I was horrified tonight when it was suggested to me that I might be 'wobbling' about the way I intend to vote on an amendment to the Public Bodies Bill next Thursday morning. I've been considering carefully, but I do not do 'wobbling'. I'm still having serious trouble with my spine, but I've always prided myself on 'backbone'. I was offended to hear it suggested. If I ever decide to vote against my Government, the first to know will be the whips and the relevant ministers.
At issue is whether S4C should remain a part of Schedule 3 of the Public Bodies Bill. To some of you this will be double dutch - but what it amounts to is whether the UK Government (while S4C remains non devolved) should have any overall influence over the governance arrangements of the Welsh Language TV channel, S4C. Since I do believe that as far as possible, S4C should be operationally and editorially 'independent', I have had to think carefully about this issue - particularly since one of the Government MPs on the Committee examining the Bill has made clear that he is voting with the opposition. This means that the Government majority is reduced from 3 to just 1 - and because its known that the Welsh Language is hugely important to me, I have become something of a campaigner's target. In general, I believe in politicians being accountable, and in the end, I really cannot accept that even S4C should be totally without democratic accountability. I also think (and this is a touch provocative perhaps) that some of the poor governance we've seen over the last few years has been because there was so little external 'governance'.
I have received a huge amount of correspondence over this issue. Its been a good well organised campaign. Forced me to think through my position on it very thoroughly. But having decided where I stand on the issue, I'm feeling relaxed and certain in my stance - which is not to say that I will not be asking Ministers for some firm assurances on Thursday morning. Quite looking forwards to standing up without a 'wobble' in sight.