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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Coalition and other myths

Commentators on Radio Wales this morning were speculating whether Labour's defeat on top-up fees will lead to Rhodri Morgan getting on the phone to Mike German in pursuit of a second coalition government. Both sides have ruled this out.

Certainly, such a proposition would be very difficult to sell to the party and to the public after the way that Labour have behaved over the last two years. They have acted with all the arrogance of an administration sitting on top of a huge majority rather than as one which might at some stage require the goodwill of others to govern and survive.

Nevertheless, it was suggested that journalists might wish to stake out some of the Cardiff Bay restaurants for signs of surreptitious talks between the two sides. This was a reference to the way that negotiations were conducted last time.

In 2000, it was felt that secrecy was paramount to stop the whole deal being stymied by opponents in both Labour and the Welsh Liberal Democrats. As a result, meetings were held with Government Ministers in the Sarn service station on the M4, a Gower pub, Ministers' offices in Cathays Park and a restaurant near to the UCI cinema in Cardiff Bay.

I recall one meeting that involved myself and the Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Leader, Mike German. We travelled to the office of Gower AM, Edwina Hart, in Gorseinon. As we engaged in discussions in a first floor room, the Gower Labour Ladies' group arrived for a meeting downstairs.

Once the meeting ended, we faced the dilemma of how to leave without being discovered. We agreed that Edwina Hart would go and talk to the group whilst Mike and I left quietly down the stairs and out of the front door. All was going well, until about halfway down Mike missed his footing and virtually fell down the remaining stairs with an almighty crash. He was unhurt so we quickly went on our way but I have always wondered whether the ladies' group noticed and if so how Edwina explained the noise.
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