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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Anonymous e-mails

So what exactly is going on here? An anonymous e-mail was sent to the Western Mail claiming that Assembly Members, Huw Lewis and Lynne Neagle, who are married with a three year old child, used their allowances to move from the deprived Butetown area of Cardiff to leafy Penarth, so as to put their son into a better school.

Every AM who has his or her main home outside of Cardiff and Newport is entitled to draw down a £12,000 a year allowance for accomodation. A large number have used the money to buy or rent property. I have not, as I believe that Swansea to Cardiff is commutable and therefore I cannot justify the expense. When I need to stay over then I use a local hotel. However, this is the first time that I can recall that anybody has been accused of using the allowance in this way.

The question is who would have had this information? Has it come from people within the Labour Party or has somebody else stumbled upon it and used it? We have also had this week a press release from a Labour Assembly Member, attacking the Deputy Presiding Officer for using his allowances to carry out a fact-finding trip to Gibraltar. I am sure that the two are not related but if we are to endure this sort of personalised, dirt-digging for the next 12 months then it will not just be the politicians who will suffer but the Assembly and the political process itself.

Update: I have just found this passage in an article written by Huw Lewis for the Western Mail:

Wales is a grossly unequal society - you see it so clearly when you represent a constituency like mine. Unequal not just in terms of personal prosperity, but also in terms of access to public services and the stepping stones they offer to opportunity and a more fulfilled life.

How very true.
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