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 door—all other parties are following in your footsteps—I 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.
14.50 – Comment from Kirsty Williams AM and Mike German AM released: