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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Cold feet?

Is Plaid Cymru backing off the idea of a rainbow coalition? Adam Price, who was the party's main negotiator in the tripartite talks last week has now told the Western Mail that he prefers the idea of working with Labour to a three way Plaid-Tory-Lib Dem coalition, but will support that second option if no deal with Labour is forthcoming.

His doubts seem to be reflected in Ieuan Wyn Jones' remarks earlier this week that the chances of Labour being ousted in the next six weeks and replaced with the “rainbow” coalition – led by himself – were 50-50. On Radio Wales yesterday Alun Ffred Jones was equally as cautious.

Obviously, Plaid Cymru have their own democratic processes to go through and nobody can blame their leaders for being circumspect on the way forward before their National Council meeting in July. However, the voices against a deal with the Tories in Plaid continue to be heard more loudly than those with a contrary view, and in Adam Price they have won a major convert. It ain't over until it is over.
I disagree. There are plenty of voices in favour of a rainbow. This is merely posturing by Plaid. The simple fact is that when (not if) Ieuan becomes First Minister he wants to do so appearing as a responsible politician who has been forced to bring down Labour. It's all about appearing to support the stability of government.
Its the percieved unreliability of the Liberal democrats that has caused the problem. The All wales accord is being widely circulated in the party and has a lot of support. The mood in the party, in the north at any rate, has changed from caution to determination to go into government. Many activists who were initially opposed to a deal now support it enthusiastically.
Admittedly, the Welsh Liberal Democrats need to review their procedures which proved to be not up to the task. It is also possible to argue that those advocating the agreement failed to prepare their ground properly within the party. However, I do not agree that this amounts to unreliability.

There was a democratic debate in the party as there will be in Plaid and those in favour of the Accord won. Those who want us to be their allies need to get over it or we will start to think we cannot trust you.
In all seriousness I take your point. However do you accept that decision? The issue is what happens a year into the coalition and one bit of the lib dems is upset about a decision. Will there be a special conference and the coalition ended. This would still be "democratic" but hardly fills potential partners with confidence.
I have made it clear from the moment that the vote was announced that I am a democrat and that I will accept the decision of the conference and work with it. Naturally, I will deal with each vote as it comes up but that has always been my position anyway even when I was a Deputy Minister. The interests of my constituents must come first. In practice that will mean me voting with the group whip the vast majority of the time.
P.S. Any one of the three potential partners could call a special conference at any one time and terminate the agreement. That is not the exclusive preserve of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. It is not however likely that any of the three parties will do so.
There's a time and place for everything.

Will you be ready this time?
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