Thursday, 26 April 2012

Night on the town

The Welsh Assembly’s standards watchdog  are to investigate the Llanelli AM Keith Davies’s behaviour in the 5 star St David’s hotel after a night out. 
This is not the first and probably won’t be the last time a politician is in trouble because of booze. Politics, late night and drink seem to go together. After all it’s said that Churchill won the war on brandy and of course the behaviour of George Brown whilst Foreign Secretary was the subject of much hilarity.
It is alleged that an altercation took place involving Mr Davies which resulted in the hotel contacting the Assembly Commission to express concerns about his behaviour. 
The reason the Commission was contacted is because the Assembly pay for the stay of out of town AM’s at the five-star St David's Hotel in Cardiff Bay.  Quite why we the taxpayers are paying for 5 star hotels for politicians is, of course another matter.
Whilst Mr Davies’s behaviour in the hotel may be of concern to the Assembly authorities it is another aspect of the evening that should cause us all greater worry.
According to the BBC web site the incident happened after “He had earlier joined other AMs and political figures for dinner and drinks to celebrate the birthday of a political lobbyist.”

Now apart from Mr Davies who were ''the other AMs and political figures." Surely such gatherings ought to be a matter of public record. 
This is another example of the cosy relationship between politicians and lobbyists. These events are part of the tools that the Lobby industry use to access and influence politicians. 
Without doubt this was a very pleasant social occasion and nothing as sordid as business will have interfered with the enjoyment of the night. But we would be very naive to think that such events are harmless. 
Lobbyist’s use these “social” events to build their networks of contacts. Once the network is established access and influence follow just as night follows day. Anthropologist’s have a term for it “the reciprocal gift relationship” In the valleys it’s described as “you scratch my back...”

Perhaps it’s this that the Assembly Commission should be looking into, not if an AM has had one over the eight.


  1. In the valley's - should that be valleys..

    Come on Gareth!

    Old schoolteacher

  2. Well, why are Assembly Members using 5* hotels? Why wouldn't a 3* do?.

    Why is it that AM's that only live an hour from Cardiff must spend the night there at the tax payers expense?

  3. Indeed. Who were these other AM's and 'political figures' paid for by us to be there, enjoying themselves. And what about the connection between the lobbyist in question and the AM's - whatever happened to transparency and openess?

  4. Old schoolteacher, you're right, rushed work is now corrected.

  5. Other political figures are probably political staff and special advisers.

    But why the cloak and dagger act from the press, ask yourself why journalists wont name the other politicians or the lobbyist involved, especially after the revelations at Leveson this week.

    While i agree with Gareth on the need for a register of lobbyists, im surprised no one is asking about the cosy relationship between welsh politicians and media because its as bad as with the lobbyists.

  6. so the commission should look in to what politicians do in their own free time? Why should they have any life at all? It is not the business of the commission to judge when and where someone goes in their free time.

    If a politician acts in an inappropriate way, investigate away of course, but this issue, as expected, is being used by the press to tarnish ALL politicians.

    The same happened when many MPs abused the expenses system. AMs who did not have anything to hide were abused too.

    There should be a register of lobbyists, and formal meetings noted and and made public. But to try and smear a company or the concept of lobbying without evidence, because one AM has been reported
    ( and not charged with anything yet, by the way) then everyone suffers.

    And the journalists in the Bay are above all this, I take it? they never drink with politicians at conferences, do they? They never try and curry favour with anyone in the political world. Ha!

    I seem to have been told that you have been seen in the members tea room with a glass of wine in your hand, huddled in a corner talking to politicians on many occasions in the past. Should someone report that to the press complaints or to a higher authority, perhaps? Just a thought.

  7. Yes, i've often been in the company of politicians trying to get information to put into the public domain, hopefully for the public good not for the profit of a company .

  8. The Etap is a just less mile away from the National Assembly and costs from £31 per night, The Travel Lodge £59.95 - and that is just a gentle stroll from the National Assembly - and is closer than the St David's Hotel (starting from £119 per night).

  9. Gareth I seem to recall you were in the company of a now former minister on the night he walked into a pub with a lit cigar. Notice you didnt put that information into the public domain for the public good after it happenned.

  10. Amazing that there's so much excitement over the cost of a hotel room - additionally less than £100 - but nary a whisper over, say, the £60m overspend on the Porth bypass when the Audit Office released a report on that over a year ago. Perhaps Gareth can square his commitment to the "public good" with why he chooses to continually ignore stories of similar magnitude to the tax payer in favour of the salacious and unsubstantiated peddling of inconsequential Bay tittle tattle?

    Unfortunately, this is what political reporting has come to in Wales. You should all turn those judgmental eyes on your own standards - particularly you, Gareth. You represent no media organisation and can claim to speak on no one's behalf. You can offer up no evidence whatsoever that so-called lobbying has any impact upon the decision-making that goes on in the Senedd. If you can, stand it up.

  11. As a political journalist it was for years my job to mix and talk with politicians. For the record Yes, I was in the company of a politician smoking a cigar in a pub. But the anonymous commentator is wrong is saying that I did not act on the story. I was part of the ITV team that covered the story and yes, I gave a factual account of what happened to a journalist from the South Wales Echo the next morning and it was on the record and attributable. Since my contract finished with ITV I've been a freelance, and don't hide the fact as can be seen from the script at the top of the blog. So I work for many outlets, not sure of the point being made.

  12. What concerns me is that the Lobbyist, understood to be Darren Hill, a prominent Labour supporter, is often used by Welsh media as a commentator, when your superior services, Gareth, are not available. His vested interests should be disclosed before he appears on TV.

    And as for cigargate - compared to waging illegal wars, or failing to declare donations, or fiddling expenses, or deliberately wrecking the economy in order to enrich the rich, it appears rather a forgettable incident.