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Monday, April 10, 2006

Chopping and changing

In many ways the defection of former Labour Assembly Member, Alison Halford, to the Conservatives has not really surprised me. Clearly, she prefers a centralised, authoritarian party to one such as the Liberal Democrats, which believes in empowering people.

The reasons she gives for jumping from one sinking ship to another are instructive. Alison has spent her career speaking out against cronyism. It stands to reason therefore that the appointment of Peter Mandelson as a European Commissioner might have been the final straw for her, though what else did she expect?

She may also have been uncomfortable at the loans for peerages scandal that has recently hit the Labour Party, though if that is her reason for moving she will want to reconcile her discomfort with the involvement of the Tories in the same game.

Personally, I agree with the comment by North Wales Welsh Liberal Democrat AM, Eleanor Burnham. She said: "Alison Halford’s move to the Tories is further evidence of the blurring of the lines between the two old authoritarian parties.

"With both parties occupying much of the same ground - supporting ID cards, school selection of pupils and the Iraq war before that – it’s little wonder that someone can move in and out with ease.

"Alison may speculate whether it was really worth officially changing though. For far too long Labour have been the real conservative party in Wales; Holding the country back, trying to ‘bind people together’, a half-hearted support for devolution and a contented slumbering style of government."

All in all, I remember Alison as a delightful, eccentric lady with a razor-sharp mind and a capacity for interrogation that left many Assembly witnesses floundering. She may have been better retiring gracefully and leaving us with those memories rather than lending her name to yet another dodgy cause.


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