Americans may have Donald Trump, but Wales has its own “foot-in-the-mouth” politician in Leighton Andrews. The Labour minister sparked controversy when he referred to the Plaid Cymru Party as a “cheap date” during yesterday’s vote on proposed Welsh legislation banning public vaping. The bill was expected to pass with the support of Plaid, but thanks to the unintentionally flippant comment by Andrews, the legislation was shut down by only a single vote.
(Courtesy of www.walesonline.co.uk)
The government’s original plan was to outlaw public vaping anywhere that children might be likely to visit, including all shops, restaurants, movie theaters, and sports arenas. Andrew’s Labour Party holds 30 of the 60 seats in the Welsh Assembly and is in favor of the ban. After nearly five years of political debate, official voting on the bill was to take place yesterday, March 16, 2016. As the date was drawing closer, Labour began courting Plaid in an attempt to swing a last minute vote in their favor.
Everything was going to plan. Plaid agreed to throw some support to the Labour Party, and the public vaping ban was expected to pass. Then Leighton Andrews steps to the podium and makes his provocative comment. That’s all it took for the Plaid Cymru Party to feel instantly belittled and to switch their support to the other side. Presiding Office Dame Rosemary Butler cast the deciding vote that resulted in a 27-26 decision against the proposed ban.
A Plaid spokesman, Minister Simon Thomas, later stated that the Labour Party needed a to learn a “lesson.” Another party official added to the controversy by saying,
“On the very last day of the Assembly, Leighton Andrews has shown a disrespect for parties and individual AMs seeking to create a consensus across political divides…he chose to belittle co-operation and put his own Government’s legislation in jeopardy.”
Meanwhile, the Welsh Democrat Kristy Williams is expressing her annoyance that an entire political party could be so petty as to allow a single off-handed comment result in a complete U-turn on their public stance regarding an issue that “will affect thousands of people.” Even though she voted against the ban, she welcomes the last-minute, “farcical” change of heart.
Just this morning in the aftermath of the voting debacle, UK reporters asked if Andrews wished that he could turn back time and take back the joking jibe. Just as many American politicians do, he seemed to skirt the issue entirely by offering a more general response to the question, “..we are deeply disappointed that the opposition voted against the bill.”
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