Thursday, 7 July 2011
A comedy of errors
So now the National Assembly for Wales is again a sixty member legislature.
Just to recap, a vote was taken yesterday (6 July 2011) on a motion to reinstate Aled Roberts after his suspension for being a member of the Valuation Tribunal for Wales. Membership of which disqualified a person from being an Assembly Member. At the time of his election Aled Roberts was a member of this body. He has now resigned from it.
The motion was carried allowing Aled Roberts back with 30 votes in favour of letting him back 20 votes again and 3 people abstained. End of matter, he’s back in the club, with half of the AMs voting for his reinstatement. So the Liberal Democrats have their full team of five AMs at last.
End of story, well, no.
Enter stage left the Electoral Commission. In a TV interview they disclose that there were no hits at all on these matters on their Welsh language web. They had 143 hits on their English language site but ‘nil’ in the relevant period on their Welsh site. Intriguing, when most of the mitigating arguments put forward in Aled Roberts’s defence was that he was misled by the Welsh language information provided by the Commission.
Even more intriguing is the fact that the Electoral Commission in the same interview said that they informed the Gerard Elias QC inquiry about these matters. Despite this, there is scant mention of this in his report. Surely at the very lease it ought to have been noted as evidence received in the appendix of his report.
Quite why the Electoral Commission should decided to go public on this information now that the vote is done and dusted is a bit of a mystery. But by so doing they have reopened the issue and Assembly Members will surely feel that they were pushed into a vote with many of the salient facts still hidden from their gaze.
None of the responsible bodies come out of the situation well. The National Assembly, the Electoral Commission, and the Welsh Liberal Democrats all contributed to this comedy of Errors
Surely a thorough inquiry is required to ensure that nothing like it ever happens again.
It used to be said about Westminster that it was difficult to work out which end of Whitehall produced the best farces, parliament or the Whitehall theatre. Is there an equivalent street in Cardiff, if not there should be.