More AMs? Time to bite the ballot

Mat Mathias gives his own unique take on the call for more Assembly Members

If there was a large list of things the Welsh public wanted, you could argue that ‘more politicians’ would be on there just after stubbing your toe, losing your keys, getting scurvy or Katy Hopkins coming around your house to watch the newest episode of Walking Dead with you, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.

Anyway, I am not talking about ‘all’ politicians I am talking about Assembly Members or Members of the Welsh parliament, Welsh Parliament members, Crach (geddit?) pot decision makers, or whatever their names will be in the future or now in a minute.

In the late 90s, it was decided by ‘the man’ that a Welsh Assembly would be able to function with 60 members, Scotland had 129, more than double while it seemed like Stormont was so big that every single person that lived in Northern Ireland had become an elected member. I exaggerate, it was 108 but now it’s down to a paltry 90 even though a million or so more people live here.

Because of the particular challenges that Northern Ireland presents, ‘the man’ decided that rather than pick an arbitrary number, they selected the one that was needed to do the job. It’s a radical thought when we all know that in all levels of work you look at the task at hand, find out how many you really need to do the job properly and then half it, so everything is a struggle and shit.

So maybe it’s time to be radical and look at how many AMs are needed to get the work done and done well.

Theresa May talked about Jams when she first became PM. It wasn’t a premonition of what she would be making as a retirement hobby before the next election, she was talking about ‘just about managing’. None of us thought she was talking about the Assembly.

But that’s what they are. Just about managing. There needs to be an increase.

I can hear somebody from the back shouting…

‘Forget about more AMs we could have more hospitals with the money.’

We won’t though. Every time there is an expense that people don’t like they go back to how many hospitals could be built with that money. Its bollocks but ok let’s look at the cost.

Excuse my Maths, while I am not up there with Phil Hammond, a man so miserable he avoids looking at himself in the mirror in the morning in case it makes him go back to bed for a month, I am also thirty-angle point forest gateau million per cent better at it than Dianne Abbot.

Last time I looked (half hour ago) the cost of each Assembly Member comes to about £257,800. According to the only figures I could find that were applicable from about 3 or 4 years ago, is that each of our MEPs cost about £1.79 million. So, once we have left the whore of Moab that is the EU that money could in theory come back to us which is the equivalent of about 27 more AMs or having an event with catering and wine at two events at the Senedd.

The Assembly has changed since 1999. The fact is that they have more to do and also, slowly and surely they have been accepted into the hearts of more and more of the nation. For most, being accepted into the heart means cwtches, invites for Sunday dinner and maybe a picture on the mantelpiece but in this case it means a shed load more constituency work and more powerful Ministers to hold to account.

People don’t automatically go to their MP anymore, good AMs and there are a lot out there now, are victims of their own success. They are constantly out and about in their manors doing good deeds and people see that, because of our system of PR they have a choice or they have more people to represent their issues. Could it be and one such as I couldn’t possibly say, that maybe the ones who think there shouldn’t be any more AMs simply aren’t much good…

What about Brexit?

At the moment, everything seems to be going swimmingly and I can only see good things happening said nobody but Liam Fox who still thinks the moon is made out of cheese as he watches it from his flat earth. Hands up if you think that Brexit, even if it is a success, will mean more work? Or less work?

Come on even the most stubborn of you out there must admit that it’s going to mean more work. We are taking power back so who the hell is going to deal with it.

We have already had a load of powers transferred down to us and next year we will have tax-raising powers. Remind me again how the over stretched AMs will manage because contrary to loads of moaners who think that politics is half an hour in a chamber every week, most AMs work over 70 hours a week. No matter how good they are, an increase in workload means that something is going to be missed. That means scrutinising laws that are to be passed that has a direct impact on my life. I bloody love my life so I want them to get it right. Right?

I know people are upset with the political system and politicians but as I have written many times before, they are not all the same – and we do a grave injustice to the brilliant ones when we say they are. So, it’s time to bite the ballot (I’m sorry, i’ve wanted to use that pun for years) and accept that we need a bolder, bigger, better Senedd. Let’s get it done – and then the decision to see if they are good enough is up to you, the electorate.

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Mat Mathias, after a small break found himself back in the bubble. These are his views and not of his employer or someone he met down the pub last week, honest.

6 thoughts on “More AMs? Time to bite the ballot

  1. Think if the bubble gets its way and they do get more it will damage what is still a fledgling body. I couldn’t support an expansion. Many other ways of working we need. How about separating out government form the legislature. An extra 12 AMs I’d go for. We also need less local authorities and replaced with smaller regional bodies that are full time. Arguably it’s at that level that I want good people making decisions about my life and currently we have part time folk doing that on issues such as education, social care etc.

  2. The key is “we need a bolder, bigger, better Senedd” – it is into the approach, mentality, confidence, vision with which we do things that we need to put the effort – the rest will follow (constitutional issues, legal fixes, etc. etc.). More members are needed at the same time as the need for them becomes glaringly obvious.

    As it happens, we have an issue that illustrates this unwinding before us as we speak. The need for a ‘bolder, bigger, better’ response to leaving the EU. (Arguments about the SuperOpinionPoll (aka the referendum) are irrelevant). It is not, at the moment, a question of ‘in’ or ‘out’ but of ‘as what’, and the attitude of Westminster to the fully independent Republic, and semi independent Scotland means that we are being taken completely for granted – because we allow them to.

    The Senedd is not the ‘county council on stilts’ that some feared, but its gradualist evolution is too slow. Wales would never have had the EU referendum in the form it happened, had it been a Senedd decision, we had way too much to lose. What if Westminster had had a duty to consult first and act afterwards – we would have said ‘no’, surely?

    That is the sort of Independence that all Welsh politicians can sign up to, is it not?

  3. We could reduce the number of MPs we send to Mess-Minster to a more reasonable level, and we say one or two MPs and use the money saved to pay for the extra AMs, a win – win situation

  4. I re-engaged with active politics in the wake of the expenses scandal, as I became increasingly fed up listening to people moaning at the bar about it and doing nothing more. My experience as an activist, working fairly closely with an AM, convinces me that they are JAM their work-load. Given the increased level of responsibility that they will have, through increased devolved powers and blow-back from Brexit, the case for an increase in numbers is made.

    In rough terms the population of Wales is two thirds that of Scotland. Scotland has 129 MSPs, so 90 AMs for Wales isn’t far off the mark. Interestingly, Scotland has 32 local authorities, so 22 for Wales is about right on that comparison. That is not to say that we and the Scots shouldn’t keep these figures under review, but it’s reasonable to assume that a decrease in local councils will in some shape or form lead to more work for our JAM AMs. The constituency boundary proposals might address Philip Hughes’s point but not in this parliament.

    Those are the quantitative arguments. Huw Meredydd makes a valuable point about the quality. There is a dearth of leadership and vision from the current crop. Perhaps it’s a Labour thing but it all feels so ‘managerial.’ Where’s the passion? At the moment it seems the only person “Who will speak for Wales” is Michael Sheen. Part of the problem is of course the weakness of the local media. How many people beyond the cognoscenti are aware of/have seen the Youtube video of his Raymond Williams Memorial Lecture ( Here we have a popular figure who can capture the imagination and somebody needs to sign him up.

    As for the people offering the more hospitals argument, they need to get down and dirty on the doorstep and campaign for it, otherwise close the bar door behind them.

  5. I have a much better idea. Let’s rid ourselves of a very expensive and inefffective body of adminstration (talking shop) and streamline our democracy so that we (those of us who live in the UNITED KINGDOM) can have a national government seeing to national issues like the health service, defence and education and local government dealing with local issues like planning permission and the law.

  6. J. A. Harrington

    While many will agree with you that Mess-Minster is just a money wasting talking shop it is the English Parliament

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