Senedd Bites #60: March through London for a “People’s Vote”

(Title Image: Eventbrite)

Campaigners take part in “People’s Vote” march

On Saturday March 23rd, an estimated 400,000 people took part in a march through central London demanding a second referendum on Brexit. A number of AMs took part, including the Health Minister and International Affairs Minister. Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price, supplied a video address.

Guest speakers criticised the EU withdrawal agreement and accused the Prime Minister of plunging the UK “into chaos”. At the moment, the UK is still heading for a “No Deal” by default on April 12th 2019.

Parties “preparing for European Parliament election”

Political parties in Wales were said to be making preparations to contest a European Parliament election in May if Brexit is delayed to such an extent that the UK will remain an EU member after 22nd May 2019.

Plaid Cymru, the Lib Dems and UKIP were all said by BBC Wales to be “ready” for a poll and have begun to select potential candidates, while no discussions have yet taken place within the Conservatives or Labour.

Another AM leaves UKIP

A fourth member of the UKIP group elected in 2016 or returned since then has left the party.

Michelle Brown AM (Ind, North Wales) joins Caroline Jones, Mandy Jones and Mark Reckless. It resultingly leaves UKIP only one member away from no longer being formally recognised as an official party group in the Senedd, having recently also lost their only Committee chair.

Michelle Brown had been critical of UKIP’s shift to the far-right and its acceptance of convicted fraudster and football hooligan, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka. Tommy Robinson). She also condemned what she considers to be a “sexist boys club” and the party’s re-adopted policy to return Wales to direct-rule from London by abolishing the Assembly.

Places at well-performing schools “should be decided by lottery”

The Sutton Trust has said places at Wales’ top schools should be decided by random ballot in order to improve access for disadvantaged pupils. Research has found that at the best performing schools, less than 10% of pupils receive free school meals and this was partly because better performing schools had more affluent catchment areas.

Faith schools – which manage their own admissions – and Welsh-medium schools also have fewer pupils attending from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Welsh Government said school admissions shouldn’t unfairly disadvantage any particular group.

AM apologises for casual suicide reference

Helen Mary Jones AM (Plaid, Mid & West Wales) apologised for making a casual reference to suicide during a plenary debate. She told Mark Isherwood AM (Con, North Wales) she would, “give him more rope to hang himself with” when he tried to make an intervention. It came just weeks after the Senedd debated a report on suicide by the Health Committee.

The AM apologised, saying that while it was a commonly-used phrase it was “entirely inappropriate”.

Jack Sargeant AM (Lab, Alyn & Deeside) told the Llywydd he “felt sick” after the remark was made and would call it out even if he hadn’t been personally affected by suicide. Mark Isherwood accepted the apology and urged AMs “not to cross the line” into insensitive language in the future.