Leeks from the Back Benches
A near casualty who came back to fight another day was John Marek, the former MP who snatched the plum job of Deputy Presiding Officer from the Labour choice of candidate; Rosemary Butler. He won the post by a single vote and for his pains, became the victim of his party who turned against him, preferring his former secretary to stand in his Wrexham constituncy. She lost. John won. A solid victory for justice.Leeks from the Back Benches (245) This book also gives a clear insight into how a Police Authority operates and how that body charged with the task of ensuring that North Wales Police force was both effective and efficient, saw off its own Head of Legal Services in a shocking manner. She was suspended for almost two years and her Police Authority was obliged to settle with her in August 2002. It all started in early 1999, when she had been sent a damning memo by a very senior officer, which took most of her job away from her. Her sin? She sent the Police Authority an important report, failing to realise that the usual chief officers’ ‘red pen treatment’ had not been applied to a report on how civil actions against the force had been resolved. What the chiefs were doing, unbeknown to the Authority, was that all areas of potential risk that would allow me and Police Authority colleagues to ask questions, were being regularly removed to sanitise the documents we had requested. Furious to have been seemingly compromised, the technical constructive dismissal memo was launched. After that, her career was all but over and it would have been wiser for her to have accepted this fact in 1999 rather than trying to soldier on. This unhappy and expensive saga is told fully; all apart from the size of the settlement. That has never been revealed. The main thrust of the book covers my work as a backbench AM and part of the ruling Labour government. How I was accepted by some AM’s and not by others, what discussions and decisions took place behind the closed door of weekly Labour Group meetings, particularly when momentous events were taking place; have been meticulously recorded. How the Group responded to Ron Davies various problems in woodlands has been chronicled and how Labour AM’s loathed the Lib-Lab pact but for party cohesiveness, mostly they sat on their hands. How the Group was so against the warmongering of our own Prime Minister is also revealed but again no one dared to challenge those at the other end of the M 4 and stuck loyally to their Party line in the face of a hostile public. The antics of some of my former Labour colleagues, particularly the Labour Chief Whip who reserved favours for her cronies and not for me has all been chronicled. I am not sure that Alun Michael had really meant to resign. I’ve made my view clear on what I thought had happened but of course, we will never know as I doubt that Alun will be telling! I doubt that he will be telling his version of the affair of the fax to his office when he was Secretary of State for Wales which was instrumental in the disposal of the valuable Mid Wales Hospital! I doubt that we will ever know what where the full and real discussions between him and the then Lord Mayor, Labour crony, Russell Goodway when it became necessary for the Assemlby to take over the winding up or should it be down of the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation affairs. The Harbour Authority came about as a result of discussions between Cardiff Council and the Assembly as to how this new found responsibly for the Bay should be handled. How much actually went into improvements in Penarth, the constituncy of two well-placed AMs will also probably never be known either. Perhaps I’m just jealous that North and other parts of Wales did not fare so well as Cardiff. Who called for champagne when Alun was ousted and who went for a celebratory dinner is there for the reading. I was suspended for failing to obey the whip when we were instructed to vote for the Wales Millennium Centre. I was not against Cardiff bettering itself, I had been a film supporter of the building we find out selves in today but I had heard that the funding was not at all proven when I was a member of my various committees and I just knew that the business plan would not work without huge injections of public money. I got that forecast right! The original theme of the book was to be one of scrutiny of how the Assembly spent its budget. It is sad that the Auditor General, who features so promentely as the years unfold, has fallen from the high pinnacle in which I held him whilst he was auditing the Assembly and its various Bodies’ accounts. Sir John Bourne is just one of the many players that feature in this book, some in a far better light than others. How the Crown Prosecution Service chose not to prosecute John Prescott despite his very public rumble in Rhyl yet chose to prosecute me on the word of a bullying and hefty taxi driver is all revealed, including his picture to make my point! It had never been my intention to be the fly on the wall. I had never planned to write a book. I had just formed the habit of keeping a diary during my stressful period as a senior police officer when it was becoming apparent that my career was going to hit the buffers. That diary was useful and also the writing of it, usually late into the night; was therapeutic and helped me to deal with the frustration of my situation. Diary keeping was automatic by the time I moved into politics and as the hours were long and the job of an AM quite challenging too, the therapeutic diary as an AM became part of my routine. The book will puncture a few egos and I imagine will start a few discussions over possible legal redress but I have worked very hard to try and be accurate, fair and stick to my diary accounts, hundreds of documents, newspaper records and committee papers. It is the first account of those challenging and exciting first four years I was delighted to have been given the opportunity of writing it and also the privilege of serving as an AM and meeting so many fabulous and decent minded people along with a few rogues.