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Thursday, May 31, 2007


The Assembly is in recess for half term and will next be convening on Tuesday morning when the Queen arrives to carry out the official opening and presumably, hand Rhodri Morgan his seals of office or whatever they do nowadays. As a result I have been out of it for the last few days, catching up on work, sorting out the election expense return and trying to get my Assembly issued laptop to work.

This does not mean that I have not been paying attention, just that I have been disinclined to comment on what is going on in the wider political world until now. I should note therefore that the Tories have finally bitten the bullet and expelled Sir Eric Howells, a former Welsh party chairman who criticised the selection of a candidate prior to the assembly elections.

This appears to be the price that has to be paid for utilising the privilege of free speech within the Conservative Party nowadays, though for some strange reason Peter Davies, father of David Davies MP, seems to have survived his own spat with Nick Bourne and remains a Tory Party member. Thank goodness the Welsh Liberal Democrats do not operate the same rules.

I tried to watch the Labour Party Deputy Leadership debate on Newsnight but couldn't stomach more than a few minutes of it. In a number of ways it was rather comical, especially the way that they placed the vertically-challenged Hazel Blears next to a much taller Hilary Benn. I actually felt sorry for her as she struggled to be seen over her lectern so as to make her point.

I am indebted to Jonathan Calder for pointing out that the Labour Party Chair once appeared in kitchen sink classic, A Taste of Honey - "They filmed it at the bottom of our road" she recalled "And I was in one scene wearing bunches and a little kilt. My brother sang `The Big Ship Sails On The Ally Ally O'..." I can picture it now!

Meanwhile, Guido points out that desperate attempts were made by some candidates to ensure that the on-line poll being run by Newsnight after the debate did not sink their campaign. He records that a memo was sent out shortly afterwards from the Hain camp urging supporters to vote - "
This is very urgent indeed - please can everyone make sure we have as many votes as possible for Peter on the Newsnight website. We're currently getting squeezed to last. Please vote now before the poll closes...."

Alas, it was to no avail. According to the Western Mail, the poll scored Jon Cruddas as the winner with the Welsh Secretary trailing some distance behind the rest of the field. The paper puts the score as Jon Cruddas 36.52%; Harriet Harman 19.96%; Alan Johnson 14.98%; Hazel Blears 10.57%; Hilary Benn 8.99%; and Peter Hain 7.89%. Still, there is plenty of time to play catch-up.

Photo courtesy of James Cridland via Iain Dale
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