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Thursday, November 16, 2006

A feud to end them all

The Welsh papers report again on the feud between Presiding Officer, Dafydd Elis-Thomas and his Deputy, John Marek, which spilled out into the chamber yesterday in an embarrassing exchange that once more brought the Assembly into disrepute.

This time it was John Marek, determined to raise the departure of Assembly Clerk Paul Silk, who used a motion to appoint the new Chief Executive so as to attack the PO. As soon as he raised it he was ruled out of order and then when the Presiding Officer moved to a vote demanded several times that Dafydd Elis-Thomas clarify whether he was being gagged or not.

Talk afterwards amongst Labour AMs placed the blame for this latest spat on the DPO. Many would like to remove him from that post but do not feel able to do so due to the martyr-factor he would undoubtedly invoke. The opposition parties do not wish to initiate this action either. They need to keep John Marek on board if they are to retain their majority, even if they are unable to use it most of the time because of poor group discipline. The Presiding Officer is considered untouchable. Apart from being a bit too outspoken, he has really only been doing his job.

We are therefore left with this situation unresolved with the expectation that it will continue right up until we recess at the end of March 2007. That cannot be good for the reputation of the Welsh Assembly or our chances of convincing people to vote on the basis that we have the powers and the purpose to improve the quality of their lives.
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