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Friday, May 05, 2006


Today is a day of apologies, given and demanded. The most prominent of these is of course the indignant Peter Hain, who is positively apoplectic at the very suggestion that it might have been him who offered Peter Law a peerage not to stand at the last General Election.

It is impossible to know for certain of course what is the truth in this matter. What does seem evident however is that Elfyn Llwyd has completely bungled his attempt to pin the blame on the Secretary of State for Wales and has been put on the defensive by his inability to follow House of Commons procedure.

My view is that this row has now turned into the sort of inward-looking party political sniping that puts people off the democratic process. It is time for the bitterness of the past on both sides to be put to one side so that the by-elections can be fought on issues that have a real bearing on the quality of people's lives.

The second reference to an apology appears in the Western Mail letters page. They write "Yesterday we published a letter in which Labour MEP Eluned Morgan and Labour AMs Leighton Andrews and Huw Lewis were accused of making personal attacks on the late Peter Law. We accept, contrary to the letter, that no such personal attacks had been made and we apologise to the parties for any distress caused."

I cannot recall any such attacks by Leighton Andrews and Eluned Morgan either. Whether Huw Lewis can be so exonorated is another matter. This passage from the record of proceedings on 10 May 2005 seems pretty personal to me:

I have here a bundle of complacent and lethargic responses from Peter Law, the part-time Member for Blaenau Gwent, who did not care enough about the issue to give us a buffer zone then and does not care enough about the issue to be present this afternoon. So much for the Valleys’ very own Ramsay MacDonald.

I can also recall some very robust exchanges between the two politicians in the chamber following Peter Law's election as an MP such as this one:

Huw Lewis: I will give way in a moment. Undoing a Labour budget and our measures for social justice—is that what they had in mind in Blaenau Gwent when he spat such vitriol at Welsh Labour during his election campaign? Can we now look forward to Peter Law signing joint amendments with the Conservatives at Westminster, too? Is that what the people of Blaenau Gwent can look forward to? [Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order. Huw Lewis is not giving way.

Huw Lewis: Can we take it that today’s Peter Law/Tory party alliance is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, or is it just a one-night stand? I give way.

Not so much personal as personally challenging. It is certainly enough to give some people the idea that Huw Lewis did not approve of Peter Law and was prepared to say so in the starkest of terms.
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