The new MP for the Vale of Glamorgan announced earlier this week that he intends to step down as an Assembly Member.
We have already seen a re-jigging of the Conservatives Assembly group in reaction to Alun Cairns’ departure – Nick Ramsay is taking over the roles of chief whip and business manager – a good promotion for the Monmouthshire AM and an indication perhaps of the high regard in which he is held by his Conservative colleagues.
So what is there to discuss? Alun Cairns is a regional list member, so in the event of him leaving the next person on the list takes his place, no? Alun Cairns has tendered his resignation. The Conservative management board has said previously that AMs should resign if they get elected to Westminster. So it looks pretty clear that Mr Cairns won’t be doing a David Davies, or is it?
Well as Betsan Powys hints here and Wales Home explains here it’s not that straight forward. So who is next on the list? Who ‘should’ be taking over form Alun Cairns?
Well it’s none other than Mr Chris Smart.
Don’t know who he is? Well in all honesty neither did I until a few days ago, but having spoken to a few people and done a bit of research, it’s pretty clear that he isn’t universally seen as an ideal replacement.
Why’s that then?
Well there’s a saying that says “all publicity is good publicity” – that’s not necessarily the case with Mr Smart here. Here are two excerpts from articles about him (full links here and here).
“THE Tory leader of Porthcawl Town Council has been declared bankrupt.
Coun Chris Smart, who held his Newton seat in May’s elections by just 14 votes, was declared bankrupt on June 6 by the High Court of Justice” – Glamorgan Gazette June 2008
“... he was bound over to keep the peace after a series of bizarre incidents where he was said to have posed as a school inspector.
Port Talbot magistrates were told Mr Smart stopped children in streets at Margam, Aberavon and Sandfields and asked them why they were not in school.
In each instance the children had full authority to be out of school.
On one occasion Mr Smart was alleged (emphasis added) to have made children bend and touch their toes and threatened to spank them with a cricket bat.
Mr Smart, who at the time was 22, was bound over in the sum of £100 to keep the peace for two years.” – Western Mail March 2007
He defended these actions by saying:
"I was over-zealous at the time and I don't deny that... I was motivated purely by a desire to stop truancy." – Western Mail March 2007 (same article)
The above article is about how his past has been used against Mr Smart before. In 2007 there was a series of anonymous leaflets produced. Read the whole article (link above) for the full context.
We will find out by the end of today whether or not Mr Smart will take over from Alun Cairns in the Senedd. He is certainly “ready, willing and raring to go...”
I suppose we’ll also find out if “all publicity is good publicity”...