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Monday, August 15, 2005

Protecting their constituents

The saga about Leanne Wood's memo to Party bosses continues to trundle on with an article in the Western Mail this morning questioning whether the use of casework records to identify potential voters is legal or not:

Last month Labour released details of an internal Plaid Cymru report written by South Wales Central AM Leanne Wood in which she questioned the value of constituency case work because it didn't necessarily translate into votes for the party. She proposed that regional AMs should spend less time on casework and only attend functions if that would help Plaid.

Plaid denied that Ms Wood's suggestions had been accepted by the party. In a letter to Anne Jones, the Assistant Information Commissioner for Wales, Rhondda Labour MP Chris Bryant, referred to Ms Wood's leaked report, stating, "She cites the case of former Rhondda AM Geraint Davies who dealt with 2,500 individual complaints during his four-year term: 'A very small proportion of those people indicated that they would be voting Plaid Cymru in telephone canvassing.'

"This suggests that Plaid Cymru had access to Mr Davies's database of constituency casework names and addresses.

"My understanding is that it is illegal for constituents' names and addresses, supplied to an elected representative for the purpose of casework, to be passed on to a political party for political or electoral contact."

Rhondda Labour AM Leighton Andrews has now jumped in by urging the Assistant Information Commissioner for Wales to launch a full investigation. In a letter to her, he claims that the reference to Geraint Davies in Leanne Wood's report, "clearly indicates either that Plaid Cymru used the casework names and addresses for telephone canvassing purposes, or they subsequently compared their telephone canvassing returns to Mr Davies's casework records.

This is indeed a serious matter and there is no way that Labour are going to let this one go. They can see clear party political advantage in pursuing it and personal hatred of Plaid Cymru is sufficient for some of them to want to bury Plaid politically. Leighton Andrews however, has genuine and high-minded reasons for taking this matter further. As he explains on his Rhondda blog:

We need to get to the bottom of this. My constituents are entitled to know that their confidential records have not been misused.

Leighton's principled concern about the rights of his constituents should be applauded.
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