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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The calibre of our politicians

Two Assembly Members have spoken out to claim that Wales does not have the calibre of politicians to do justice to the new Government of Wales Act:

Alun Ffred Jones, Plaid Cymru AM for Caernarfon, said, "Many Assembly Members live in a fool's paradise.

"They believe it's like a county council or a community council, where it's all just talk and talk, but there's going to be a revolution in 2007, which will pave the way, hopefully, for a proper parliament in the future."

And Glyn Davies, Conservative AM for Mid and West Wales, said, "The new Act is an opportunity for us to raise the standard of debate and our performance.

"I have felt disillusioned in the past by the sheer pettiness, repetitiveness and pointlessness of some debates.

"People stand up to be angry about something that is so minor and so narrow in its concern that only AMs care about it."

Needless to say I do not agree with this analysis, except that if an AM does stand up to make a petty and irrelevant point he or she is as likely to be from the opposition as the Government side.

My view is that members will grow into the challenge of making primary legislation. They have certainly done so in Scotland, where Parliamentary contributions, especially at question time, are equally as capable of degenerating into pettiness and pointlessness and whose MSPs in my view, are comparable in quality to our AMs.
members will grow into the challenge of making primary legislation

No, they won't.

Besides, would it be your advice that we permit the Assembly further powers with our fingers crossed you might be correct? Or should we assume most AMs will be much as they are now, which by your own tacit acceptance, is not up to scratch?
Not sure how you read "I do not agree with this analysis" as tacit acceptance.

With all due respect David they will grow into the role. I say that as somebody who is at the heart of putting the structure, training and support in place so as to ensure that we are all up to scratch. It is also the case that the vast majority of AMs I work with do have the capacity and the sense of purpose needed to take this on board.
... or a new pair, I should say!
I supposed that suggesting they'll grow into the role indicated you beleive they're not there yet. Like your Mum claiming you'd grow into a pair of shoes; the role's too big; you accept that by introducing the idea of them growing into it.

Seemed fairly clear to me.

Anyway, you simply assert AMs will grow into the role. I suppose potential and very able new AMs might be appointed or elected by their parties and then be elected by the long-suffering electorate; or current AMs will step up their act / grow into new roles.

I'd ask this question. If, as you say, the 'vast majority' of AMs have the capacity to work better but currently aren't working at that level, why would I wish to re-elect them anyway?

My personal experience of the Assembly and its workings sent me veering off into the far regions of small government. I twigged that giving largely unaccountable civil servants lots of money and having an ineffectual, unloved, cynical and self-interested talking-shop jammed on top is no way to make ensure taxes are spent well. My one close contact with officials and their decision making has made change my mind about the Assembly, completey.

I've no doubt that even if you agreed with me you couldn't say so because of some ridiculous injunction about bringing the Assembly into disrepute. Am I right on that?
Once more David you are misinterpreting what I wrote. If the role is not there now then how can AMs work at the level needed to fulfill it? They will grow into the role when it is handed them as anybody else taking on a new job would. As for the nature of the Assembly I do disagree with you and there are no restrictions that cause me to say that.
Ok, you wrote:

My view is that members will grow into the challenge of making primary legislation

- which is certainly plausibly interpreted in the way I did and might have done with clarification from you instead of the disingenous line that you have no idea how I could have taken your comment the way I did.

It's you view that members will grow into the role is not the same thing as saying members will do a new job when faced with one, is it.

As for the nature of the Assembly - you know the background and I wasn't the one telling porkies. And you know that.
Well I have explained what I meant now. I still believe that you stretched my comment beyond a meaning that any reasonablee person would attribute to it. I am not telling porkies either. You have come to a conclusion on the nature of the Assembly on the basis of a particular case. I did not come to the same conclusion based on the same facts.
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