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Margaret Thatcher

The ghost of Thatcher brings Assembly debating chamber to life

Margaret Thatcher 57%

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Jan 14 2009 by David Williamson, Western Mail 

AMs crowded into the Senedd’s debating chamber for the first session of the new year. But, writes David Williamson, any festive spirit seemed to have evaporated by the time they took their seats

ASSEMBLY Members pride themselves on the sharp contrast with Westminster’s tradition of theatrical booing and other Oxford Union antics.

A progressive politician might want to scrap the jeering and mace-whirling for which the House of Commons enjoys worldwide fame, but there must be a better alternative than recreating the atmosphere of a call centre on a dull Tuesday afternoon.

Perhaps it was the dazzling brightness of First Minister Rhodri Morgan’s scarlet tie, but while he batted away questions from rival party leaders most AMs kept their heads down and squinted at their computer screens.

AMs hammered at keyboards and engaged in furtive conversation while the prospect of economic calamity, the need for a living wage and the role of a Welsh language commissioner were mulled over.

The irony is that beneath the grey surface, this duck – one-legged or otherwise – is alive and kicking.

The Liberal Democrats have just elected their first female leader, the Conservatives have been in internal convulsions for weeks, and 2009 is a year which may feature events as seismic as a Labour election for the top job and the report of the All-Wales Convention on law-making powers.

There was so much to talk about, but – maddeningly – so much that cannot be talked about.

Potential candidates for the Labour leadership have yet to be declared, and instead communicate their intentions through the projection of symbols in performances so intricate the Kirov Ballet would be impressed.

But there is one moment at each session when the chamber shakes with noise and passion. It is when the ghost of Margaret Thatcher wafts through.

Tory AM Alun Cairns lambasted Mr Morgan’s record on the economy, saying: “The figures are just so bad there’s no way the First Minister can grasp at any straw and provide a positive spin.”

Mr Morgan retorted: “If that’s a failure, what was it like when the Tores were in?”

The simple allusion was enough. The chamber pulsed with life as memories of battles past burned in bellies.

 

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2009/01/14/the-ghost-of-thatcher-brings-assembly-debating-chamber-to-life-91466-22687544/


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