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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Those errant Tories

As predicted there was much talk in the chamber around the politics of the General Election. We all wanted a piece of the Tories. What was noticeable was the absence from the Assembly of the three Conservative AMs who are fighting Parliamentary Constituencies on 5th May. Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan), Jonathan Morgan (Cardiff North) and David Davies (Monmouth) were nowhere to be seen.

By far the best anti-Tory joke came from the Labour AM for Alyn and Deeside, Carl Sargeant:

Finally, perhaps we could have a debate on the transport industry, particularly in Wales. You will know that representatives of Airbus, Raytheon Systems Limited and Thales are in the Assembly Neuadd today holding an event. We must remember that unemployment is at its lowest for 29 years, but I would like to talk in particular about the development of the flight industry and the proposed cuts in services in Wales. I know that Air Wales is doing a terrific job at present in providing services within Wales, but I am concerned about the cuts promised by Howard Flight in Wales. [Laughter.]

By the time the minority party debate came around we were all having a bit of fun at the Tory's expense. However, after sitting for nearly an hour listening to their AMs spout the virtues of their manifesto and the need to cut waste in Government, I finally snapped and then everybody piled in all at once:

Peter Black: We have heard a lot about waste in speeches made by Conservative Members. Do you think that one waste of public money that we could do away with straight away is paying three Assembly Members to campaign for the general election, when they should be in this Plenary meeting?

Nick Bourne: We have already heard from the Liberal Democrats regarding the need— [Assembly Members: ‘Answer the question.’] I am about to. We have already heard from the Liberal Democrats on the need to prevent shameless populism, and I am all in favour of that. However, if you do not believe that there is a general election going on, then I am surprised that we have heard mention of Sedgefield and Dorset South, which, when I last looked in my atlas, were not parts of Wales.

Leighton Andrews: Let us talk about Monmouth then. [Interruption.]

The Deputy Presiding Officer: Order. You need to refer to the motion.

Leighton Andrews: If you allow me to proceed, Deputy Presiding Officer, you will see that I am. Do you agree with your candidate for Monmouth, who said that we need a world—class health service, but that if you look around the world at the better health services, they are not provided using an NHS—type model?

We will have to see if the three Tories grace us with their presence next week.
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