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Friday, December 09, 2005

Where have all the top quality politicians gone

So Peter Hain and the Labour Party have gone and done it. They have put into their bill a clause to stop people standing for both the regional list and in a constituency. In his justification for this Peter Hain is fond of quoting the statistic that 15 of the 20 regional members have constituency offices in the area they stood for in 2003 and that we are using these offices to help build up support for 2007. Not only is this nonsense but it is not true.

My rationale in choosing my office was that it should be accessible to the public, good value for money and close to my home. My office is actually in Swansea West, whereas I stood in Swansea East. A scan of those offices of other regional AMs I can locate indicates that this pattern holds for them as well. Furthermore it is actually illegal to use the offices in the way Hain suggests and so I repeat my previous request that he either provides the evidence or he should shut up.

If Peter Hain has gone over the top then so has the Western Mail. Its line this morning that some of Wales' finest political brains could lose their seats in the National Assembly if this controversial part of Labour's proposed new devolution Bill goes ahead is perhaps an exaggeration. Still, their heart is in the right place!
If, as suggested, all these politicians are “top quality”, then you and the others will have no problem winning a constituency seat….right?

The other aspect of all of this, which the Western Mail have conveniently forgotten to mention, is that Labour AM’s in marginal seats (which includes two ministers and a deputy minister) will no longer have a “lifebelt” in a regional seat if they happen to lose their constituency seat.

So it works both ways, for all political parties.

So, Peter, where will you be standing in 2007?
I think that you are correct in describing the Western Mail comment as over the top.

But you don't address the main reason that Peter Hain quotes concerning the Regional List. He regularly raises the "Clwyd West question" where all 3 of the 'losing' candidates managed to become AM's.

What are your thoughts on this ?
firstly i have to agree with you with regards to hain's liablous comments. (is there any way you can force him to prove these claims - parliamentary standards committee etc...)

second is your office on mansel street? number 70 if i recall - or that could be my dentist.

thirdly what really annoys me is this comment of hain's (reported on the bbc)

"What I hope this will do is settle for a generation - if not more - the whole constitutional obsession we have in Wales about the powers and the status of the assembly."

as a nationalist i would want a faster development of powers going to full Parliamentary position within a decade, two at the most, this situation is wholly undesirable and im still livid over it.
Martyn, if you join the Liberal Democrats I will tell you where I am going to stand. Otherwise you will have to wait for the public announcement.

David, Peter Hain does not understand the system he devised. There are two ballot papers, two freeposts and effectively two elections. It is perfectly legitimate to lose in one but win in another. That is how this system has operated for decades. Labour even have a Minister in Scotland who came third in the constituency he stood in but got elected on the list. Of all the Countries who operate this system only the Ukraine has adopted this sort of restriction and they went on to poison the opposition Presidential candidate. This is good company Labour are keeping.

My view is that the existing system is a hybrid that fails to achieve its objectives. We should have proportionality but by way of STV and then all AMs will be perceived as equal.

Yes, my constituency office is First Floor, 70 Mansel Street, Swansea, SA1 5TN. Tel: 01792 536353
Taffiadon: "firstly i have to agree with you with regards to hain's liablous comments. (is there any way you can force him to prove these claims - parliamentary standards committee etc...)" - what planet are you on? Get some perspective.

Peter: you have highlighted why you are abusing the system more than any other AM. You choose to locate your office, not in the constituency you stood in last time, not in the ward you represent on Swansea Council, but in Swansea West, which is the Lib Dems No. 1 target seat in the region.
Oh come on David, now you are grasping at straws. My constituency office has been in the same place since 1999. It was located in Swansea West just a few months after the Assembly elections in which the Liberal Democrats vote in Swansea East outperformed that in Swansea West. I really think you need to join the real world.
Oh no, Peter, please, leave him on the planet he currently inhabits.

David, 'grasping at straws' is putting it very politely, but as this is a public forum I shall try and be equally magnanimous.

Hain thinks regional members are abusing their position by locating offices in constituencies where they lost, which he sees as targets for next time.

You are saying that not locating then in that constituency is even more of an abuse of the system.

Where then would the Labour Party like to see these offices based? Or is it one of those questions like so many others that there is such wide disagreement over you can never come up with an answer?

Bet the Labour office in Porth shared by Chris Bryant MP and Leighton Andrews AM is a fun place to be these days.
At least one regional member has an office in a constituency they have never contested....Janet Davies regional am for plaid in South Wales west has her office in Neath.........
Well that makes two South Wales West Regional AMs who do not have an office in a constituency they contested. To myself and Janet you can also add Jocelyn Davies, Leanne Wood, David Melding, Laura Anne Jones (I think), possibly Lisa Francis and Eleanor Burnham. I am awaiting details of other AMs so this list may grow.
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