Casting votes and stones
Sorry about the light blogging recently. The equation to blame is the one that goes 'a decade of devolution = a ton of work'.
Ten years ago today 46.3% of us turned out to vote in the first Assembly election.
Ten years on first First Secretary as he was about to be called, Alun Michael, argues that though there have been successes over the past decade, the National Assembly has not "punched above its weight" on the economy and education. If you were up early and listening to Radio 5 Live you may have heard Rhodri Morgan responding by writing Alun Michael out of the history books.
"There's never been a First Minister of Wales before" he told Nicky Campbell "so you are able to shape it in the way that you want because there's been, I don't know, 150 Prime Ministers but there's only been one First Minister so it's nice to be able to shape a job and make what you want of it without anybody looking over your shoulder.".
Technically correct I suppose but point made?
It's also been an opportunity to look back at archive footage of May 6th 1999 and to be reminded of one throwaway comment that I wondered at the time whether it had - unintentionally - captured something that was worth mulling over.
Labour were losing seats they'd never envisaged were in danger and Plaid were winning seats they've never envisaged were within reach. There were Plaid officials who weren't even sure what some of their own candidates - now Assembly Members - were called. Both parties were in shock.
Labour's Shane Williams had been beaten in Islwyn, Wayne David in the Rhondda, Ann Garrard in Llanelli. Peter Hain came onto the programme. Over and again he reminded - not just the viewers you sensed but his own party that it was Labour that had given devolution to Wales. It was a Labour government that had called a referendum and a Labour-led campaign that had won it. If it wasn't for Labour, this election would never be happening he said. The semi-proportional voting system in this election would never have come into play, if it hadn't been for a Labour government. Meanwhile Labour heartland seats kept falling.
Was he trying to say, I asked, that Labour were losing out of the goodness of their own hearts? He stopped a second and looked exasperated. Not at all he said but it was Labour who'd had the vision to deliver devolution - don't forget that.
Perhaps he already foresaw that ten years ago today the first Assembly Election had given the other parties a foot-hold and the organisation that until then they'd lacked and that Labour's dominance of Welsh politics was under attack.