With Carmarthenshire County Council continuing to show the rest of Wales how to avoid scrutiny and stifle the democratic process, I received a response from my regional AM concerning filming at council meetings. Ok it wasn’t a response from my AM as such, rather it was a relaying of the Local Authorities Minister’s view. Here’s Carl Sargeant reply.
It would seem that the minister thinks that filming without prior consent shouldn’t be allowed; fair enough say you, however this is just licence for controlling chief executives, mayors and chairpersons to avoid transparency which suppresses local democracy. The minister also explains that he disagrees with filming people without their knowledge and permission, again fair enough; however, councillors are public representatives and are acting publicly in council meetings, so should be ready for people to film them while debating and voting on matters that will affect their constituents.
However, I contacted the AM regarding her view on the principle of filming should be allowed in council meetings. However, the principle isn’t expressly discussed in the reply, but the minister does outline that the Welsh Government does support councils’ engagement with the public. The minister has not, as of yet, set out guidelines for councils on this issue as shown in my recent FOI request, he does encourage councils to make the maximum effort in engaging the public in their proceedings. However without guidelines councils won’t do anything they don’t have to. This is all ambiguous stuff, with the minister relying on good will, and as we have seen, some councils are short of that.
It was good to see that the minister commends Carmarthenshire’s plans to webcast proceedings, and that it is an example to other councils. However a similar idea (Carmarthen TV) has been mooted for a while and as of yet is still to be seen. I suppose time will tell.
So Plaid Cymru were ridiculed for their plans called Build4Wales where bonds would be issued to pay for investment in Welsh infrastructure etc. However it would seem that the UK government have agreed that this is a great idea, and offered it to Scotland. So what about Wales? When will Wales get its “Calman like” commission that was promised, and when will we be getting borrowing powers so we can pay our own way.
Incidentally, it would seem that Labour have decided that a few months after the election campaign that this is now a good idea. As Mabon ap Gwynfor succinctly puts it:
“Who is it that called it Pie in the sky? Lib Dems.
Who called in “ineffective”? Conservatives
Who said it was “to good to be true”? Labour”
So, Ieuan Wyn Jones has announced that he will go in the first half of this Assembly term. I doubt I’m the first one to raise the question, “who will be in the running?”
First of all I should consider whether this is a good thing for the Party. I was intending to wait until Carwyn Jones had announced his government before blogging about why Ieuan should go. Yes, Ieuan led the party into a coalition government for the first time, and had served as Deputy First Minister from 2007 to 2011. And yes it was Plaid with him at the helm who secured a referendum on ‘more powers to Wales’ – all of which, achievements and milestones.
However, between 2000 and 2011, Plaid has slipped from a strong second Party in Welsh politics, to a weak third. 1999 was a strong showing, maybe a swell of support for due to the creation of the new Assembly, and a sense of pride in our new fledgling democracy. However the following 3 election weren’t to live up to the success of the first. It is certainly time for Plaid
Eleven years is a very long time to lead a party, and it certainly time for Ieuan to step aside. Plaid needs to identify its purpose, what will its role be in this decade? What is the next step in the national project? So, who then could possibly take over from Ieuan?
Here are, who I think could be contenders (in no particular preference):
Rhodri Glyn Thomas: This would not be a step forward for the Party. I believe this would be much of the same, it would be a continuation of what we’ve had over the last decade. However, he could be a possible stop-gap untill 2016, when Adam Price might return to Welsh politics.
Simon Thomas: Although he is a newbie to the Assembly, a novice he is not. Former MP and special advisor to the previous Welsh government, Simon certainly could be what Plaid needs to take it forward.
Leanne Wood: Could Leanne, who is on the left-wing of the Party, win enough support to lead the Party. A few have already suggested that she could be what the Party needs to win in the Valleys and North East Wales. I for one don’t think that it’ll be as easy as that.
Dafydd Elis Thomas: Of course lets not forget the former Presiding officer. Never one to shy away, could Dafydd be tempted to take the leadership once again? He’s already said how Plaid worked well with Labour, could Plaid under him find itself in perpetual coalition with Labour?
Elin Jones: One of the Plaid ministers in the previous Government, I think Elin would be a popular leader with both left and right in the party.
Or could there be a surprise contender? Interesting times.