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Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Plaid in disarray

David Cornock on his BBC blog records the displeasure of Plaid Cymru's MPs at the recent attempt by their Assembly Leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, to lead from the front on tuition fees. David writes "Ieuan Wyn Jones announced recently that Plaid Cymru would only support the transfer of student funding powers from Westminster to Wales if it was accompanied by more money. Mr Jones did this without consulting his party's MPs, the only Plaid Cymru members who will get a vote on the legislation in the Commons. Parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd was furious. Mr Jones may be the party's assembly leader, but he was only expressing a personal view (albeit in a press release issued on behalf of Plaid Cymru). "Party policy is it should be devolved," said Mr Llwyd, "and party policy will be followed."

Interestingly, Ieuan Wyn Jones has just conducted a full u-turn on this issue. He justifies this on the grounds that the First Minister has now said that we will get the existing funding at the same time as the powers. The problem is that this has always been the position and had been made clear on a number of occasions by the Education Minister and the Finance Minister. Of course Ieuan's original objection has not been addressed - that is that we will not get any extra money to do our own thing on variable fees, but we should not let the facts get in the way of a good u-turn.

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