Not Only in the Assembly

Reading the reports of what Adam Price thinks of the quality and skills of elected politicians, I can't help but note that it is being interpreted as specific criticism of members of the National Assembly.

Here is the BBC's header:

Assembly Members "lack skills", says ex-MP Adam Price

A former Plaid Cymru MP often tipped as a future party leader has attacked the quality of Welsh Assembly politicians ...

BBC, 10 November 2010

And therefore, as surely as night follows day, the reaction from Assembly politicians has been completely predictable. The LibDems see it as "belittling the Assembly" and even Helen Mary Jones seemed to be on the back foot when she said the Assembly was a "better representation of Welsh society than Westminster".

I watched the piece on CF99 last night, and the clips that were shown seemed to confirm that view. But I had also watched Newyddion, and this is a clip from it:


The BBC's line in this piece too was that Adam Price was specifically attacking the standard of Assembly politicians. But that wasn't the point Adam was making. For those who don't understand Welsh, he said:

... not only in Wales, but everywhere—even in Westminster—the same thing is true.

So why wasn't that remark picked up in either the BBC's story on its website or in CF99 itself? It can only be the most amazing oversight or an attempt to misrepresent the point Adam was making. He was talking about elected politicians in general, not Assembly members in particular ... though of course the points apply every bit as much to AMs as to other elected politicians, and he is obviously more concerned about Wales than anywhere else.

In the discussion that followed on CF99, Daran Hill made the point that the problem of career politicians was in fact worse in Westminster than in Cardiff Bay. Yet he might not have needed to make that point if he had known that Adam Price had already said it, but that it had been edited out of the CF99 version.


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Anonymous said...

I don't know how anyone can disagree with what Adam Price has said. I'm people from all parties and backgrounds would agree with him.

Typically though, its edited and presented as fitting part of the 'Welsh Assembly is amateur and second rate' narrative (always 'Welsh', rather than national, notice just to underline some prejudices people have towards 'the Welsh').

Owen said...

I've often felt that quite a few AM's have a County Council mentality rather than viewing themselves as members of a national legislature. Far too many of them seem overly concerned about matters in their own neck of the woods without seeing the bigger picture. "If it's not in my ward, it doesn't matter."

Perhaps with the exception of Plaid, many of Wales's more ambitious and talented people/politicians look eastwards to climb the ladder. I honestly think many view being an AM as a stepping stone to something "better", a taster. Far more than Scotland, which has a more solid national identity and Northern Ireland which has a "seperateness" for a multitude of reasons.

Look at Alun Cairns, I would've had him nailed-on to be a future Welsh Tory leader, now he can look forward to being a bag-carrier and probably relishes that more sadly.

This may sound bizarre, but I honestly would prefer seeing the likes of Peter Hain, Chris Bryant, Paul Flynn and even Lembit Opik in the Senedd rather than Westminster.

Anonymous said...

yes while it does seem as if adam was refering to politicians in the uk in general what cannot be overlooked is that he did also specifically refer to politicians in wales. Further adam is not some naive young politician being lured into a cleverly laid trap by a hawkish and crafty interviewer..adam is an experienced politician and skilled performer in front of the cameras and surely must have known exactly how his criticisms of politicians in wales would be interpreted?

Of course such statements...especially given that they have come from a prominent welsh nationalist.. must be manna from heaven for every anti-devolutionist! Indeed im sure last nite i heard the sound of champagne corks popping in the true wales 'strongold' of islwyn!

As if a leading 'welsh nationalist' thinks politicians in wales are not up to the job then doesnt this confirm the whole premise of the anti-devolutionist true wales argument that welsh politicians in cardiff should not have more powers?...and that maybe there shouldnt even be an assembly at all...? As make no mistake the no campaign will be making maximum use of adam's comments when the two respective campaigns hit the doorsteps next year!

So in that sense i find adam's comments very ill well of course as being a very real slight on those many politicians in wales who do have skills,life experience and ability and who are the equal at least of any members of the british parliament at westminster. Welsh politicians who will ...unlike adam it has to be said...actually be in wales next spring fighting for a stronger welsh assembly.

Leigh Richards

MH said...

Anon, I agree. I'm not questioning the general point, only that it should be presented by the BBC as applying only to AMs. I agree with you over the words we use too. I like saying "National Assembly".

I agree with Owen too. There is a sense in which Labour's attempt to prevent cutting Welsh over-representation at Westminster is a "last stand" battle, for it should mark one of the biggest swings in the perceived importance of the two places. We should always keep in mind that the BBC St David's Day polls consistently show a margin of about three to one in favour of most decisions that affect Wales being made in Cardiff Bay rather than Westminster. So yes, it will be a positive thing when the likes of Hain, Bryant and Flynn choose to stand as AMs rather than MPs.

Leigh, same point as to Anon above. Nobody doubts it applies to AMs, of course it does ... just not only to AMs. But it's hard to be sure about whether he was led into a deliberate trap. He did make the point about it applying everywhere clearly enough, but it was edited out of the CF99 and web versions, and ignored on Newyddion. I would have expected better from Vaughan, because he could have made it clearer.

I fully agree that there is a "narrative" at play, and that more unscrupulous people can be guaranteed to push the "they're all second rate and incompetent" line. This post was intended to put the record straight. The video is now here for all to link to.

Anonymous said...

yes MH your point about some of the things adam said being edited out does sound rather does seem as if the programme makers maybe did have an agenda of their own ie politicians in wales are 'second rate'....and as you say we would normally expect better of people like vaughan than no question you did the right thing in posting the link for people to see for themselves what adam may or may not have aid.....cheers

Leigh Richards

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