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Saturday, January 20, 2007

'A week of flip-flopping'

The fall-out of the Labour-Nationalist budget deal continues to hit the pages of the Western Mail with chief critic, Leighton Andrews, again outlining his disgust at how his party gave Ieuan Wyn Jones an easy ride, but also making it clear once more that Plaid caved in far too easily, leaving schools to pay the cost of further budget cuts:

"Despite not voting for this, Plaid is trying to claim credit for it. How did Plaid get away with their claims? Because we were asked not to criticise them during the Budget debate. Ministers asked us not to attack Plaid until after the vote, because having watched Ieuan Wyn flip-flop over the previous 10 days they weren't sure that he could be relied on to keep his word to abstain even after he had put out his press release and made his speech.

"Many if not most of us, I think, on the Labour back benches disagreed with the approach of laying off Plaid but out of loyalty - particularly to Sue Essex, for whom there is understandable admiration and affection - agreed to go along with it. I pulled out of the debate, since my speech would have had a go at all the opposition parties including Plaid. So did at least one other colleague.

"We were promised however that the attacks on Plaid would start after 5.30 that afternoon. They didn't, and Ieuan Wyn got a free ride on Wales Today and Wales Tonight, which I thought at the time was a disgrace.

"Laying off Plaid was and is a mistake. A lot of Labour members in the Valleys have asked me since whether the Budget deal means a coalition with Plaid is being secretly planned. I don't believe for one minute that it foreshadows any Labour-Plaid coalition deal - it was simply a judgment made at the time in relation to the Budget. A coalition with Plaid would be highly unpopular with Labour members in the Valleys, and with most Valleys AMs.

"Plaid contributed virtually nothing to the budget settlement, and got virtually nothing out of it. Except that Ieuan Wyn got a life-line after a week of flip-flopping, as he twisted according to the last thing said to him, either by the other opposition leaders or by members of his group and his party. We got our Budget, which was important for Wales and our constituents. Certainly we came out of the Budget debate as the only grown-up party."

All of this contrasts starkly of course with Plaid's own propaganda offensive in which they claimed to have found £14m plus for schools. The reality, as Leighton is all to keen to point out, is that they levered out of Sue Essex another £300,000 across Wales, when if they had stuck with the other opposition parties they could have secured so much more.
Plaid's budget tactics worked fantastically as it marginalised both the Lib Dems and the Tories. Leighton Andrews is only crying wolf cause his ridiculous vote plaid get tory strategy is in tatters.

Following the budget Mike German has decided to drop the red line of PR in local government - otherwise you lot would have been irrelevant up till May.

Can I take it from your brownosing of Leighton that the Lib - Lab pact is set in stone?
I dont think it is difficult to work out your allegiances from your comment or your blog. What Plaid's tactics did was to hand Labour an easy victory whilst depriving schools and farmers of the money they could have got if we had all stuck together.

How much you were taken for a ride is evidenced by what Leighton Andrews has to say in his report and on his blog. Essentially, he described Ieuan Wyn Jones as a cheap date, because he and other Labour AMs were expecting to have to pay a far higher price to get the budget through.

Far from 'brown nosing' Leighton I am quoting him to make a point. There are no plans to go into partnership with anybody at the moment. We are going to wait to see what the electorate have to say and then work with the outcome. If we do go into talks PR for local government will be one of a number of red-lined policies that we will require movement on. All that Mike German has said is that there are other policies as well that need to put into the melting pot.

In contrast Plaid have made no commitment on PR for local government, have rejected working with the Tories and are all lined up for doing a deal with Labour. You should not throw stones when you are standing in a glass house.
My point is that the problem with your argument is that you are quoting Leighton Andrews' statements as a matter of fact. Remember the man in fairness to him is a professional propagandist. My argument is that his comments today have far more to do with his wish to revive his failed vote plaid get tory strategy for the forthcoming election, and the way in which he is positioning himself for the downfall of Rhodri after May.
I am quoting him as somebody who has significant inside knowledge of what went on and of what Labour anticipated they might have to concede. I think in that respect he is a bit of an authority. I accept that he has an agenda but then so do you.
Well I thought Leighton Andrews was hilarious. The "deal" with the opposition came to an end because of the stupid claims by the tories that there would be an opposition government and the personal attacks on IWJ.

The idea of the budget dragging on ever longer with people in agencies across Wales waiting for funding would hardly have been an edifying spectacle before the elections.

As for the claim that "so much more" could have been had well we all have an agenda as you say.
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