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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Where shall we put the snipers?

I quite enjoyed the farewell statement by the now-ex First Minister, Rhodri Morgan yesterday. As per usual he was full of witty anecdotes of which this one was especially good:

I also want to thank all the special advisers that I have had. The function of a special adviser is sometimes described as that of a spin doctor, but by and large, our special advisers have not been spin doctors but policy wonks out of the top drawer—professors of sociology, and suchlike. I will never forget one moment when Tony Blair was coming to address people in Wales, and making a major speech on Europe in the old library in central Cardiff. He was a little late in arriving, and so the person in charge of his security arrangements turned to me and asked to speak to my senior special adviser. I pointed to Mark Drakeford, a professor of sociology, who was wearing his usual sweater and pair of jeans, and after digesting the news that this was my senior special adviser, this chap went over to Mark and asked him, 'Where shall I position my team of rooftop snipers?’ I did not think that he had quite understood what a special adviser was.

However, as Mike German made clear not everybody appreciated the former First Minister's stories;

Nevertheless, I do not know whether you will ever be forgiven by the translator for the deputy premier of China. You may remember that, over dinner, the deputy premier was at pains to tell us that we were a country of 3 million, that China was a country of 3 billion, and that there was something of a difference in scale. However, you proceeded to tell him what the ambitions were for our wise nation, and you recounted several stories before you realised that the poor translator had to write it all down in Chinese characters and then try to translate it for the deputy premier. I do not think he will ever forgive you because he could not catch up with your stories. However, the people of Wales have forgiven you for all sorts of things, which shows a level of trust. That trust was very much part of the relationship that we enjoyed when I worked with you in Government. It is important in politics that no matter from which corner you come, when you say that you are going to do something, you execute it, you carry it out, and you trust the people who carry it forward with you. I am deeply grateful for that.
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