Thursday, July 07, 2011

When you’re in a hole stop digging

Someone should surely remind the Electoral Commission in Wales of that.  They have got themselves in deep enough, they really ought to just show some grace and shut up now.
There was a huge sigh of relief yesterday when Welsh Liberal Democrat AM Aled Roberts had his disqualification overturned at the Assembly – albeit tinged with regret over the situation as a whole and the loss of John Dixon.
However, anyone right thinking person who read the report produced at the request of the Presiding Officer would surely come to the conclusion that justice has been seen to be done in Aled’s case.
The Electoral Commission have messed up big time here, and instead of putting their hands in the air and just admitting they made an error they are making themselves appear even more incompetent.
Following the publication of the Gerard Elias report the Commission issued a statement it said that
It is important that all guidance published by the Electoral Commission is accurate and trusted and as today’s report identifies there were mistakes made by the Commission in the issuing of our guidance for the May 2011 election.”

Once the Commission became aware of the change to the Order, the relevant English language guidance for candidates “Can you stand for election?” was updated on our website on 11 March”

“However, the Welsh language version of the guidance for candidates was not updated ahead of the election. We regret and apologise for this very rare error.” 

They should have left it at that.  Instead they decided after the vote was taken to start making waves.


As reported by the BBC,
“following the vote to lift the disqualification, the Commission says statistics suggest nobody visited the website although it also said its data-collecting methods were not wholly reliable.
Spokesman Rhydian Thomas told BBC Wales's CF99 programme on S4C: "Now this is not some kind of forensic analysis, it is possible that someone looked at it and it didn't register."
Mr Thomas said the Commission had gathered statistics on how many hits the document received in Welsh and English. He added:
 "The English version, to give an example, received around 143 hits. But the Welsh version, from what we see, not one person looked at the document or downloaded the document

So if their statistisc are not reliable, why bring it up?  Why tell Mr Elias one thing and then dispute it afterwards?
But the plot thickens,  As reported by Betsan Powys the Electoral Commission then release another statement which said

"The commission apologised on Thursday to the Welsh Assembly and Aled Roberts for the mistakes we made. We fully accept the conclusions of Mr Elias' report and have nothing to add to the statement we have already made.
"On the television programme CF99 last night, the commission gave information about usage of its Welsh language website in response to a specific question from a journalist about visits to our website.
"We provided the website statistics, along with an explanation about them, to Gerard Elias as part of his investigation. As we made clear to Mr Elias we do not believe they are a reliable guide to whether or not individuals used our website and this is reflected in the conclusions in his report."
Unbelievable – are the people there actually communicating with each other at all?  It would seem the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.
It has resulted in yet more unnecessary anxiety for Aled and his family, and allowed people’s opinions of this body to slip even further.  BBC headlines today report
The elections watchdog has been criticised for its handling of the case of a disqualified Welsh assembly member.”
The Electoral Commission describe themselves as
“an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Our aim is integrity and public confidence in the democratic process.”
There will not be much public confidence left in the process unless this whole issue is addressed.
Will somebody please take the shovels away.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another 2 lib dems shouldn't have stood?, whats their excuse, the japanese version hadn't been updated?

Its an admin error on behalf of the lib dems, doesn't say much for the staff there

Anonymous said...

Another 2 lib dems shouldn't have stood?, whats their excuse, the japanese version hadn't been updated?

Its an admin error on behalf of the lib dems, doesn't say much for the staff there

Karen Roberts said...

So good you had to say it twice eh?

The Welsh Liberal democrat staff are a professional outfit. A mistake was made. We are human, unlike some politicians who seem not to know the meaning of the word.