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Saturday, February 11, 2006

That name

For goodness sake, give it a rest! This morning's Western Mail continues its obsession with the name of the new building, as if it really mattered. To be fair, this is also an issue for the BBC and other media organisations.

The background is that the Assembly's House Committee agreed on 23 June 2005 to call the new building "Senedd". The decision was taken without dissent and involved all parties, including the Government's Business Manager, the Tory Chief Whip, myself and a number of other AMs.

Some Labour AMs have now taken this matter up. seemingly appalled at the fact that the name is monoglot Welsh but also at its implication that the new building will be housing a Parliament with primary law-making powers. What they seem to have missed is that the ultimate objective of the Government of Wales Bill is precisely that.

There are a number of examples of public buildings having monoglot Welsh names. In Swansea, for example, the tax office is situated in Tŷ Nant, whilst the Wales Land Registry is housed in Tŷ Cwm Tawe and its partner institution in Swansea High Street is in Tŷ Bryn Glas. It is worth pointing out as well that there are number of nouns in common usage in the English language that are not English but which do not require translation. Bungalow is a good example of this.

The real agenda in this row is Labour's dislike of Plaid Cymru and in particular, the Presiding Officer. They are trying to drive a wedge between Dafydd Elis Thomas and his party, but they are also sending a message to their heartlands that a vote for Plaid Cymru will lead to bilingualism and the Welsh language being shoved down their throat. It is a sign of how inept the Party of Wales is that they continue to feed this agenda by their actions and by their reaction to it, a mistake that Dafydd Wigley managed to avoid when he led them.

Just as predictable is the news that Plaid Cymru AM, Leanne Wood, is to boycott the official opening of the new building at which, we are told, the Queen is to refer to it as the Senedd. Leanne of course, can do as she wishes, but why exactly this is news anymore defeats me. My view for what it is worth is that regardless of what we think about the monarch she remains the head of state and that as such it is appropriate that she opens such a powerful symbol of Welsh democracy.

In commenting on her decision Leanne says that she is "encouraged that those who contacted me to support me were nearly all young people. Support for the monarchy seems to be a generational thing, maybe something to do with the war." Alas, it is not as simple as that. The monarchy has been through some very rough patches in the last few hundred years, including times when there was a majority for its abolition. It is historically unlikely that just because a lot of young people in Wales dislike it now that they will grow up seeking its abolition. You cannot just sit back and allow demographic trends to do your job for you, especially when you actually have no scientifically verifiable data to back up your own assumptions, you have to win the argument and use the system to get the changes through. More importantly, you have to show that such an act will benefit people overall and that it is of greater priority than good health care, improved housing and education.
what i dont understand is why HRH Prince Charles The Prince Of Wales doesn't open the assembly.

wales is after all a principality and therefore i can see no logic in the prince not opening the assembly.

do you know of any reason why this is not the case?
If Leanne's conscience stops her from attending a ceremony with the Queen, how come it doesn't also stop her from sitting in the accursed building as well? And how come it doesn't stop her from leaving a party, the majority of Assembly Members of which don't appear to agree with her?

Or does her conscience only kick in when she feels there's a good press release in it?
Charles is not asked because he is not Head of State. On Leanne I could not possibly comment, it is a matter for her. However, you will note that in the article she admits to being a liar on this issue :-))
I'd heard that Charlie boy will be attending - but obviously he's trumped by his mother.

There is clearly no groundswell of fervent republicanism just now. The main attitude to the monarchy amoung young people and wider society appears to this commentator to be more one of apathy than alienation.

It is hardly suprising that there is little hostility to Elizabeth Windsor, who has been an exemplary constitutional monarch since 1952. A crisis may errupt when/if Charles takes over, but opposition will probably flounder on the lack of agreement amongst his opponents on an alternative process for deciding on a Head of State.

I would be astonished if Buck House will allow Her Majesty to be bounced into giving the Crown's seal of approval to a change of name by stealth.

The name designated in both the current Act and the new Bill is National Assembly for Wales. The translation of "Assembly" is "Cynulliad". The protocol johnies will no doubt find some form of words that finesse the question without causing offence to either side.
You misunderstand the situation. Nobody is proposing to rename the Assembly, that is in an Act of Parliament and can only be changed by Parliament. The Queen will be referring to the name of the building, a matter that is entirely in the hands of the Assembly itself. The Queen would therefore be giving her seal of approval to that.

At present that name is Senedd. If Labour members feel strongly enough that this should be changed then they should demand Government time for a proper debate on an amendable motion.
Peter dont fully understand the point your making re the language. I agree Labour are now so desperate that they are resorting to the old trick trying to use the language as a divisive issue. However this clearly has less traction than in the past.

Not sure though how we could avoid "fueling" this agenda or even that we are.

Not sure how things are different to when Wigly ran the party however please continue to talk him up....as you know he will be back in the assembly soon no doubt you will enjoy working with him.....:)
I would be astonished not to see Carl Sargent requesting such a vote.

My point however was that the Palace is going to finesse the issue. The Crown should not be dragged into politics and it will not permit itself to be.

I seem to remember you advocating the openning up to scrutiny of decisions made in House Committee. Leighton is claiming that the Labour Members there failed to appreciate the significance of the name and refer it back to their Group colleagues.

Sennedd means Parliament, not Assembly. This is a clear attempt to try and advance an alteration in the way people refer to the whole intitution and the only certainty is that it will result in short-term confusion.

As corporate body status disappears the Assembly Parliamentary Service probably needs to turn an eye to opening up it's own processes if it is to avoid further clashes ...
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