Monday, 5 April 2010

Golwg column translation: The marvel of the rubber man

In the Llan fair, Llanllechud fair, I saw many a wonder of this old world. One that left a great impression on men was the indian rubber man.
As his promotional material described, the person could change his body to any shape, almost as if there was not a bone in his body. An exceptional talent.
Strangely the old indian rubber man came into mind in the Assembly recently. Why? As the ability to bend every way was prominent on the day of the civil service strike.
As in every strike the pickets were out encouraging their fellow workers not to go work. As a matter of principle and sympathy with the civil service strikers, Labour and Plaid Cymru Assembly members refused to cross the picket line.
The mantro of these Assembly Members was 'I'll be working somewhere else.' And fair play to them members of the cabinet were to be seen working iin some of the best restaurants in the Bay and I have no doubt that the rest of the AMs were working hard in their constituencies. And that's the end of the story.
Well, not quite. The Members of Parliament of the two parties under discussion were working in Westminster. Yes, they crossed the picket line. Of course, one would expect members of the government to be at their desks as it is they that are behind the dispute.
In the bone, it is the governments attempt to change the redundancy terms of civil servants is at the heart of the dispute. One would expect members of the government to work through the strike but their collegues on the back benches were also in their usual places. The picket line it seems was not a problem for them.
How were members of the same party able to make a different principled stand in the two places?
Welsh Labour Members of Parliament able to cross the picket line but their collegues an fellow members in the Welsh Assembly refusing to cross the line.
But it was even more difficult to understand Plaid Cymru's viewpoint. In Westminster Plaid Members of Parliament expressed their sympathy to the  stand taken by the Union but, in their opinion, it was important that they took part in the debate on the Budget.
But on the very same day in the Assembly there was an important debate in the Assembly. A debate on the order on the remuneration of members. After the whole debacle of MPs expenses one would have thought that the debate on how the Assembly was going to deal with the issue would have been regarded as important by all Assembly Members. No, clearly not. Only the Tories and the Liberal Democrats were present to vote n such an important Order.
How could a debate in Westminster by important enough to Plaid Cymru to cause them to cross the picket line but the same compulsion was not there for the Assembly? The ability for  a party to change its shape to suit the occasion. An indian rubber party?
One member of Plaid Cymru did attend the Assembly on the day in question, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas. And his explanation? Fulfilling his democratic duty.
Its a pit that more didn't feel under the same obligation.

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