Abolish the Assembly’s clown show is comedy gold – but don’t let them turn the Senedd into a circus

The Senedd in Cardiff. Picture by Ifan Morgan Jones.

Gareth Ceidiog Hughes

You just have to laugh, don’t you?

Well, you don’t have to – but you might as well, because let’s face it, the Abolish the Welsh Assembly clown show is objectively hilarious.

Don’t get me wrong, I would very much prefer that the forces dedicated to the destruction of Welsh democracy did not exist. But seeing as they are here for the moment anyway, at least we have the consolation of them being utterly inept and very very funny.

The latest farce involves them setting up two rival parties, that perhaps could be better described as sects, and then proceeding to kick lumps out of each other. Although one was too many, there are now competing groups vying to register themselves as Abolish the Welsh Assembly with the Electoral Commission.

Former leader of Abolish the Welsh Assembly David Bevan set up the rival group after having somewhat of an unedifying ding dong with the dear leaders of the current party.

According to a spokesperson for the original Abolish, or the Artists Formerly Known as Abolish, whatever you want to call them, Bevan was removed as a board member and nominating officer for being “ineffectual, non-progressive and quasi-useless”. No, I’m not entirely sure what quasi-useless means either, but it doesn’t sound too complimentary.

Unfortunately for them, they needed him to sign the Electoral Commission’s annual return to keep the party registered, and well, apparently, in an act of bureaucratic trench warfare, he refused to do so unless he was reinstated. Oh dear.

But rather than let Bevan back in, the leaders of Abolish originals decided to let its registration with the Electoral Commission lapse and then apply to register the party again, albeit this time without their former comrade.

This means there is currently no party called Abolish the Welsh Assembly registered with the Electoral Commission. If only it could stay that way forever.

 

Wrong

Anyway, with the lapse in registration, Bevan saw a chance for vengeance, that he ruthlessly exploited. He launched an audacious bid to register a party called, what else, Abolish the Welsh Assembly, in an extraordinary attempt at political gazumping.

This has caused a little bit of upset in the rival camp, and it let it to label Bevan a “traitor to Wales and the Union”. If you look closely, you can pinpoint the exact moment in which irony moved on to a better place. May god have mercy on its soul.

Of course, there isn’t even an assembly to abolish anymore. The institution’s name has been changed to Welsh Parliament in English and Senedd in Welsh. They insist on calling it an assembly as a means of trying to diminish its newfound status. Unfortunately for them, all they have succeeded in doing is debasing themselves.

According to recent polling, Abolish was on course to win a handful of seats in the Senedd election. But the margins are slim, and there are a number of parties vying for a slice of the populist vote. This registration debacle will not help them in their endeavour.

Political parties need to officially register before February 2021 in order to be able to field candidates for the Senedd election. The clock is very much ticking. Tick tock.

The new Abolish the Assembly Party has also put the incorrect Welsh language name on its application. It put Diddymu’r Parti Cynulliard. For future reference guys, it’s Cynulliad. Oh, and the words are in the wrong order too. Welsh words have been shoehorned inelegantly into an English grammatical format. It’s like saying you want to register the Me No Like Wales Party. Just trying to be helpful.

Safe

I have been wary of underestimating the threat of those who want to destroy Welsh democracy, but this saga really does make it difficult to take these guys seriously.

I mean if they find it difficult to register their party, how on earth are they going to organise the overthrow of our democratic institutions? It seems an unlikely prospect at the moment.

This ineptitude should not be surprising. The party includes former UKIP politician Gareth Bennett, who splurged thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on an office he didn’t use.

That does not mean we can be complacent, however. The overthrow of Welsh democracy is a real threat. But the threat comes from the UK Government, which has the power to abolish our democracy with a simple parliamentary majority whenever it pleases.

It has already demonstrated it is prepared attack Welsh democracy and steal the powers of the Senedd with its Internal Market Bill. Sure, the UK Government is ludicrously incompetent, but it hasn’t quite reached the Abolish level quite yet.

Welsh democracy is far from secure and needs to be fought for. But if recent events are anything to go by, Wales is relatively safe from the Abolish clown show.

Unfortunately, under the proportional representation system, that may not stop one or two members sneaking in and turning the Senedd into a circus for a few years after next May’s election.

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