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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Double jeopardy

So far, so predictable. The House of Lords last night voted by a majority of 19 to continue the current system whereby candidates can stand for the Assembly in both constituency and regional lists. Peter Hain has insisted that he will push through the rule-change regardless.

This no longer affects me as I have already made the commitment to stand on the Regional List only, though if I am allowed there may be circumstances whereby I will put my name forward for a constituency as well, if only to use the opportunity to increase the Welsh Liberal Democrat list vote.

It is a shame that the Lords amendment was so tame in opting for the status quo rather than an all-out system of STV to elect all 60 Assembly Members. At least then there might be a real challenge for the Government to deal with. Instead we get stale Labour gerrymandering versus a half-hearted defence of the status quo by the opposition parties.

And whilst all of this is going on we have our attention and vital Parliamentary time distracted from the real issues in the bill, namely the transformation of the Secretary of State for Wales into a provincial viceroy and the failure to address public demand for full legislative powers for the Assembly as envisaged by the Richard Commission. Labour will regret supporting this Bill if the Tories get back into power in Westminster.
I agree with you re STV: if they had submitted an amendment along those lines then Labour could not have claimed that it breached the Salisbury Convention. This is posturing on an issue that they know they can't win.
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