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Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Although I am fundamentally opposed to the Welsh Liberal Democrats becoming embroiled in a coalition at this time, there has been a democratic vote of the National Executive Committee that says that we should explore this route. I have agreed therefore that for the time being I will serve on the negotiating team. My rationale is that if I lose the final vote and this coalition comes about then I want to make sure that we get the best possible deal for the party. After all I may end up defending it for the next four years.

The main problem it seems to me is the time we have in which to put this deal together. The last partnership agreement was negotiated over a period of about two months with full civil service support. This time we have three days. That period of time is sufficient to put together the main part of the document but it leaves precious little time to sort out the sticking points and to get the costings and legalities right.

I am sure that the final document, which will be put before the relevant party executives on Wednesday night will be fine but it will not be as good as it could be. It may also leave a number of issues unresolved to the dissatisfaction of one party or another. That in turn could provide a rallying point for opposition at the subsequent party conference, if the matter gets that far.

All-in-all it is a risky business that may well cause future problems for the three parties involved and their ministers. It is going to be a very challenging time and I still have no idea how it will all end up.

Update: Liberal Democrat Powys County Councillor, David Peter, is quite forthright in his views of a potential coalition.
I assume that the rainbow negotiations spell the end of any pretensions by the Liberal Democrats and Plaid to the delivery of a successful referendum for a Scottish style Parliament. In all practical senses this could only be achieved through the full sponsorship and support of the Labour Party. This of course will be impossible with Labour in opposition and the Tories in the government. The rainbow spells the end of the devolution project as we know it. When are the Liberal Democrat and Plaid hierachies going to be honest with their memberships about the true price of the rainbow?
Once again another sensible and honest post. You are right to argue that the best long term interest of the Lib Dems would probably be served by not joining any other party. The Lib Dems could then rebuild and judge each issue on its merits. Unfortunately there is too much emphasis on the fact that stability requires a majority. There are plenty of examples of minority governments adopting sensible consensus policies and surviving. It isn't easy but it is possible. The problem with the Rainbow alliance is the argument that it doesn't have the moral authority to form a government with Labour as the largest party.There is also the issue that a rainbow alliance government could find its legislation held up by Labour MPs on the grounds of a lack of a mandate. Welsh politics will become more interesting but it will not be plane sailing as some seem to be suggesting.It also seems obvious that whether the allinace will occur depends on the Lib Dems. Ieuan Wynne Jones's deadline argument is merely an attempt to show his left wingers that Labour has been unreasonable. He wants to be First Minister. The Tories will jump at any chance to return to power. It realy is only the members of the Lib Dems such as yourself who have the chance to take what they believe is the long term principled option.
The costings issue is actually a big one, isn't it? The Lib Dems always insist on a fully costed manifesto, and rightly so, but isn't there a real danger that in the haste of cobbling together bits from 3 seperate manifestos, we'll end up with a programme that is actually undeliverable?
Sorry and all that, but I cannot help but feel that you are not protesting enough. You have previously been uneqivocal about spending time in opposition to better define the Lib Dem platform, so how do you equate that stance with also being part of the coalition design team? It seems to me that in accepting such a role you are sending out entirely the wrong message to the membership and the electorate.

I can understand why you would be part of a negotiating team.

However I agree with lb I think we need to leave this one alone.
I admit it! I was originally all for a rainbow coalition (well really I wanted to see an all party Executive) I feel differently now about it!
shouldn't we grasp the nettle, the political scene in wales has changed, a new radcal approach is needed - in the tradition of welsh politics - realising that a first past the post government is likely to be a rare event from now on, so do you try the new coalition approach? history is there, will you take it? as for david peter, shame on the man, brecon and radnor liberal dems are a shameful lot and powys councillors shouldhave stayed independent too.
The most distateful part of this Assembly election is seeing elected members behaving in a way that is more acceptable from the media. Issues that should be disussed in conference and at party meetings have been aired like dirty linen in public. The Lib/Dems are the worst.

There are so many important issues for the parties and their elected (remember, they are paid very well) members to get their heads down now to achieve a modern government for us in Wales.

But we are seeing extremely chidlish attention seeking behaviour from a number of quarters. From all parties. This is what some mean we are not putting up the right caliber of people up as AMs.

We should note this behaviour and remember it next time. Maybe all right for local government but the Assembly, I don't think so.
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