Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Colin and Helen

I married Colin and Helen today. They both seem very, very happy. I wish them well for the future.Part of the joy of being a priest is that you can celebrate with others at very special moments in their lives. Today was a great privilege.

Monday, 28 December 2009

A Great Christmas

Christmas was great. Really enjoyed being back in Saint Catherine's Pontypridd on Christmas Eve and yesterday. I hope Marcus, our Vicar, gets better soon.

Christmas was all about family, gifts and eating. Eating far too much. So, it's back to the gym soon for a great deal of hard labour.

What's been real fun has been catching up with some good reading - especially Michael Mansfield's Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer. What an interesting life! It's always good to read about individuals who are willing to go an extra mile for their convictions concerning justice. Sometimes, brave as well...

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Well Done Obama

Congratulations to my friends in the US. Health care almost there. Good vote today.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Enid Blyton

Just watched Enid on my iplayer. Seems to have been a horrible woman and mother. She sold a lot of books though. Never mind, I never liked Noddy anyway. A warning to anyone who has a public life.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Old Trafford

Just come back from Manchester. Had a great day with my All Wales Convention friend Alex who got some fantastic tickets in Old Trafford to watch Aston Villa. To be in the "Theatre of Dreams" having supported United since 1968 was just brilliant. It was made all the better for having some Manchester fish and chips on the way to the match.

Pity we lost but still a great day.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

It's a Matter of Trust Thing

It's just a personal thing. I don't want to sound worthy, but my faith compels me to honour democratically elected institutions such as Parliament and the National Assembly. I also view public service - gained either through election or appointment - as a sacred trust.

For me, honouring those who hold public office is a matter of faith. For others, it may well be a matter of integrity, honour or personal conviction. I'm comfortable with the personal imperatives of all those who share such values whether they are of faith or not. I have very little time, even after recent scandals at Westminster, for those who approach politics and politicians with cynicism.

Since yesterday however, I have thought a great deal about the issue of a regional list Assembly Members switching parties. The whole thing has left me troubled.

I know that the representative mode of politics spawned by Westminster is long used to politicians commanding considerable integrity switching parties. Some of my Parliamentary heroes did so. Constituency Assembly Members switching has already happened in devolved Wales. The late Peter Law commanded considerable respect.

I readily accept that all Assembly Members are equal. They are however, not all the same. Regional Members have a different electoral mandate. Crucially, they have found their way into the National Assembly through a mandate given to their party. That's the bit that bothers me.

The different electoral mandate is clear. When Alun Michael returned to Westminster, the Labour Party, without a by-election, provided the very able Delyth Evans as a regional Assembly Member. Val Feld's tragic death as a constituency Assembly Member, in contrast, demanded a constituency by-election in 2001.

There is something else. To be honest, I was never totally convinced of the case that individuals who stood in constituency elections should be prevented, following the passing of the Government of Wales Act 2006, from standing in regional lists. I am willing to consider the counter argument, but I was always anxious that Wales' political parties found a means of ensuring that their most able people found their way into the National Assembly. I'm of the view that if switching from constituency to region was unacceptable, switching parties is even more problematic.

I'm not in the business of telling individual Assembly Members what to do if their consciences take them to a different party - whoever they are. I have sufficient challenges handling my own conscience issues thanks very much.

However, I am of the view that Welsh civic society should reflect on the need to amend legislation if the practice of regional list Members switching sides becomes commonplace. Such switching undermines the whole electoral process regarding the "second vote". It's a matter of trust.

Yes, it's a personal thing. As someone who takes voting very seriously, I would be pretty cross with any individual politician who took liberties with my vote for a party of my choice expressed through the ballot box and deposited it elsewhere without my consent. However political cultures view switching, that's the bottom line.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Beyond Belief

It was a real privilege last night to be amongst those who were at the reception to bid Rhodri Morgan farewell. I wish him and Julie well for the future. They have both been good for Wales. Well done Rhodri.

To be in such company was beyond belief.

I was deeply moved afterwards to join my Equality and Human Rights Commission friends in the Millennium Centre to listen to the superbly eloquent Colm O'Gorman. Ploughing through his book Beyond Belief. Abused by his priest, betrayed by his church, the story of the boy who sued the pope.

Deeply, deeply moving.