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Breaking news from the Bay

Heavy rumours of a defection to the Tories this morning.

More news when we have it, but all we can confirm at this stage is that it is not from us.

UPDATE: According to Politics Cymru, it’s Mohammed Ashgar AM from Plaid Cymru, which is what we had also been hearing…

CONFIRMED: Tom Bodden “Mohammad Ashgar SE Wales AM stuns Plaid Cymru by announcing defection to the Conservatives in Welsh Assembly. ‘Supports UK and Royal Family”

First crossing of the floor in the history of the Assembly, and the story broken first by Freedom Central!

The Tory press release is now on Wales Home, confirming that he is joined by his daughter Natasha, a former Plaid candidate.

From the Record of Proceedings – 11/07/07

Mohammad Asghar: First, I give my heartiest congratulations to Ieuan. Two groups wanted to make him the king of the Chamber and one group wanted to make him the crown prince; for the sake of the country, he accepted crown prince and, on that, I congratulate him. I am sure that Rhodri is watching in his hospital bed, paying £3 an hour to watch this programme. [Laughter.]

Mohammad Asghar: Improving the country’s economic condition is a subject close to my heart and I know that it is close to yours also. Not only will prosperity come with that improvement, but if you bring in inward investment from abroad and the other side of the channel, there will be great blessings and achievements during your time in office. Also, if you have any plans to reduce the level of council tax or business rates paid by big companies so that they come over and invest in Wales, such plans would certainly create more investment and more employment in areas such as south-east Wales, where I come from. Once again, on behalf of the ethnic minorities, to whom you opened the doorall other parties are following in your footstepsI congratulate you and wish you the best of luck for the future.

The Deputy First Minister: On a personal level, one of my proudest moments as the leader of Plaid was when I heard about the election of Mohammad Asghar to the National Assembly. It is something that I felt that the National Assembly lacked, in not having a Member from an ethnic minority and I will never forget the feeling of immense pride that I experienced when you were elected. It was a great day for Wales when that happened.

 So does Mohammed Ashgar still believe that all other parties are “following in” Plaid’s footsteps?

And if his election was Ieuan Wyn’s proudest day, is today his most shameful?

12.18 and the first comment from a Plaid blogger, and actually a fairly well and balanced comment from Guerilla Welsh-Fare, even if calling one of your own politicians “Wales’ most effective and empowering politician” is like walking around telling everyone your hat is the best hat, and by quite a way. Actually it’s not like that at all, but it’s still pretty over the top.

12.27 – Plaid Cymru call for Mohammed Ashgar to resign, claiming he has no ‘political mandate’. Good luck with that one. Full press release once again on Wales Home.

12.37 – Commenters on Guerilla Welsh Fare claim that Mohammed Ashgar did not even tell his own staff about his defection. My guess would be that it was under strict instructions from the Tories to prevent the story being leaked. Once again the Tories screw hard working people, even if it is only on an indivdual basis of them this time.

14.35 – Plaid’s website still not updated…..

14.50 – Comment from Kirsty Williams AM and Mike German AM released:

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:  
“On reflection, this move should surprise nobody. Mohammad Ashgar spent years towing the line on behalf of Plaid ministers. That’s a thankless task, especially if you disagree with Plaid Cymru’s stated goal of full independence for Wales. It really is difficult to understand why Mohammad Ashgar ever joined Plaid Cymru, given his stated love, today, of Union and Queen.”
“This defection will certainly weaken the coalition government but does little to help the Welsh Conservatives. Nick Bourne will now have to satisfy his party members that no deal has been done with Mohammad Ashgar that might override Tory party selection policy.”  
Michael German AM added that pressure had been mounting for some months and that the former Plaid AM ‘jumped before he was pushed’: “It’s been an open secret that current Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price is looking to get elected to the Assembly and the South East Wales List was one place that was an option for him. Clearly there’s not enough space for everyone and Mohammad would have known that his chances of being reselected were next to zero had Adam Price decided to go for selection here.” 
15.57 – Gossip from an unverifiable source (for which read this may be complete rubbish), Plaid are looking into putting forward a legal challenge for the South Wales East seat.

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3 Responses

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  1. che says

    I think it is a fair statement actually. I wouldn’t say it about anyone as I genuinely think that of Adam Price. Commentators here think it of Kirsty so maybe we are all blinkered to our own!

    As for the staff issue. I am sure it was embargoed from the Tories. I don’t know the details myself but if the person that left that comment on my blog is correct then I can’t see why at the very least Oscar could not have told them 5 minutes before hand?

  2. Matt O'Grady says

    Che, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t agree and that we aren’t all blinkered to some degree, but Plaid bloggers do have a habit of being slightly over the top in their praise. Remember when Ieuan was hailed as the saviour of the Welsh economy despite unemployment increasing?

    Anyway, the is an arguement for another day.

    I do agree that the way he has treated his staff is disgraceful. Have any of them commented on this? Are any going with him or are they resigning? Aside from his daughter of course…

  3. cyclefixer says

    It would have great if Mohammed decided to join the liberals, a party in desperate need of some diversity away from white, middle class