment on this. You know. Part of the team etc....

Joseff said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/betsanpowys/2009/12/back_in_the_room.html