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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What college?

Even by the silly-season standards of mid-August, this piece in today's Western Mail on the educational provenance of the Labour AM for Islwyn must hit a new low. The Assembly's website entry for Irene James states, 'Born in 1952, and was first elected to the Assembly on May 1 2003. She lives in Cwmcarn, Islwyn. Educated at West London University, she is a special needs teacher at Risca Primary School. Agent to Don Touhig MP at last general election. Main interests are jobs, education and health.' However, as stated in the Western Mail, the West London University does not exist.

Irene James is quoted as saying: 'I can't understand where the reference to West London University came from. I did my teacher training at Borough Road College in London.' As is the way of things this college merged with the West London Institute of Higher Education in 1976, and this in turn became part of Brunel University, West London in 1995. Irene states that she has contacted the relevant department and asked that the mistake be rectified. Good luck to her.

My website biography concludes that my 'interests include housing, local government and substance abuse.' I did e-mail the webmaster some time ago to point out that the only substances I am in fact interested in abusing are chocolate and Joe's ice cream, but alas nothing happened. A more accurate rendition would of course be that I have an interest in substance misuse policy. C'est la vie!

Update: I have received an e-mail alleging that the West London University is quoted in interviews Irene James gave to the South Wales Argus in 2003, however I cannot find such a reference. It was referred to in her biography on the Wales Labour Party website but this was updated around 1pm today.

Update 2: Why do research when people will do it for you. I have now been e-mailed a copy of an article in the South Wales Argus (pg.7) on Saturday 3 May. It is an interview with Irene James and clearly states that she went to West London University.
Why are you so interested in such a silly story Peter?

If you had a constituency, like Irene, you couldn't afford to spend so much time on something as rediculous as this.
I think the points I was making were (1) this is a really silly story and the Western Mail are struggling to fill their paper and (2) the webmaster in the Assembly are not very responsive to requests for changes and need to pull their socks up. Let us hope that the Labour Party's webmaster is quicker off the mark.

As it happens I have a constituency seven times the size of Irene's and am quite busy enough. Today I am working from home catching up on casework.
You always seem to be “catching up” on casework. I would expect that you and your staff would be working on casework on a daily basis; therefore, there would be no need to “catch up” on anything, as you would have it all under control.

This story about Irene James scrapes the bottom of the silly season barrel.

Oh, and perhaps you could pass on this to Councillor Peter May. He might like to check his facts before he attacks me in the Evening post in future, and his original letter was very similar to a posting on “inside Swansea council”…I wonder if the author of that site has unwittingly revealed his identity…
If you look here http://www.first4london.com/directory/Education/Universities/ under Brunel, you’ll find that it is quoted as “the West London university”
The thing is that the casework keeps coming in!

Perhaps you should mention this to David Taylor who has already changed the Wales Labour website. Of course it was not Brunel University or the West London University when Irene went to it but then we have already agreed that this is trivial, inconsequential and irrelevant.

By the way I think you will find that a lot of the Swansea Administration use the Inside Swansea blog as source material. I do.
You don’t say!

I’m not aware that David Taylor has access to the Welsh Labour website.

Really? I’m quite disappointed, well, no, not really, perhaps that should be I’m not entirely surprised that members of the current Swansea administration cannot think for themselves and rely on a substandard web “blog” such as inside Swansea council for their “source material”. It might explain the shambled way the council has been run since last June.
Well as the Inside Swansea blog is run by some members of the administration I would say that it is quite incestuous in that way. Of course the Councillors can think for themselves, which is why it is only used for source material not lifted verbatim. I would certainly not agree that it is sub-standard either but that is a partisan judgement, just as yours was.
This wonderful story is also posted on our blog:


Do you really think the 11246 people in Islwyn whop voted for Irene would have voted Lib Dem had they known she was educated at Borough Road College, West London, and not West London University.

I doubt it.
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