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Friday, December 15, 2006

Debating the budget

Now that the dust is starting to settle over the budget debate I thought it was worth stirring it up again with a look at some of the highlights of that discussion. This is of course an entirely partial view and is designed to paint the Welsh Liberal Democrats in a good light.

By far the most effective intervention was that of Leanne Wood on Nick Bourne. The Tories are starting to learn the hard way that what they think is amusing in their blog entries comes across entirely differently to the outside world and may well be used against them:

I turn to Plaid Cymru—

Leanne Wood: Will you take an intervention?

Nick Bourne: Yes, of course.

Leanne Wood: Do you agree with your colleague, Glyn Davies, who gave the following reason for his disappointment with Plaid’s responsible stance on this budget in a recent post on his weblog? He said:

‘Bang goes my chance of being a Minister. No huge Ministerial salary. No Ministerial car. No huge staff to prepare my speeches’.

Does this not show that the Tories are not interested in putting Wales or its schools first, but interested only in themselves?

Nick Bourne: I must say to the Member that I had not had her down previously as someone who had had a sense-of-humour bypass. Whatever our differences on policies, and they are considerable, I had always thought that irony was something that featured on her radar; if not, I feel deeply sorry for Leanne. We will have a discussion afterwards about what a sense of humour is; I think that she has one in reality and that that was tongue in cheek.

Meanwhile, Dai Lloyd demonstrated to all of us that having a good rant was not the most effective use of the new siambr:

Karen Sinclair: Forgive me if I am wrong, but I though that you were abstaining this afternoon. [Laughter.]

David Lloyd: I said that we will let the budget pass—it is Christmas, so I will be charitable.

I will say a word about the Tories. The past week has revealed the Tories’ complete inability to stick to any agreed line and their totally naked self-interest and banal posturing—they put themselves before the interests of Wales. The evidence comes from Glyn Davies’s blog—it is there.

Nick Bourne: Will the Member give way?

David Lloyd: No, you have had your say. [Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order.

David Lloyd: The third aspect is the intoxicating lure of power, ministerial cars and all the trappings. The Tories—

Nick Bourne: Will you give way?

David Lloyd: Go on, then—I will continue my rant later. [Laughter.]

Nick Bourne: I agree with your last point—it is certainly a rant. Let us be clear on one point that you made. Most of the extra money that you are heralding was already on the table in the negotiations. The only additional amount was the £9.3 million—[Interruption.]

David Lloyd: No.

Nick Bourne: Yes, it was; you were not in the negotiations. You did not bring anything extra—[Interruption.]

The Presiding Officer: Order. There is no need to shout.

David Lloyd: Indeed not.

The Presiding Officer: Order. I know that some Members are lay preachers, but they must not preach in here. The acoustics here are extremely good.

Dai's closing line, delivered at the top of his voice, had all the finesse and sophistication of a football chant:

As it is Christmas and the season of goodwill, and all that, my message to the Tories is: get used to permanent opposition, losers. [Laughter.]

Finally, Mark Isherwood rounded off with a characteristic analogy that still has many of us scratching our heads:

Regarding landfill sites, one protestor at Hafod quarry told me that this Assembly Government is treating them ‘like a gnat on an elephant’s bum’. Let me remind this Government that it is the people who are the elephant, and they who are the gnats on its bum. [Laughter.]

I believe that for a split second the Presiding Officer considered whether to rule that the word 'bum' was unparliamentary language but decided against it and quickly moved onto the next speaker. It was not a pretty debate but it was passionate and it was lively. How it plays out in the real world has yet to be seen.
If they hated blogging before, they'll hate it even more now.

Still, remarkably similar to what I wrote here

I suppose that's the problem for politicians. What's written with wit and perhaps a touch of irony can be taken out of context. Unless, of course, the Tories meant it.
I, too thought Leanne's intervention was very good. Dai Lloyd was awful. Huge increase in the number of hits on my site since the debate. Maybe I'll try irony again
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