Saturday, 29 August 2020

Making the Senedd "Family Friendly" should be a priority.

 It is 2250 and yet  we find the news that5 a Senedd member is stepping down from Cardiff Bay, citing lack of childcare support and the "aggressive" tone of online debate as part of her reasoning.

Plaid Cymru's Bethan Sayed, who represents South Wales West, has said she would not stand at next May's election.

First elected in 2007, Ms Sayed said she will spend more time with her young son but remain a "pro-active activist".

She said there was a "long way to go" before Welsh politics was "family friendly".

Announcing her departure plans, she said it had been a "privilege more than words can properly describe" to represent the region and that she was "immensely proud of all the campaigns and initiatives" she had been involved with.


Ms Sayed, whose son is five months old, said leaving the Senedd was "in part a decision that could have been different if we had a better set up here in Wales" for dealing with childcare responsibilities.

"Perhaps if there had been a job share opportunity - something that's been discussed for several years - I may have felt more able and comfortable juggling my work as a politician and being a new mother," she said.

"Perhaps if parties had worked to increase the size of the Senedd in time for the next term, so that the ever increasing workloads could have been better shared, my decision may have been different."

 "Many people wish to believe that Welsh politics is family friendly," she added. "I don't think it is yet, sadly, there is still a long way to go."

 Ms Sayed also highlighted what she called the "often relentlessly negative nature of our politics today".

"While there is plenty to be angry and concerned about in politics, there are ways to effect change and talk to each other without the charged, aggressive and often mean spirited tone, too many take as a first step - particularly online," she said.

"With politics and debate overwhelmingly featured in online spaces, we have to try to find common ground where we can, and change the tone of debate."

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said Ms Sayed had "stood out as a tireless campaigner in her region and beyond, fighting on behalf of the workers of Ford, Visteon and Tata Steel".

He praised her work chairing the Senedd's Culture, Welsh Language and Communications committee and more recently promoting "the pioneering idea of introducing locums to cover Senedd members' maternity leave".

"On behalf of Plaid Cymru I would like to thank Bethan for her contribution to Welsh public life and from the Plaid Cymru family to her and her family, I send Bethan our warmest wishes" he said.

Many of us  do not realise the hours of work our elected members  put in on our behalf. and does not just consist in siting in the siambr taking part in debates.

It is not a 9-5 job and for those who take their role seriously it involve much unread constituency work an in Bethan's case this include fightin for the pension of workers at Tata steel  perhaps reflected with her vote in the Aberavon Constituency in the 2016 Senedd Election in what is can be considered a Labour safe seat.


Welsh Assembly Election 2016: Aberavon[1]
LabourDavid Rees10,57850.7−13.4
Plaid CymruBethan Jenkins4,17620.0+5.2
UKIPGlenda Davies3,11915.0+15.0
ConservativeDavid Jenkins1,3426.4−7.9
Liberal DemocratsHelen Ceri Clarke1,2486.0−0.8
GreenJonathan Tier3891.9+1.9
Labour holdSwing−9.3

The sad thing is that things are not going to change , though increasing the number of Senedd Members would help.

Not a popular suggestion I know , but it could ease the burden on MS's sitting in to many committees and enabling them to deal with their casework, probably the most unsung and time consuming part of the Job.

There may be  Senedd members who do not work as hard as Bethan Sayed has , but for many even for those with comfortable majorities , they take their role seriously.

For those with young families male or female , there is an additional burden , the fact that it has become too much for one of our ablest and brightest  MS's is telling.

Sadly I doubt things will change but unless they do we will continue to be governed by Grey Men, who have no idea how ordinary people cope and denying an alternative and talented representation (mostly women) , who have to put childcare first 


1 comment:

dafis said...

Bethan makes a fair point about the "family friendly" deficit that prevails at Y Senedd. However in complaining about the abusive toxic nature of politics, particularly the online aspect she engages in something that smacks of pot calling kettle black. Maybe taking time out she may reflect on her own shortcomings in that aspect of behaviour and upon her return in due course will be a better all rounder.