Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Watching the watchmen

Last week we translated this blog post from Vaughan Roderick for you. We did not, however, translate this one.

After what Jenny Randerson has had to say today, however, perhaps it's worth doing so:

It's Friday morning. Before bringing things to a close before half term we need to update the story about Rhodri Morgan and the Treganna schools.

Yesterday the Liberal Democrats made an official complaint that Rhodri had broken the Assembly Ministers' code of conduct. That code can be very vague at times and all of Rome's theologians would be needed to fully understand its exact meaning. To continue with the religious theme Rhodri must act like the holy trinity in this case. As First Minister it's his role to judge if a minister (in this case himself) has broken the rules.

Rhodri has responded to the complaint by claiming it's a "political observation" rather than a serious complaint. The Lib Dems have written back noting their belief that the First Minister has broken them.

The First Minister again rejected the claims in a second response to Jenny Randerson and here's Jenny's reaction - in a press release dramatically entitled Who watches the watchmen?:

“I am extremely concerned that the First Minister will not investigate this legitimate complaint that he may have broken the Ministerial Code, a code of conduct for the Ministers of Wales, policed by himself.

“By not setting up an independent investigation, he is effectively acting as the judge and the accused in his own case. What sort of precedent is this supposed to give to this young democracy if the First Minister of Wales won’t allow himself to be investigated?

“If the First Minister believes that he has not breached his own Ministerial Code, he should have the confidence to set up an independent body to investigate this claim to dismiss the allegations."

Ms Randerson is now apparently taking legal advice before making her next move against the First Minister.

Given his remarks were - eventually - made as the elected representative of the families who use the Treganna schools, is it not only right for him to have his say on this issue, even if it does raise questions about the code of conduct.

And where does one draw the line between using race for political aims and simply being brave enough to discuss questions of "ethnic polarisation" at all? Sometimes it is simply unreasonable (and undesirable) to expect a minister to keep quiet about the ethnic repercussions that any move may have - particularly when it's a move which has created so much protest and tension within his/her own constituency. And which has the potential to create even more hostility in the future.

What do you think?

Dewi Dau


1 comment:

Draig said...

I think there are a few issues here, which need to be disentangled. One of those issues revolves around Labour's highly ambiguous relationship with the Welsh language, and more specifically, Welsh medium education.

There is a long term cultural shift underway towards the Welsh language in the English speaking areas of Wales. Many of these areas are also traditional Labour strongholds. I know in some areas of South Wales (Bridgend comes to mind, although it's not Labour anymore obviusly) Labour have held back this trend.

I think that some of the Labour people equate the language with Plaid, and so see the growth of Welsh medium education as equivalent with the growth of Welsh nationalism.

I don't think that many parents see it like this. I think many of them just see the language as an opportunity to give their kids an edge in life. In other words - they see it in a non political way.

But like I say, the issue with Ysgol Treganna and schools reorganisation is not about what parents think, it's about what Labour thinks.