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.


  1. In truth, there is absolutely nothing amusing about this whole affair. It's a national disgrace.

    No, we don't need any more expensive and ridiculous committees of enquiry, we simply need people to be upstanding and honourable.

    I suspect the National Assembly will not recover in the eyes of the electorate until those responsible for such nonsense have resigned.

  2. Surely Aled Roberts needs to be suspended until the truth is discovered. Until this matter is resolved, the National Assembly will remain (and rightly) an object of ridicule.

  3. the electoral commission are a bunch of nervous women , spluttering about making decisions or not! I've given them evidence that a conservative am gave a wrong address on their ballot paper , election null and void under the EC rules...they are too frightened to follow it up

  4. KP Clutching at his anti-devolution straws, as he does on so many blogs. The assembly will recover, KP, have no doubts about that.

    I'm sure Kirsty - who raised this as an issue in the scrutinising committee considering the regulations, has lost credibility with her party for failing to do anything about her misgivings, the Electoral commission that was already looking silly because of the nonsensical situation regarding official campaigns (a result, partly, of a very flawed piece of Westminster legislation, the 2000 elections and referendums act), and the assembly were at fault for an inadequate change to regulations, but none of this is terminal, and they will all recover. The electorate just don't care about the esoteric niceties.

  5. Siônnyn, you claim "The electorate just don't care about the esoteric niceties".

    I suspect, and especially so in light of the Milly Dowler phone-hacking case, you are wrong.

    Time will tell.