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Friday, July 21, 2006

Relationship breakdown

For insiders the most interesting piece in this morning's Western Mail is their analysis of the breakdown in the relationship between Presiding Officer, Dafydd Elis Thomas and his Deputy, John Marek:

One AM said, "Dafydd and John aren't really on personal speaking terms. This has been going on for the last four or five months. They have a big disagreement over how the members' side of the Assembly will be run in the future, after the new powers come in next May.

"John Marek thinks the Government is trying to take over what is now the Assembly Parliamentary Service, while Dafydd El has been trying to get a workable system in place. Depending what time it is, you'll find one or other of them in the members' tearoom, briefing anyone who will listen.

"Dafydd El, who chairs the Shadow Commission that is preparing for next year's changes, is angry he's not been put on the Standing Orders Committee, while John feels sidelined because he's not on the Shadow Commission and wanted to be on the Standing Orders Committee too."

Another AM said, "There's scarcely a person here with whom the Presiding Officer hasn't fallen out. He now barely talks to Paul Silk, the Clerk to the Assembly, and there's a real issue with the staff in the Assembly Parliamentary Service, many of whom feel frozen out by him. Many don't like the fact that the Shadow Assembly Commission, which he is chairing, is being serviced not by the APS, but by staff from the Assembly Government.

"Dafydd Elis-Thomas and John Marek are two very idiosyncratic characters and both have strong views. The PO has been at loggerheads with his own party and there have been rumours going around that he has done a deal with Labour for them to support him for a third term as PO. There's certainly some kind of power struggle going on.

"I don't know what is happening - I can't work it out. I thought the PO was het up about the opening of the Senedd, which was a very big thing, and that he would calm down once that was over. But he hasn't.

"Whatever else can be said about Dafydd, however, he is the one person in the Assembly who had a clear and practical vision about how this place should function. A lot of us said we wanted a proper parliament: he is probably the only one who knows how to deliver it."

Fascinating stuff. If it is true then I will have to dig out my tin hat for the next time I visit the Presiding Office.
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