I've never met Labour Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, Joyce Watson. I suppose she took my spot in the Assembly as a result of last May's election. So far, she has not made much impact - but she has today. She's been all over the media as a result of her being referred to the Assembly Standards Committee for using Assembly stationary and postage to send 2,000 self-promoting leaflets to her constituents. This is against the rules, and it looks to me that she is guilty as charged. The 'Tower' beckons.
But what is odd about this is that if she did this as an MP, there would have been no problem. She would have been perfectly in order to spend £10,000 every year sending out such leaflets - using her 'Communications Allowance'. On my desk today is a glossy leaflet from my local MP informing me of all the meetings he has held over the last year - paid for by the taxpayer. And its not the first time. In my opinion, it is scandalous - and the most scandalous aspect of this is that it is entirely within the rules. (Montgomeryshire people will be interested to see Cllr. Graham Brown of Llandrinio, leading light in the 'Montgomeryshire Independent Group' featuring so prominently on a Lib Dem leaflet. Perhaps he's defecting to the Lib Dems).
I suppose that the Standards Committee should demand that Joyce Watson should repay the money because it looks an 'open and shut case. But I can understand why she would feel sore about this. Why on earth is it (rightly) improper for Assembly Members to distribute unsolicited mail at the taxpayer's expence, while MPs can carry on doing the same thing regardless. This blog demands yet again that MP's Communications Allowance be banned.