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Tough love?

Betsan Powys | 14:15 UK time, Monday, 21 January 2008

Granted: the Politics Show has a fairly informal dress code. The team call it 'continental elegance' but whatever you care to call it, I did wonder whether the First Minister had taken it just a bit too far yesterday.

Now I know you care about this sort of thing because of all the entries on Newsnight's blog, guess which one broke the record for the highest number of comments ever - 348 in all? It was this one in which Jeremy Paxman asked whether Newsnight presenters should wear ties or not.

Adrian Masters wasn't wearing one on the Politics Show yesterday. Neither was Rhodri Morgan. It wouldn't have gone with the jumper, the one he wore last week to see Timmy Mallett in panto in Porthcawl; the one that made you think he'd rushed to the studio from his allotment; the one that made it rather hard to listen to what he had to say.

But listen we did, especially to his response to Peter Hain's message last week that the Assembly Government won't be allowed to ban smacking.

Why won't they? Because it's not within the Assembly's competence. It would involve the Criminal Justice System - not devolved so out of bounds.

Simple? The Wales Office seem to think so. Mind you they also seemed to think Rhodri Morgan was "more than happy" to agree with them and that wasn't the impression he gave yesterday.

What he did say was that Whitehall feel so strongly about the ban on smacking being dropped, that they'd rather scupper the whole LCO than allow an Order that fails to make absolutely clear that the Assembly cannot bring in a ban on smacking. The Assembly Government don't really want to set that sort of precedent for the future.

This is how the First Minister put it: "What they (Whitehall) are saying is if you want to have the ability to have a measure in the future which would enable you to remove the so-called reasonable chastisement defence against common assault charges - parent to child or parental guardian to child, then we won't let you have the LCO at all, so on that condition we are really being obliged to rewrite the LCO".

And in case we didn't get it the first time:

" ... if you want that power in there, or any doubt about whether you want that power, you won't have the LCO at all."

Today the Wales Office say there's nothing in the 'blocking move' story. But then they also say that unless the Order is redrafted so it's made explicit that the Assembly can't bring in a smacking ban, then they won't get any of the powers.

Now I'm not sure if this is just the predicted "London calls the tune" story or not; but I'm pretty sure it's a story. And the very well placed WAG insider who said something about 'big brother politics' as I walked by this morning seemed to agree.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 05:57 PM on 21 Jan 2008,
  • Penyberth wrote:

I know it is unusual for me to agree with Westminster but on this occassion I do. How can we in Wales have the power to criminalise 'smacking' in Wales but not seek any other criminal justice power. It must be all or nothing. Whilst lobbying on behalf of the Police Federation at Plaid Cymru's Conference last year it became quite apparent that devolvement of Policing and criminal Justice was at the top of Plaid Cymru's policy agenda and from the Federation's perspective, not a bad thing, especially as Scottish officers get a 2.5% pay increase and officers in England & Wales only get 1.9%

  • 2.
  • At 11:15 PM on 21 Jan 2008,
  • gareth thomas wrote:

Yes I agree. This is significant. There has been a very strong lobbying campaign by NSPCC and others. The campaign has been particularly effective in Wales- no doubt a reflection of the close knit nature of the Welsh political community and its insulation from the concerns of Daily Mail readers. I happen to support the campaign. However criminal justice is not a devolved field and surely WAG know that an LCO can't be made in relation to it. In any event I don't think its desirable that the law on this issue should differ so markedly on either side of the border.

It's all daft - let's get on with it. My real worry is that we will have a generation of politicians that with no experience of real issues.
By the time we get economic power we will be so focussed on equality etc. that we will lose the focus on what's really important - getting our GVA above blasted Slovakia.

  • 4.
  • At 09:59 AM on 22 Jan 2008,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

And as if to prove the point, there is now a 'thread' on the Newsnight blog to cover the comments Mr Paxman is alleged to have made about Marks and Spencer's underwear not having enough, er, 'support'..

I am looking forward to your coverage of your last clothes shopping expedition, Betsan..!

  • 5.
  • At 10:44 AM on 22 Jan 2008,
  • Richard Harris wrote:

Rhodri’s jumper ! Hey, I thought it was one of those zip-up jerkins that snotty grammar school readers of the “Eagle” wore c. 1958, along with enameled Dan Dare badges (yes, its sadly my iconic epoch too).

Re the “No Smack Ban In Wales ~ or you go directly to bed”, question…I always thought that the worst thing you can say to “kids” is, “YOU CAN’T DO THAT”, because I SAY SO!”

Then they go right out and do it.

  • 6.
  • At 11:37 AM on 22 Jan 2008,
  • Eluned wrote:

We'll be waiting a long time if we want to see 'farmer Rhodri' dressing like a statesman. Or sounding like one for that matter.

Actually I take that back. I know a lot of farmers who scrub up nicely at the weekends.

  • 7.
  • At 01:13 PM on 22 Jan 2008,
  • valleysmam wrote:

I was disgusted by RM appearance on Sunday. He is the First Minister, he looked as if he had been let out of old folks gym for the day. A track suit and trainers, oh no way.
There is a dress code and he should follow it. My husband was amazed that he was allowed on to the programme in that state. It is to me disrespectful of the office he holds.
With presenters they too should have a dress standard. In Europe you would find very few of the serious commentators dressed other than in a smart and professional manner. If you wear a shirt get a tie on .If you don’t want to wear a shirt, then a plain T shirt/top with a jacket is fine. Whether we like it or not image is important, goodness only knows what people outside of Wales thought about our government from Sundays snapshot

  • 8.
  • At 01:49 PM on 22 Jan 2008,
  • paul taylor wrote:

Why O why is this being proposed, it smacks of headline grabbing to me (pun intended). The assembly should concentrate upon trying to make a real difference to the people of Wales, and up until now it really hasn't achieved that much. Stop banning things!!!!!!!!!!!!

The First Ministerial jumper/tracksuit episode has reminded an avid fan of the Politics Show of an favourite episode from Yes Prime Minister. Here's the scene setter:

The practice session for the ministerial broadcast turns out to be a learning experience for Jim Hacker. Godfrey, the television producer, gives him all sort of advise on how to sit, what clothes to wear, the way he should talk, etc.
Godfrey mentions that Jim should wear a modern suit and the background should be yellow wallpaper, abstract paintings and Stravinsky as opening music. Anything to disguise that the speech contains nothing new. If on the other hand Hacker will talk about the Grand Design then he should wear a dark suit and the reassuring traditional background (oak paneling, leather volumes and 18th century portraits). The opening music would then be Bach.

He reckons the tracksuit is the 2008 equivalent of a modern suit..?

Regular viewers of Welsh television should also be alarmed that Rhodri Morgan only owns one tie - that dark/light stripped tie he seems to wear when he sees fit.

  • 11.
  • At 04:05 PM on 22 Jan 2008,
  • frankie wrote:

As far as ties are concerned - I think they are utterly pointless, and I hate the sight of them. In fact I think it's high time that men had a good long look at the suit itself. I loathe this need to all have a uniform and look the same - 'grey men in suits'! But a start would be to stop wearing ties altogether. Let's move on in this 21st century.

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