Wednesday, 8 August 2007

No more blogging for a week or three

When Lord Lucan is discovered (again) it's time to go on holiday.

I will be back at my PC on September 3.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Digging for victory?

I've been struggling to keep up with, or rather stay at wake during, the war of e-mails between Labour and the Conservatives over David Anstee's defection.

Not since Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee disputed the last comb in the cabinet room has a political row assumed such relevance.

To bring you up to date, the Conservatives have now withdrawn their threat to report Rhondda AM and junior Minister Leighton Andrews to the standards commissioner.

Indeed, the Welsh Tories' "chief of staff" (don't you love these military titles?) Paul Morris has issued a grovelling apology to Rhondda AM and junior Minister Leighton Andrews.

That hasn't stopped Paul Morris's boss, Nick Bourne, from writing to the Prime Minister to complain about Labour tactics in exaggerating the role played by David Anstee in Welsh Conservative politics.

Indeed, Anstee himself has criticised the way the defection was handled.

Nick Bourne said the claim about Mr Anstee and the manifesto "is totally without foundation and massively overstates the role played by Mr Anstee" - the Tories no longer claim Leighton Andrews was responsible for some of the claims made by Labour.

Anstee himself has given an exclusive interview to Rhondda TV about the reasons behind his defection.

At least, I think he has. I tuned in to Rhondda TV but unfortunately there were technical problems - rather too much wind noise on the microphone and sound out-of-synch with the pictures - so I may have missed the point.

Perhaps the station needs a little guidance in broadcast skills from an unremunerated honorary professor at Cardiff University's School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies?

Monday, 6 August 2007

A defective defection?

My inbox has been pinging with claim and counter-claim today as Labour and the Tories do battle over the lastest "defector" between the two parties.

David Anstee, a 26-year-old teacher and former Tory council candidate in Rhondda Cynon Taff, has defected to Labour.

Not exactly the biggest fish in the sea, but this is August and the political parties appear to have noticed a gap in the media coverage between the foot and mouth outbreak and the National Eisteddfod.
Labour claim Anstee (left) was "one of the Tories' brightest young politicians in Wales" and
"a member of a powerful Welsh Conservative Policy Group which wrote the party's 2007 Assembly election manifesto".

Prime Minister Gordon Brown was swift to welcome the conversion. The Conservatives were less impressed: "David Anstee was in no way involved in putting together the 2007 election manifesto."


The Conservatives are now threatening to report Labour AM Leighton Andrews to the commissioner for standards unless he apologises for allegedly exaggerating Anstee's role.

The former Tory's conversion does appear to have been a rapid one. This is what he thought of David Cameron (who decided to send his child to a state school) just six months ago:

"A Politician who does what he says, says what he believes and isn't afraid to stand out in the crowd. Could this be a PM in waiting. Cameron should be applauded for taking the education of his child so seriously. He has made an intelligent decision which could have landed him in hot water with certain quarters of the electorate.

"He had nevertheless run rough shod over the insiduous rantings of the anti-faith school faction and has made a good decision for the future of his child. Surely now we can trust the future of our children with someone who puts his own children's futures first!"

Labour's response to the Tory rebuttal?

'The Tories are wrong to say David Anstee played no role in helping draw up Tory policies for the 2007 Assembly election. He even attended a meeting of the Welsh Conservative Policy Forum, run by Tory Policy Co-ordinator David Melding AM, to discuss policies for the 2007 election."

David Melding says he doesn't know Anstee, but that hasn't stopped Gordon Brown interrupting his busy day fighting foot and mouth to say:

"I am pleased that David listened to my call for moderate Conservatives to join the Labour party and help build a better Britain.

"I welcome him to the party and look forward to hearing of his positive contribution in the future."

Friday, 3 August 2007

Old cricketers never die

Is there a more wonderfully-sponsored sports event than the Dorset Funeral Plan Cricket League?

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Cancel those phone lines, Eleanor

Brrring, brrring; brrring, brrring. I rush to the mobile. A familiar voice at the other end.

"Hello, this is the Mayor of London." Lembit Opik, for it is he, rings to let me know he won't be running for the Lib Dem nomination for Mayor.

Or does he? Opik uses the familiar phrase "I have no plans to......", a phrase pioneered by Michael Heseltine in the months leading up to his challenge to Margaret Thatcher.

But Opik tells me: "I have no plans to run for Mayor, and if you think that's a way of saying I will stand then you need to get yourself a map.

"There are two conditions under which I would stand. One, that Montgomeryshire becomes a London borough. Two, that Welshpool becomes a station on the Metropolitan line."

Latter day Dick Whittington

This may or may not be a silly season story. Lembit Opik is considering running as the Liberal Democrat candidate for London mayor.

The leader of the Welsh Lib Dems says the speculation linking him with the job is "ever so flattering".

"If I was a London MP I would stand like a shot. The only issue is my constituency is 205 miles away."

That may indeed be an issue with local party activists in Montgomeryshire, but Opik is clearly undeterred after positive comments from an aide to party leader Sir Menzies Campbell.

Sir Menzies can expect a call. "I think I might go and have a chat with the boss to see what's going on. The momentum seems to be developing a life of its own."

Is London ready for a fight between Ken Livingstone, Boris Johnson and Lembit Opik?

"Me, Boris and Ken would be a splendid contest. It would get a lot of interest and get the public voting as well."

It's a toss-up who will be more delighted by the news - Tory Montgomeryshire candidate Glyn Davies or would-be Welsh Lib Dem leader Eleanor Burnham AM.

The creation of directly-elected mayors has certainly led to a more presidential politics although this three-way fight could perhaps be less of an election campaign and more of a reality TV series.

Opik's connections with London may not be as strong as those of his rivals - judging by the photograph above he appears a little confused about the concept of a Chelsea tractor.

Still, I can't wait for the Hello! election pull-out.