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Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Musical Chairs

Back from the half term recess and already I have a new perspective. The revised seating plan in the chamber has been put into effect and the Labour Party are now all closeted together at one end of the chamber whilst the opposition is grouped on the opposite wing. I am sitting on the extreme left as I look towards the Presiding Officer - next to the door. This is handy for getting in and out of the Chamber but it can also be distracting and a bit noisy. The accoustics are not brilliant and will take some getting used to. Everything is a bit distant from here but fortunately I am capable of making enough noise to avoid being marginalised. All the Party leaders are sitting uneasily together on the front row and the whole feel of the chamber is of one that is less inconclusive and more confrontational.

Together with the changed seating plan we also have a new division bell. We started off in 1999 with a recording of an old-fashioned school bell, we have now been brought into the twenty-first century with a more melodic and slightly muted sound. As it went off it occurred to me that it was a good time to make this change. The bell has an uncanny resemblance to sleigh bells. With Christmas less than two months away all we need now is for the Montgomeryshire AM, Mick Bates, to appear again in his Santa Claus outfit distributing mince pies and we will feel very seasonal indeed.

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