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Monday, January 03, 2005

Those First Minister blues

What is Rhodri Morgan rambling on about? In an interview with the Western Mail this morning he has mooted the possibility that he could be removed from office by opposition AMs during 2005.

In suggesting that Labour could lose its majority at Cardiff Bay and that the opposition parties could combine to oust him, Rhodri is playing to a groundless rumour so as to keep his own AMs in line. These whisperings have largely been fuelled by the media because it is in their interests to create a bit of controversy, a talking-point, to maintain their audience figures. I am not aware of any substance to this speculation nor of any possibility that it could be deliverable either.

The flaw to Rhodri's argument of course is in his mathematics. Yes, there is the possibility that he could lose his majority if Peter Law stands as an Independent in Blaenau Gwent, but there is at least one opposition AM on maternity leave, substantial evidence that the three opposition parties do not have the discipline to drive home their advantage on a regular basis, and the possibility that one opposition Tory AM could become an MP and add irregular attendance to the arithmetic. There is also the fact that to oust the First Minister the Presiding Officer and his Deputy would need to resign and join in the voting. The likelihood of this happening is remote in my view. There has been no indication that they would both act in concert in this way.

Finally, the evidence of the First Assembly is that, undesirable as it is to be running a minority government, it is possible if you are prepared to be inclusive and work across parties to achieve a consensus. I suspect that it is the desire to avoid this scenario that is driving the First Minister to rally his troops by using these scare tactics. Since they have secured a majority Labour have reverted to type and abandoned any attempt at inclusivity and consensus. It would really hurt them to have step back into democratic mode now.

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