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Poor Man's Parliament: Ten Years of the Welsh Assembly

Authors: Martin Shipton

Published by Seren

ISBN: 9781854115164

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After a decade of devolution 6 out of 10 Welsh voters don't know which parties form the Welsh Assembly Government. Rhodri Morgan, the first First Minister, was recognised by less than 50%, other party leaders have less than 10% recognition. In addition to this level of political disengagement, the system of law-making seems not fully understood even by constitutional lawyers.

This book seeks to explain why the hopes of 1999 failed to materialise and why the National Assembly has yet to capture the nation's imagination. Its themes emerge through a chronological narrative, in which the author will comment on key events. They include: UK Labour's installation of the uncharismatic Alun Michael as leader of an organisation which needed to capture public imagination; Westminster Treasury obstinancy over crucial match funding for European money, and Michael's subsequent downfall; Labour's obsession with party unity at the expense of clear national leadership; the shutting down of public debate through reliance on Assembly patronage of so many organizations; the quality of Assembly Members, especially Labour's; shameless defiance of Freedom of Information Act to stifle criticism.

Poor Man's Parliament covers the Assembly from its beginnings in 1999 to Rhodri Morgan's resignation in November 2009, exploring the record of government by Labour and Plaid Cymru, and analysis of recent electoral trends. It is written from a pro-devolution viewpoint, though one dismayed by events.

Martin Shipton has written about the National Assembly from its outset, initially as Chief Reporter of Wales on Sunday and, since 2002, as Chief Reporter of the Western Mail. He is an awardwinning journalist of thirty years standing and a graduate of the School of Journalism at Cardiff. As a journalist he has the inside track on a number of aspects of the Assembly's life and always promises a no holds barred account on proceedings.
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