Thursday, October 28, 2010

Getting our Priorities Wrong.

Been an MP for almost six months. The most contentious issue by a country mile has been the proposal to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 - combined with equalisation in the number of electors in each constituency (to within a 5% tolerance). And nowhere in the UK has the anger been more fierce than in Wales where extrapolation of the the maths leads to a decrease from 40 to 30 Welsh MPs. I'm not going into the 'ins and outs' of the Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill, but there are some interesting little bonfires burning alongside the main conflagration.

Firstly, there has been the incredible waste of Parliamentary time during the Committee stage of consideration of the Bill, which lasted for 5 days. Seemed to me that Labour wanted to be able to say there was no time to consider Welsh clauses, so they filibustered for hours on end to ensure this absence of time became a reality. Welsh Labour MP, Chris Bryant must have spoken for over 3 hours. Some might think this very 'clever'. I think it is very childish indeed, and makes a fool of our democratic processes. Be interesting to know how much this silly exercise has cost.

Secondly there has been an ongoing campaign by Labour MPs demanding a meeting of the Welsh Grand Committee to consider the Bill's impact on Wales. It's the Secretary of State's call, and she has said No - because there has been plenty of time for debate during Committee stage, which Labour, led by the afore-mentioned impressively garrulous Welsh Labour MP rendered large parts of as pointless. Latest chapter in this ongoing saga is that a Labour MP has secured a 90 minute debate in Westminster Hall on Tuesday, where the same arguments are going to be recycled - like a bottle of cheap wine at a coffee morning raffle. I will be there, but because I'm a PPS will not be able to speak. Don't like this at all. Its a convention that makes no sense to me. It will not be a debate for anyone seeking innovative thinking.

And thirdly there's the rebirth of some moribund long-forgotten body called the Welsh Parliamentary Party. It seems that Labour MPs have not taken well to opposition. So they are going to recreate something where they can play out being the Government again. I'm told there's a meeting of this body on Wednesday - the first since way back in the last century. I'm toying with the idea of going - but maybe not. Will have heard it all in Westminster Hall on Tuesday. I suppose I shouldn't be mean spirited about it, and hope that have a jolly nice evening.

I wonder if all the people we represent in Parliament are as exercised as MPs are about there being 50 less of us after the next election. Somehow I think I know the answer to that.


Stephen R Jones said...

Enjoyed your blog post

I don't think Wales or anywhere else in UK will ever witness a protest march with a "We want more MPs - and we want them now" banner. :-)

Radical Wales said...

" The most contentious issue by a country mile has been the proposal to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600"

No it isn't. At all. The most contentious issue is letting off Vodafone for £6 billion tax bill coupled with the axing of £7 billion in benefits.

xWCHL said...

This kind of suits the national/London based Conservative Party and undermines the national/British Labour Party given that Wales returns more Labour MPs than Conservative MPs. No bad thing per se (in my book) since Labour has let down Wales (I would say kept Wales down for its own reasons) so no tears for Labour. I remember local Labour politicians knocking at the front door of our Lansbury Park council house - sometimes with clipboard in hand.

But it always seemed to me that they were more interested in maintaining the status-quo (them staying in various seats) than making any real difference in Wales despite the fact that they held monopoly political power in Wales.

I remember one Labour man talking about how many council houses they (Labour) had built and that we lived in one of their council houses, implying that we should be grateful and vote for them.

I remember my mum telling me that she would vote Plaid Cymru even though she did not support them. I didn't bother registering to vote because I could see no point in it. That voting was a waste of time such was my despondency for what Labour MPs were doing for Wales.

But the Conservatives must move to the center in terms of diversity - the number of white public school educated males in the Cabinet is hardly reflective of the makeup of the nation as a whole. I smell elitism and ‘jobs for the boys’ (which of course happens in Labour), but I had hoped that the Conservative Party would try and go beyond that level of thinking.

Glyn Davies said...

Stephen - Perhaps they do in the Rhondda - at Chris Bryant's surgeries!

RW - I was referringto the most contentious issue in the House of Commons. I think we are in agreement in principle.

xWCHL - Two competing principles here. I agree about the need for greater diversity on the Conservative benches, but I also like voters to be free to choose who they want to represent them. We do have too few female non-white candidates wanting to be selected. David Cameron has made a big effort to change this - with some success. I think there is more to do.