The Assembly was a bit quieter this week with the First Minister Carwyn Jones, the lighting rod for the regular discord, away in Qatar celebrating the launch of Wales’ first long haul flights. Nobody, not even the usual suspects, suggested he might be better off staying there.
Alongside the usual Brexit bickering, the most notable debate was perhaps one which led to UKIP Assembly Member Michelle Brown being barred from Assembly proceedings for a week. This resolution occurred on the back of a report from the Assembly’s Standards Committee over the use of a racially offensive term in private conversation that was subsequently leaked by a disgruntled former employee.
Clearly there was no denying the offensive term had been used, but the most interesting aspect of the debate was the contributions of the Two Neils, the least funny double act in the Bay. Both UKIP leader Neil Hamilton and independent AM Neil McEvoy raised concerns about the nature of the way the complaints materialised and then how they were being handled.
The latter even suggested that no Assembly Member should be removed from the business of the Assembly since the decision of the electorate to send them there in the first place was what mattered and should not be over turned outside the ballot box. Perhaps the beleaguered Neil McEvoy might fear he is the next for summary removal, for he is not known for biting his tongue on a range of matters, though is certainly no racist.
This isn’t the first time a UKIP AM has got into trouble for their choice of language. Gareth Bennett fell foul of the Presiding Officer in January for denigrating trans people. He was told he would not be called to speak for a full year until he relented and apologised, which he duly did.
So it seems that what you say both within and without the Assembly Chamber is now a policed matter. Paul Davies, the stern and upright presenter of the censure motion, told AMs their conduct “twenty four seven” was a matter for the reputation and conduct of the Assembly. The other 59 Assembly Members have been warned.