Mark Reckless: In deep alliance with the Tory group, or a plus-one?

Nick Servini
Political editor, Wales

Image caption, Andrew RT Davies says Mark Reckless joins a "strong and united team"

In a guest blog by BBC Wales political correspondent Aled ap Dafydd, details are revealed of the first meeting of the Tory assembly group since Mark Reckless joined as an independent.

Mark Reckless left UKIP nearly a month ago, but with bad blood still boiling between him and the Conservatives after his previous defection he promised not to "waltz back into the party with any sense of entitlement".

His new boss in the assembly, Andrew RT Davies, took some flack from fellow Tories - one said it wasn't a "particularly bright idea".

The Easter break and the looming elections have taken the heat away, but eyes were drawn today to Mr Reckless's change of seat in the Senedd.

Sitting on the Conservative bench he asked his first plenary question since the furore.

But what do we call him?

How should we describe him in the line of text in a news item when he appears on TV?

The answer is a little confusing.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption, Nigel Farage welcomed Mark Reckless to the UKIP fold in 2014. He left earlier this year.

His official title, given by the Assembly Commission, is that of Independent AM. He's not a Conservative AM but is a member of the Conservative group and takes the Conservative whip.

So how does that work?

On Tuesday Conservative AMs met, as they do every Tuesday.

They discussed the local and general elections and manifesto matters, without Mark Reckless.

He then knocked on the door, joined the meeting and they all talked about assembly business.

There is, the members were told, "a deep alliance" between the group and its new recruit.

One member, however, said: "We are 11 plus one".

The account given made it sound like Mr Reckless was a country member at a golf club - allowed to use the clubhouse, but with no right to play.

Image caption, Elin Jones described Andrew RT Davies leader of the opposition in the chamber on Tuesday

The "plus-one" means that Andrew RT Davies will be given an extra £1,000 but I suspect that being called leader of the opposition - as he was by the presiding officer on Tuesday - is more important than any monetary gain.

As far as this story is concerned, titles are important. On the day he left UKIP I asked Mr Reckless if he would stand for the Tories in the next assembly election.

However, he was occupied by the "here-and-now".

Designation for now might be insignificant, but the difference between group and party member will be soon be vital.

If he's not a Conservative in time, and wants to stay involved, he will have to be a Trish Law or a John Marek, the only two assembly members who have won seats standing as independents.

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