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Thursday, April 06, 2006


Yesterday's censure motion against the Culture Minister, Alun Pugh, had its moments but most of the venom was played out in press releases both before and afterwards. It was this that particularly upset Labour AM, Leighton Andrews:

I return to one of the issues that has disappointed me. We have not had any words of welcome for the interim chair of the arts council, who is taking on a significant challenge. That is a great credit to him. He is someone of substance in the cultural community in Wales. There have also been some rather snide attacks on the interim chair, not in the Chamber, but outside, because he does not speak Welsh, and that is to be deplored. It is a shame that those comments have not been deplored elsewhere. There has been much snobbery and elitism in this debate over the arts over the last few months; there has been snobbery and elitism in the arts community and some of it has been directed at our Minister. It has been directed at him, at the end of the day, because some people do not believe that the son of a Rhondda miner should be a Minister for culture. That is what we have seen; we have seen disgraceful, elitist attacks on the Minister inside the Chamber and without.

Because they already spoken the various Party Leaders were not able to respond to this immediately, however Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader, Mike German, had an effective riposte after the event:

"It's incredulous that Leighton Andrews sought to turn the debate into a class-war. Claiming that the opposition parties couldn’t stomach a ‘son of a Rhondda miner’ as Culture Minister was beyond belief. The New Labour AM for the Rhondda is the Cameo Club class warrior. Alun Pugh’s bungling performance has nothing to do with his father did for a living. Perhaps WAG’s campaign to take the arts into communities could start with a tour starring Leighton Andrews and his synthetic indignation."

Not everything went according to plan for the opposition. Mike German had put together what he thought was an effective analogy at his weekly press conference on the Monday:

"Bungle was the star of the children’s’ TV show Rainbow, but this Minister’s promotion and commitment to the arts and culture should extend beyond 80s television programmes. His bungling style does nothing to inspire confidence; Bungle belongs with Zippy and George not as a Ministerial style. Alun Pugh must buck his game up and provide the answers we all need.

However, delivering the line in the siambr was a different matter altogether:

Bungle was the star of the children’s television programme, Rainbow—

The Presiding Officer: I call Leighton Andrews.

Obviously a fan of the show, the Presiding Officer closed up the zipper mid-sentence.
In 150 years we have apparently come from stirring Gladstonian rhetoric, to "It is incredulous that Leighton Andrews sought to turn the debate into a class war"; a statement that, even with the correct adjective, would have offended on the grounds of cliche.

What's more amazing is that you choose to highlight this feeble exuse for debate as "effective rhetoric".
No, as an effective riposte. There is a difference.
I'm not sure if it's his abilty (or inability) to speak Welsh that's the problem, but his attitiude towards the language.

"Cameo Club class warrior" :-)
Anyone mention the enormous amount of money spent on the Culturent Cymru and the fixed 100 Welsh Heroes poll?

I think shortly afterwards, Culturenet lost most of its staff and became absorbed into that mismanaged money pit, the National Library.
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