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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Forming a government

And so it begins. I have had a bit more sleep and I am now preparing to drive into Cardiff for a group meeting followed by a joint session with the Welsh Liberal Democrat Executive. My result did not come through until 4.30pm yesterday so I did not have time to sign on. That is my first task today.

My instincts are that the Welsh Liberal Democrats do not have to be the deal-makers in this process. We have our own issues to sort out first around where we are going as a party and what sort of image we project to the Welsh public.

We obviously want to put Liberal Democrat policies into effect but there are other ways of doing that apart from being in government. The last thing we need is to enter a divisive and difficult process of negotiation with a Labour Party that has been rejected by the people of Wales when our own problems remain unresolved. We need to take our members with us on this not drive them away and surely the opposition of our four Council leaders to a deal with Labour must form a part of that process.
Glad to see your blog reverting to the thoughtful politics of its origins, Peter, rather than the campaign tool of recent months. I hope other blogging candidates follow suit.

But then again, is this just the manifestation of another campaign;)

Glad to see you back in the Assembly - and your result in Swansea West was very credible.
This view has certainly been reflected by candidates and activists I have spoken to within the party over the last two days.

There is no appetite for any deal with a Labour administration that we have worked so hard to get rid of.

Our results have been disapppointing, but we have to avoid any knee jerk reactions.

I'm a Labour party member and no fan of the Liberal Democrats, believe me. But, Labour will never enter into a coalition with Plaid Cymru. Full Stop. If Labour and the Liberal Democrats do not work together to build a more socially democratic Wales (and there is much common ground between the two parties), the alternative would be a disasterous rainbow coalition, that would take money away from deprived communities in our inner cities and valleys villages.

The alternative for the lib dems of not working with labour, is not a labour/plaid coalition. do you really want to see the likes of darren millar and angela burns sitting on the government benches?

i hope not.
The Welsh Liberal Democrat performance in the Assembly Elections came as a bitter disappointment. I expected at least one gain, possibly two.

Our unambitious manifesto was demonstration enough that we had lost our way. We were not distinctive, and consequently not appealing. It comes as no surprise to me that the independent candidates performed so well. They offered something different, and I don't think that we really did.

Peter, you are right in saying that we need to look at where we are going as a party. The Welsh Lib Dem 'brand' is long overdue an overhaul.

At the moment though, we need to turn our attention to the matter in hand and our role in the Assembly over the next four years. That is not helped by Assembly members publicly questioning Mike German's leadership, either explicitly or implicity, before the Assembly group and executive has even met to discuss the issue. Our council leaders have also behaved shamefully.

Let's wash the linen in private first.
I voted for the two Peters in Swansea - Black and May. I've voted Lib Dem for years.

I am no fan of the Conservatives - don't trust them one bit. They are the party of the rich and who can forget what Thatcher did to Wales in the 1980s whilst people in the South East of England flourished!?

I have an even less trust of the Nationalists as they are, in my opinion, a party of the Welsh language and they wish to discriminate against the English-speaking Welsh majority in any and all ways possible. Only a few years ago people associated with them were saying the most dreadful things about the English-speaking Welsh majority and not even considering us to be Welsh!

My natural home is one foot in the Lib Dems and quite a few toes in the Labour camp but... I am disgusted by how Cardiff and South East Wales has boomed under Rhodri Morgan and the Welsh Labour party in the last few years at the expense of other parts of Wales.

It seems that Rhodri is only concerned about Cardiff and it is appalling bordering on obscene how health care in West Wales is being run down and life saving units moved from Swansea to Cardiff. I have become convinced that the only two words Andrew Davies can speak are "Yes Rhodri"!

I would therefore be very angry if I voted for the Lib Dems only to discover that they were going to prop up Rhodri Morgan and Welsh Labour just so Rhodri can run down or close the health care in Swansea, Carmarthen, Llanelli and Haverfordwest!

I never thought I would say it but a rainbow coalition would be preferable to another 4 or 5 years of Rhodri Morgan!
Pntygwindy, I have questioned Mike German's leadership in the AM Group and the National Executive. As such I now feel able to do it publicly. Now is precisely the time when we need to sort these issues out.
My concern is that Mike German is going to go to bed tonight dreaming of what well-paid cabinet post that Rhodri will offer him. You know, give him a bit of power so he thinks he is important, a nice cabinet salary and an official limo...

But before Mike German nods off his last waking thought should be of the enormous backlash that is already brewing in Lib Dem ranks at the thought that he might do a deal with Rhodri and Welsh labour.

The people of Swansea voted out a Labour Council a few years ago and voted the Lib Dems into power in Swansea to clear up the Labour party mess. We still trying to find out how Swansea became so run-down, how suburbs like the Mumbles, Uplands and Brynmill have become filth strewn student ghettos and how, for years, the Labour Council in Swansea seemed only interested in bending over for the student population at the expense of hard-working decent local people who actually pay the council taxes in the city? I wonder for what party all those HMO landlords and nightclub owners vote!?

We're also still trying to find out where a few million quid of repair money went on Swansea Leisure Centre under Labour rule - is it true that no receipts for payments exist from that time? As for the seemingly never-ending threat to Swansea hospitals, to the Labour party constantly trying to move, or have moved, life-saving units from West Wales hospitals to Cardiff and the proposed what will be a murderous policy of closing Singleton and Morriston to build some 'super'-hospital on the M4 miles away from most Swansea people.

I doubt very much whether the people of Swansea would be happy if the Lib Dems now hopped into bed with Rhodri's Cardiff Taffia. Mike German might well get a nice cabinet post from it but in the next Council elections I have no doubt that the Lib Dems would pay dearly indeed! I have no doubt that the people of Swansea voted in such numbers for the two Peters last Thursday because they were so concerned about the Labour 'inspired' run-down of Swansea and the threats to our hospitals not just in Swansea but across West Wales in Llanelli, Carmarthen and Haverfordwest!
Labour was rejected by the electorate last Thursday. They fought a negative campaign and did not deserve to be returned to power. What would the Lib dems gain from proping up the Labour party? It might give 2 Lib dems AMs the trappings of a minister but at what cost to principle and honour. The Lib Dems should use the new powers of the assembly and the minority status of the Labour party to argue for radical change. German has to go and be replaced by a new face more likely in 2011 to appeal to young Welsh voters and those who did not vote in their thousands last week.
By publicly questioning Mike German's leadership both you and Eleanor have weakened the Welsh Lib Dem position in relation to coalition discussions, but then I suspect that was what you intended. you've made it very clear that you want no part in the next government.

And just who would take over from Mike German, anyway? The only real alternative would be Kirsty Williams, but I'm not so sure that she would want it at this point in time.

For a whole host of reasons, there isn't another one amongst you who would be suitable for the job. The alternatives are either too divisive or too incompetent.
I would suggest that this is the sort of thing you should be working out in smoke-filled rooms, but I know you don't approve..
I have not met a single activist who thinks a Labour coalition would be a good idea. Mike German has to remember that any coalition deal has to go before our membership, maybe he should try to save himself the embarrassment of losing that vote by not proposing it in the first place.
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