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No job for Welsh MP in Lib Dem team

The Welsh Liberal Democrats' only MP has been left out of the team of 22 party spokespersons appointed by the new Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron. With only eight MPs at Westminster, Mr Farron has given jobs to all his colleagues in the Commons apart Ceredigion MP Mark Williams and former party leader Nick Clegg.

The Lib Dems' spokesperson on Wales will be the party's Welsh leader, Kirsty Williams AM. She's one of several appointments from outside the Houses of Parliament but one Welsh Lib Dem peer has been given a job. The former Wales Office Minister Baroness Randerson will speak on transport.

Dafydd Elis Thomas backed by Plaid constituency party

Members of Plaid Cymru's constituency party in Dwyfor Meirionnydd tonight backed Dafydd Elis Thomas as their candidate in next year's assembly election.

The situation was discussed in a special meeting of senior Plaid officials and constituency members. Credit: ITV News

A meeting in Porthmadog heard from two senior Plaid officials about why the former party leader faces disciplinary action for criticising the present leader Leanne Wood.

A final decision on whether he remains a Plaid Cymru candidate will be taken by the party's national executive.

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  1. Nick Powell

Crunch meeting for Dafydd Elis Thomas

Dafydd Elis Thomas (right) applauds Leanne Wood after she beat him in the Plaid Cymru leadership contest in 2012 Credit: PA

The battle of wills between Plaid Cymru's former leader Dafydd Elis Thomas and the party's current leader Leanne Wood comes to a head tonight at a special meeting of senior Plaid officials and constituency members in Porthmadog.

Lord Elis Thomas' refusal to always toe the party line has led to friction since Leanne Wood became Plaid's leader in 2012. Relations were briefly patched up after he faced disciplinary action for missing a vote in the Senedd but matters have come to ahead since the Westminster election in May.

He publicly criticised the election campaign for prioritising parity with Scotland rather than focussing on specifically Welsh issues, criticism that those close to the Plaid leadership say would have been more appropriately made in private. Friends of the Dwyfor Meirionnydd AM say he's found the party hierarchy unwilling to listen to his concerns.

Plaid Cymru's executive meets on Saturday and has the power to cancel Dafydd Elis Thomas' selection as candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd in next year's Assembly election. It would be an extraordinary and potentially damaging step to take against a man who was first elected as MP for the old Merionethshire seat in 1974.

Tonight's meeting, where he is expected to put his case, will test whether he still has the support of his local party. If he has its backing, the members of the party executive would have to ask themselves if they could really risk a split with the activists in Plaid Cymru's safest seat.

  1. Nick Powell

Ban GCHQ spying on AMs, Cameron told

Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham. Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

The Assembly's Presiding Officer has written to the Prime Minister demanding urgent clarification and consultation about reports that the UK Government's electronic surveillance agency, GCHQ, is no longer banned from spying on AMs.

Until last year, GCHQ extended the so-called Wilson doctrine, which forbids targeting MPs, to include members of devolved parliaments and assemblies. The doctrine is named after Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister who ruled in 1966 that the security services could not spy on MPs.

As Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, I am responsible for safeguarding the interests of all Members and I believe that they should be afforded the same treatment and status by the United Kingdom's security services, especially in regard to communications that they may have with constituents, as parliamentarians at Westminster.

– Assembly Presiding Officer Dame Rosemary Butler AM

The change of policy emerged during a court case about the alleged interception of communications to and from the Green MP Caroline Lucas, Green Peer Baroness Jones of Mouscombe and the former Respect MP George Galloway. When the exemptions under the Wilson doctrine were reviewed, it was decided that it no longer applied at all to Welsh Assembly Members, Members of the Scottish Parliament and Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and the First Minister of Scotland have also written to the Prime Minister. There's concern in Scotland that the change of policy may have legitimised spying on the 'yes' campaign during last year's independence referendum. Plaid Cymru has called on Carwyn Jones to join the protests to David Cameron. The First Minister says he is concerned by the possible infringement of AMs' privacy.

It’s completely unacceptable that any communications between members elected to the devolved administrations and the people they represent might be monitored in this way. I’d like to hear from the UK Government about why this major rule change happened and why the devolved administrations were not consulted about it.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

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