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Friday, February 09, 2007

The 'I' word

As my surgery venues closed due to the snow, I was forced to postpone them. The chances are that nobody would have been able to get there anyway, the city was gridlocked. It took me nearly and hour and a half to travel from my Regional Office to my home, a distance of about two and a half miles.

I took the opportunity afforded by my enforced time at home to catch up on my e-mails and to watch last night's Dragon's Eye. The feature on Plaid Cymru's ambivalence about Independence was fascinating.

Their reporter Phil Parry, took as his starting point an entry on Bethan Jenkin's blog in which she declared unequivocally her support for a stand-alone Welsh Socialist Republic. On her blog she said "We should embrace the debate on Independence in the same way that the SNP have done in Scotland." She went on: "I support Independence because I'm embracing the opportunity to create a better Wales, a republican socialist Wales", and "I support Independence for Wales. I believe we should have the right to our own Government."

Bethan is of course Plaid Cymru's number one list candidate for South Wales West and a virtual shoo-in as an Assembly Member on 3rd May. Her views therefore carry some weight. However, when she was asked to comment on them on the programme she spent an hour on the phone with party bosses and then declined. It appears that the party hierarchy have put her back in the box. A shame really.

Update: Just to be clear I agree with Glyn Davies. It is important for politicians to have an opinion. The objective of my scorn is Plaid Cymru for seeking to gag Bethan, not her for saying what she thinks.
I think it’s absolutely ludicrous that someone of such poor calibre is almost certainly guaranteed a seat in the Assembly this coming May. It’s farcical, quite frankly.

She’s been parachuted into South Wales West by the party hierarchy. She isn’t from this area (she’s from Rhondda, as far as I remember) and is totally out of step in terms of policy with what the people of Wales want.

The recent BBC poll demonstrates the people of Wales want a strong and vibrant Wales within a strong United Kingdom. And the nationalists know this too – or they would have allowed Ms. Jenkins the opportunity to explain herself on Dragon’s Eye last night. Though saying that, thinking back to her last embarrassing appearance on Dragon’s Eye – when David Williams roasted her on whether or not an Independent Wales should have an aircraft carrier – I don’t blame them!
How about posting something original rather than cutting and pasting from Glyn's site you work-shy commie.
Hi Peter,

An interesting post. However, Plaid candidates have been more than happy to give their views on Welsh independence on our blog. Ieuan Wyn Jones was the latest to comment today:


However, I have contacted Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democarts candidates (and the party leaders in Wales) asking why they oppose Welsh independence - to try to give readers both sides of the argument - but received no response.

Would you like to write a piece stating why you oppose Welsh independence so that I can add it to the blog?


Anonymous will no doubt notice from the update that I wrote this post before reading Glyn's. I might consider a piece on independence but not at the moment.
I wasn't referring to you Peter : )
The fact an individual of Bethan Jenkins's ability is a shoo in for a list seat is one of the reasons why I will not be using my vote in May for the list. You know that anyone can now name at least 3 of the 4 AMs who wil represent your area after May. They are yourself, Alun Cairns and Ms. Jenkins. The fourth should be Dai Lloyd but that depends on how strong the Tory vote is which could elevate Chris Smart to the assembly. What a thought! None of you will have a democratic mandate because you owe your election to the fact that you were placed top of the list by your party activists.We know that only 14 Plaid members voted for the little girl. Perhaps you could tell us how many Lib Dems voted for you? Labour members have already shown their contempt for the system by putting 4 has beens on their list.
No, the issue is surely not the number of votes she got but the fact that she trailed a poor second in the selection and was still put in at number one.

The issues you describe could equally apply to the constituency seats as well. A few party members could secure the selection of an individual to a safe seat and that person would be a virtual shoo-in. They will owe their seat to the party machine. It is the system we have. I do not like it but I have to work with it.

Personally, I do not consider myself a shoo-in. We intend to win Swansea West so for me to get elected we will have to do very well elsewhere in the region, possibly needing to increase our vote by 6-8%.If we do not win Swansea West then the fourth seat on the list will be a three way fight between Tory, Plaid and Welsh Lib Dem. It is worth voting if only to influence that contest.

Equally, I only just got elected in 1999 so it could go the other way. The point is that my fate is in the hands of the voters in the same way as the constituency candidates. If I am re-elected then it will be because of the campaign I fight to persuade people to vote Welsh Liberal Democrat on the list.

In my selection contest I secured 134 votes or 77% of those voting.
The "parachuting" results from Plaid's rigid gender representation policy, I believe. Under the nationalists rules, top of the South Wales West list has to be a woman.

With less prescriptive rules, and full participation of the membership of the region at all stages, we Liberal Democrats achieved a list which is balanced. The top two are Peter and the excellent Jackie Radford.

It would be a criminal waste for Peter, with his exemplary record in the Assembly, to be deposed from the top of the list by some bigoted contrivance.

Of course, if we had a decent proportional voting system, with multi-member constituencies, such decisions could be left to the
citizens at large.

- Frank Little
You intend to win Swansea West do you? After the mess you’ve made with the local council, I very much doubt people will be voting Lib Dem on May 3rd in Swansea!!
That is what Labour would want you to believe but that is not the response we are getting on the doorstep. There is a lot of politically motivated criticism of the Council but actually things are starting to come good and people notice that.
The most recent polls show that a majority of people want a Parliament for Wales or independence. Even the English want to go their own way.

Does your anonymous contributor seriously think that, once Scotland is independent, Wales will want to remain part of the disUnited Kingdom.

We need a 21st Century constitutional settlement not a continuation of a 16th Century annexation.

Bethan Jenkins' comments were spot on.
Thanks for the honesty on the number of Lib Dems who voted for you. It is still a stupid system which could see you fail to return to the assembly because your party might win Swansea West. The sad fact is that most people do not even know the names of the candidates on the lists. Labour's list in your area is frankly a joke.As for the fourth AM I still believe that it will be Dai Lloyd. I'm not a Plaid supporter but he would make a far better AM than the two second candidates on your list and the Tory list who are both from Bridgend. Although it looks as if the region will be represented by 3 AMs based in Swansea and one (Alun Cairns) living outside the region in the Vale.
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