Monday, 15 October 2007

Take me to your leader(s)

An alien landing in Wales and demanding to be "taken to your leader" might be in for a confusing response.

If s/he landed in the middle of a Plaid Cymru conference s/he might be offered the choice between the party's president, the party's leader, the party's parliamentary leader, the party's honorary president and the party's leader in the European Parliament.

An alien alighting at a Welsh Liberal Democrat conference would be offered the choice between the leader of the Welsh Lib Dems, the party's Assembly leader and the man styled Lib Dem "shadow Welsh Secretary".

Lembit Opik told the party's Aberystwyth conference: "And I celebrate the meteoric rise of Roger Williams to Shadow Secretary of State for Wales. Yes, the torch has passed to a new generation of Shadow Cabinet Member - described by one admiring fan as John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and the Dalai Lama all rolled into one, but better."

I suggested to Sir Menzies Campbell at their party conference in Brighton that the situation was a tad confusing. Not at all, he assured me, although the party now seems to recognise the problem.

Roger Williams's appointment as "shadow Welsh Secretary" ruffled some feathers in the party at Westminster - particularly among politicians who insisted that Lembit Opik remained their boss and not Roger Williams.

Well, no longer. It looks as if the MPs will be answerable to Mike German, who will have woken this morning to discover that he's slightly older than he thought.

Mike German will apparently be briefly leader of the Welsh Lib Dems before stepping down after next year's council elections.

That should leave him enough time for a farewell tour of Blairite if not Sinatra proportions.

But what of policy, I hear you cry? Lembit Opik's girlfriend Gabi Irimia told the Western Mail: "The only issue that wasn't raised was one I really wanted, the Barnett formula.

"Probably if I'm coming next year I'll push it harder and everybody can see I'm a dead boring girl".

Boring, the Barnett formula? Surely not. With national newspapers making comparisons between economic output and public spending there may be a few twists left in that debate.

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