The first decade of devolution in Wales has had it all. Since the narrow vote for the National Assembly there have been leadership battles, coalition governments, tabloid revelations, continuing shock election results, controversy over the Senedd building, party manoeuvring, and tension with Westminster
So why did 6 out of 10 Welsh voters not know which parties form the Welsh Assembly Government? Why was Rhodri Morgan, the long-serving First Minister, recognised by less than half, other party leaders by less than 10%? In addition to voter disengagement, why did the lawmaking system seem not to be fully understood even by constitutional lawyers?
Poor Man's Parliament explores why the hopes of 1999 too often failed to materialise. What happened to the desire for `the brightest and best' AMs? Why has the National Assembly yet to capture the nation's imagination? And what happened to the legislative programme? Its themes emerge through a chronological narrative of key events. They include the rise and fall of first leader Alun Michael, Treasury obstinacy over crucial match funding for Objective One, an obsession with party unity at the expense of the national interest, a flawed and limited lawmaking process, and all the issues of making an entirely new form of government work
Here is the Assembly from its beginning in 1999 to Rhodri Morgan's retirement as First Minister. Martin Shipton, veteran Chief Reporter at the Western Mail, is an invaluable, and sometimes dismayed, guide through a crucial period of Welsh political history