Tuesday, 31 March 2009

They're not singing any more

Others have written at length about the new Labour website Aneurin Glyndwr - "definitely one to watch" as Labour's leader in Wales put it. (Definitely not one to listen to for music lovers)

If you thought that was an endorsement, Rhodri Morgan says you are being "naughty". The First Minister told reporters this morning that he had no prior knowledge of the site's content or style and had not approved it.

The site has now dropped its spoof Delilah video, it says in response to protests from opponents - although there were also murmurs of the Performing Rights Society taking an interest.

Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy was said by colleagues to be "furious" about the spoof, although those close to him pointed out that "fury isn't really Paul's style".

His endorsement was apparently confined to a website putting Welsh Labour's ideas into the blogosphere rather than the Delilah spoof.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Vote Blue, Fly Green?

Anyone remember the Conservatives' re-branding as an eco-friendly party?

It's funny how the memory plays tricks. The green focus seems to have been sidelined since the credit crunch arrived.

Anyone who can recall those heady "Vote Blue, Go Green" days may be surprised to see Tory MPs claiming for internal flights in the latest list of parliamentary allowances.

David Jones, a frontbench spokesman on Welsh affairs, claimed almost £1,300 in the last financial year for flights between his constituency (Clwyd West) and Westminster.

He argues that he let the plane take the strain because engineering works on the West coast main line made travelling by train on Sundays impossible for much of the time. He also points out that the air fare is sometimes less than the cost of a return on Virgin.

No news yet on the cost to the planet or whether David Cameron plans to plant a forest or two to offset all the carbon generated.

UPDATE: A reader (they do exist) alerts me to Mr Jones's own views on the eco-benefits of Welsh food: "They also know that it has been produced reasonably locally and is not contributing to excessive carbon emissions by being flown half way across the world."

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Lib Dems go back to the land

My first Lib Dem news conference of the year (the best things in life are worth waiting for). The theme: allotments.

The Lib Dems estimate as many as 100,000 people could be on waiting lists for allotments but suggest those waiting should not be put off growing their own.

Cardiff Central MP Jenny Willott admits to trying runner beans without much success but recommends spuds: "you can't really go wrong with potatoes".

Farmer Roger Williams, from Brecon and Radnorshire, offered his own take on the issue for MPs: "The problem is we don't have a second home allotment allowance".

(I think he was joking.)

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Going for gold?

Spotted at the venue for the London 2012 Olympics: Welsh Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones.

The Plaid Cymru leader made a hush-hush visit to see preparations for the sporting spectacular in east London yesterday.

Was the sports fan - and acquaintance of Olympic champions past - there to live the Olympic dream, to fantasise about entering the stadium at the head of the marathon to the roars of a capacity crowd or standing on the gold medal podium as God Save the Queen is played?

Er, probably not. According to Plaid's Westminster leader, Elfyn Llwyd, the deputy FM was there to store up "ammunition for later use".

Mr Llwyd believes promises that the London Olympics would benefit the whole of the UK have come to nothing and that the loss of lottery funding means some youngsters in Wales are actually discouraged from taking up sport.

Few Welsh companies have bid, let alone won some of the lucrative contracts on offer. Plaid feel the south-east of England will disproportionately benefit from the whole festival while the rest of us pay for it.

Or did the suggestion he was looking for ammunition mean Mr Jones was after a place in the shooting team?

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

New Landlady for Queen Vic?

Here's one story I may have missed during my absence from Westminster.....Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan's audition for EastEnders. As I understand it, the current Queen Vice landlady Peggy Mitchell has been fighting a council by-election. Job swap?

Monday, 23 March 2009

Back from Nappy Valley

Back to work, to the relief of my family after five months in Nappy Valley; refreshed yet exhausted, relieved that my children survived the experience.

Apart from several thousand e-mails, global economic meltdown, and a couple of sessions of the Welsh Grand Committee, what did I miss?

We may or may not be an invisible nation, but Welsh political news didn't always make it to my adopted corner of south west London during the last few months.

Occasionally, the odd rumour would penetrate domestic life. Some were less believable than others - did politicians really put iPods on expenses? Pull the other one, it's got flat-screenTVs on it.

The occasional murmur of stand-offs over LCOs did reach me, although my fellow members of the Trinity Tots playgroup appeared more concerned with jobs and the economic crisis than constitutional affairs. It's funny how parenthood changes (distorts?) your priorities.

In politics, a lot has changed, a lot has stayed the same. Parliament's Welsh Affairs committee rushed out its report on gloablisation before my return. The Conservatives published their long-awaited report on devolution but have apparently yet to reach a conclusion.

The Daily Sport has acquired a new political columnist. You can apparently also follow his work on Tweetminster, the latest invention for those with too much time on their hands.

Whisper it quietly, but it is possible, I discovered, to live outside the blogosphere. Tempting as it was to rush online to discover what, for example, Peter Black had to say on the latest fiscal stimulus, something else always intervened (usually a full nappy) to concentrate the mind. There were days when I barely had time to read Hansard.

Having spent this morning ploughing through the inbox it may take me some time to catch up with political events. Please bear with me and if there's anything of significance I've missed during my time away from the coalface, do get in touch and let me know.