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Hill Kill Bill?

Betsan Powys | 09:26 UK time, Wednesday, 11 May 2011

It's not often that Quentin Tarantino is evoked in the hushed, brushed wood environs of the Senedd. In fact, I think it's a personal first - and it was all about who fills the shoes of the outgoing Presiding Officer and his deputy. In other words, as Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas exits stage left, who fills his shoes and that of his deputy.

In Quentin's list of characters, Presiding Officer = Speaker of the Assembly.

We know for sure that the former deputy, Labour's Rosemary Butler, becomes the boss in the next Assembly. Then last night came a message. The rumours that the Conservative, David Melding will, after all, be standing as Deputy Presiding Officer are absolutely true, it said but it's not true that the campaign to get him elected is called 'Kill Bill.'

That last bit was a joke, in case you start to worry that things have taken a particularly nasty turn down in Cardiff Bay. The joke was at the expense of William Graham, also a Conservative member. He'd already made it clear he'd like to be considered as DPO and yesterday afternoon, most of us thought he might well be elected.

But if Mr Melding does indeed throw his hat into the ring, all that could well change. I don't know what Quentin T would make of David Melding but he's a politician who has a very big brain, a strategic - and open - mind, he does heavy-duty influence with a very light touch and has probably the biggest cross-party fanbase in Cardiff Bay.

The question then: will William Graham stand and fight, or not? He may be the politest man in Cardiff Bay but he's no push over.

What we know for sure is that Dafydd Elis-Thomas leaves the big chair - a man who knew exactly when to kick over the traces (as we say in Welsh and I hope, in English) and exactly when to soothe and schmooze and who did both with some vigour. But while he now returns fully to join his colleagues in the Plaid Cymru group (with equal vigour, I'm sure) I gather he won't be joining the Plaid Cymru benches in the chamber.

There's one too many Plaid AM to fit into the space next to the Liberal Democrats apparently and so Lord Elis-Thomas - I'm told - will have to cross the gangway and sit with the Labour group. Given his undisguised talking-up of a deal between Plaid and Labour "sooner than all of you think" on Radio Cymru this morning, I'm sure he'll find it a very handy place to be.

"You wouldn't bet against some sort of deal between Labour and Plaid in the future" is, from memory, what I said on the Ten o'clock news last night. So how soon is "sooner than all of you think" I wonder?

How's this for a plan? A decision in the Plaid ranks not to go in for long drawn out introspection, a short, sharp inquiry into what went wrong for them in the election and how to set about sorting out structures and strategies, a new, young, leader in place by the Autumn and another four year deal struck with Labour next year?

I'll let you have a stab at the rest of the script.


Well, the script on the DPO job is getting more interesting by the minute.

William Graham has just issued a furious press release attacking political commentator and public affairs consultant Daran Hill for what he calls "unwelcome and unprecedented interference" in this afternoon's vote.

In a statement, Mr Graham said, "A well-known political commentator is trying to influence the vote for the Deputy Presiding Officer.

"This outside interference is unprecedented and unwelcome in a Members secret and un-whipped ballot."

The response from Mr Hill? "Like others who work with Assembly Members, I've not hidden my support for David Melding. It's hard not to be impressed by him. He will win this contest on merit. Though I should probably stop retweeting other people soon and get on with some work."

If the Presiding Officer and First Minister votes are likely to be foregone conclusions this afternoon - the deputy Presiding Officer one is anything but, by the looks of things.


David Melding - 46
William Graham - 12

Team Butler-Melding it is.



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