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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Scrambled priorities

Lembit Őpik has famously claimed that his name was devised in a scrabble competition. Now the Culture Minister, Alun Pugh, has proved that scrabble is not necessarily a good game to get yourself into.

Today's Western Mail reports that Mr. Pugh spent £2,000 of public money getting permission to use a picture of himself alongside the board game Scrabble on his official Christmas card. The paper says that:

"the Assembly Government defended the spending, saying Mr Pugh, whose portfolio also includes responsibility for the Welsh language, was promoting the Welsh version of the game.

The total cost of Mr Pugh's 2005 Christmas card was £3,500, of which £2,000 was a licence fee paid to Mattel, the American group that owns the board game."

By anybody's standards this is an indefensible waste of public money. It benefits nobody and if anything, brings politicians and the Welsh Assembly into disrepute. The only bright side for the Minister appears to have been the rather ineffectual response of the opposition.

Plaid Cymru's Culture spokesperson said he will have to get in touch with his leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, to see if he should be calling for the Minister's resignation. Whilst the best we could come up with appears to have been a rather ineffectual pun that took our case nowhere.

In my view this is a resigning matter. There has already been too much bungling in the Culture portfolio in this Assembly. To have thrown away valuable resources in this way on a vanity exercise surely has to be the last straw.
Mattel should be paying for the free publicity provided. Pugh has no sense of commercial opportunities at all and it doesn't matter; he's learned that mismanaging our money for his benefit doesn't harm him on whit.
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