Thursday, 20 December 2012

Bethan Jenkins; What Now?

I was hardly a surprise that suspended Plaid Cymru Welsh assembly member Bethan Jenkins has been banned from driving for 20 months after pleading guilty to drink-driving. Though the extent of the press coverage was perhaps higher than I would have suspect.

The BBC reported
Jenkins, 30, was arrested early on Sunday, 14 October in Cardiff.
She was over twice the drink-drive limit, unsteady, barefoot and wearing pyjama-style bottoms, Cardiff magistrates court heard.
After the hearing she said in a statement that she was deeply sorry and coming to terms with depression.
On this occasion I fell well below the standards I expect of myself and I therefore fully accept the judge's decision in this matter”

It continues
Jenkins had been to a 40th birthday party and had had too much to drink before being stopped by police in Llandaff, the court was told.
She spoke only to confirm her name, address and plea.
She was fighting back tears as Judge Bodfan Jenkins banned her from driving.

What this means for her future is uncertain .

She should expect the Party  whip to be restored though she is on sickness leave at the moment.

He future in the Assembly is perhaps less clear. If she decides to stand for the Regional list for Plaid she may get a sympathetic vote from Plaid members .  But of course the headlines  from the Mule if she gets the number one spot  probably run on the lines

Controversial Plaid candidate gets top spot on party lists and then go on to rake up the Drink Driving story.

If she's not in the top two thew Mule will say

Troubled AM dropped by Plaid and  go on to accuse the Party of not helping her overcome her depression.

My advice to Bethan is to take a break enjoy Christmas, and if she wants to return to the rigmarole of the Assembly next year to do so .. In the meantime I hope she gets the support from her Assembly colleagues to cope with her depression  in the same way they would if she  was suffering from any other illness.

She still has promise and although she has been found Guilty of a serious offence as long as she has learned her lesson we should not hold it against (whilst not condoning it ) her in the same way we would a friend.

It may well be the muted response from opposition politicians and bloggers may well be they all  could well have fallen in the same way.

It is hard to say alcohol related problems  amongst politicians is greater than other professions but is highlighted more and we do expect them to set a example . But none of us are perfect and we should.t punish them any differently.

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