It really is difficult concept for me to grasp - being grouped with other MPs as members of what is being referred to as the 'Brokeback Club'. How could such a thing happen. My aim when setting out on my first journey to Westminster on the morning of 10th May was to give total support to David Cameron, and over the next few days it morphed into giving total support to the Liberal Democrat Conservaive Coalition Government. I remain totally committed to supporting the Prime Minister and the Coalition Government. Even though in Montgomeryshire, the Conservative's opponents have always been the Liberal Democrats. Its all a bit odd. But my commitment to working with the Lib Dems at Westminster is solid, and I readily admit to being impressed by all the Lib Dem members of the Cabinet. So what's gone wrong. I'll tell you what's gone wrong. It's the date of the proposed AV referendum (May 5th) that's gone wrong. It's totally unacceptable to me. May 5th is the date of the general election to the National Assembly for Wales. For three years I have argued that another constitutional referendum (on law making powers for the Assembly) should not be held on May 5th 2011, so how on earth can I accept that an AV referendum can be held on the same date. In fact this new proposal is much much worse.
In my opinion, there should be public coverage of, and voter engagement with the campaign before the Welsh General Election - and do you think it will get a sniff if there's an AV referendum on the same day. No way, Jose. And there's going to be one hell of a row about the equalisation of constituencies as part of the Bill as well. Most of the newspapers read in Wales are printed outside of Wales, and the Welsh General Election is going to be the biggest non event since National Tiddlywinks Week. In my opinion, if the date is not changed the AV referendum will be lost. The voters never like being treated like dupes.
Since I'm looking for ways to be nice to Lib Dems, I watched Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain being completely demolished by the Lib Dems Deputy Leader, Simon Hughes on Newsnight as I was writing this post. Simon won about 10-0. And that's even with a bit of me starting off on on Peter's side. The argument was about whether the proposal to equalise the size of constituencies (part of the AV Bill) amounts to 'gerrymandering'. And Peter knows a bit about 'gerrymandering' of course. He was the politician who banned dual candidacy (as constituency and regional candidates) in Welsh Assembly elections to suit Labour - as good an example of 'gerrymandering' as you will ever encounter. He does not have a case. The truth is that if constituencies are equalised across the UK, the number of MPs representing Welsh constituencies will fall from 40 to about 30. Simple arithmetic Peter - and no amount of synthetic bluster will change.
Anyway, back to the point of this post. All I've done is repeat what I've been saying for years (and which was supported by everyone apart from some Plaid Cymru supporters who may have spotted some scope for electoral advantage) - and then sign an Early Day Motion (that's right - just about the most innocuous form of writing its possible to devise) and I'm a 'rebel'. Trouble is that this sort of thing makes me that bit more bloody minded.