Question Time

Daran Hill

You know who I feel most sorry for in Welsh politics? The guy in the Senedd on £45,000 a year whose full time role is rejigging the seating plan for a room hardly anyone uses anymore. He never gets to put his expensive loafers up for long.

So Mark Reckless is off again. The man with more new homes than Dr David Banner is moving house again.

So how does this latest defection make you feel?

Were you furious when Mark Reckless left UKIP to join the Welsh Conservatives?

Were you incandescent when Mark then moved from the Tories to the Brexit Party?

Are you spitting blood and venom today now that he has pitched his flag on the grumbly male charabanc of Abolition?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then it’s likely your feelings about all three of them will be the same. You will really, really not like the idea of Members of the Senedd being allowed to change parties.

So let’s try another question, aimed just at those who are frothing at the mouth.

Would you have actually voted for Mark Reckless in any of the iterations he had presented since 2016?

What about UKIP Mark – or Mark Mark One – bedecked in purple and bestriding the stallion of victory in the 2016 referendum in Wales?

Or how about Mark Mark Two, in sensible Tory suit and blue tie, standing at the back of a big group shot but being slightly distanced from the rest of the gang?

Or Mark Mark Three, his blue tie paler, and his sword of truth and justice wet with the triumphal blood of the 2019 Euro Elections in Wales?

Or the Guido Fawkes version, Mark Mark Four, complete with Spanish moustache, powder kegs and a box of matches to burn the ‘Assembly’ to the ground?

My guess is that if you are really, really outraged at Mark Reckless then you are really, really never likely to have voted for him in any of his outfits, now matter how snazzy.

Mark will have probably not lost your vote today compared to his jump to the Tories or his romance with the Brexit Party.

But let me ask another question of those perpetually outraged: are you a Member of the Senedd that Mark now wants to abolish?

And if you are, then this brief column is aimed at you. Because I have further questions.

Firstly, can you not see that Mark Reckless has been pushed further and further into the arms of Abolish by the very culture prevalent in the Senedd?

Can you not recognise that someone has been on a journey not because he did not like the Senedd when he glimpsed it from afar, but because he did not like what he saw when he got up close?

And every year that went by he became less and less comfortable with a culture where there are now goodies and baddies?

Are you really comfortable with the development of an institution where some Members of the Senedd – not just confined to the unMagnificent Seven first elected for UKIP in 2016 – are now basically denied the rights and privileges most Members enjoy by default?

And one final set of questions to all those Members of the Senedd who are absolutely fecking livid right now. Why didn’t you actually try and change the system to prevent MSs moving between party when you had the chance?

You must remember. It’s when you debated that glorious Bill to change the Senedd’s name and you had to sit into the night and bring in thermos flasks of Bovril and dairylea sandwiches to sustain you through hours of heated debate into the wee small hours, because the name on the door was the most pressing issue you were facing that term and you had to apply your focus and your stamina to dealing with that critical issue of democracy.

You’ll also recall – if any one of you are still reading – that in the rest of the rag bag Bill that you changed the franchise ever so slightly and tinkered around with some other stuff.

But none of you – absolutely none of you – tried to change the rules to stop Members of the Senedd switching parties.

So let me pose a final question: what the actual feck are you going to do about it now – just jaw off in indignation on Twitter, or actually prevent it from happening again?

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