Monday, 23 November 2009

Translation last Thursday's Golwg Column - Special Advisors

Reading about the Tudors gives my great pleasure. Films and TV drama about the period are a constant source of satisfaction.
Glenda Jackson playing Elizabeth 1 was memorable. Its a constant course of regret to me that she gave up acting for politics although her old skills may well be useful in her new career.
It's strange to think that modern Britain started off in a small bay of the coast of Pembrokeshire when Henry Tudor landed with his army before moving on the Bosworth to defeat Richard III and become  Henry VII and start the Tudor age.
The popularity of Court officials were in and out like the tide, on the whim of the king or queen. And certainly those with influence in the court would change on the death of the reigning monarch.
It will be the same in Wales next month. As soon as the Queen accepts Rhodri Morgan's resignation as First Minister his advisors will have to clear their desks and head for home. Apart from a couple that will help the transition to the new regime, the rest will be out in the cold.
History gives us a clear picture of the influence of the special advisors in the past. We are reasonably aware of the influence Thomas Cromwell had as chief advisor to Henry VIII. He was one of those who argued and was enthusiastic about the Refomation - the split of the English church from the Roman Catholic church.
But today? What do we know about the influence the Special  Advisors have on our government here in Wales? We haven't a clue  where their coming from and their  take on the world. What exactly do they do? Are they worth the public money spent on them?
In the United States those appointed to high office in an adminstration are vetted publicly by Senate committees before they take up their posts. Welsh democracy would be the healthier if the same happened here. And certainly special advisors should be submitted to such a process  if Wales was to adopt such a system. It would be our opportunity to assess them, know their views and the advice they are likely to offer  Ministers.
Certainly the one growth industry of recent years, is that of advice. Most of our public representatives have paid advisors. What on earth do they all do?
Does anyone think that we are more efficiently or better managed or ruled now, than in the past? The answer surely is, no.

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