.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Merger most foul

I suppose that we must all resign ourselves to the fact that most of the political coverage in Wales over the next week will be about the Labour-Plaid coalition deal. Both parties are due to hold their conferences to ratify the deal next weekend after which the emphasis will shift to the governance of Wales itself and the deliverability of the One Wales document.

In the meantime dissenting voices continue to make themselves heard. What is most unexpected however is this piece in the Western Mail in which Hayzell David, an activist in Plaid's women's section, advocates a merger between Labour and Plaid:

Ms David’s paper says that for decades the two popular socialist parties in Wales – Plaid Cymru and the Labour Party – have keenly fought for the same sector of the electorate. “Yet both Plaid strategists and progressive Labour planners realise that the long term aim must be to join forces as a popular socialist movement in a self-governing Wales.

“Political careers and effort are being wasted in inter-party conflict when the ideological enemy – Conservative, Liberal, Ukip, BNP etc – are reaping the rewards. The two majority Welsh parties are not giving best service to Wales if they are intent on mutual destruction. If eventual merger is desirable, and perhaps inevitable, now is the time to start.

“The parties are becoming approximately equal in terms of activists, organisation and [non-union] membership in Wales. The cycle of inter-socialist conflict must be broken. United in effort, the coalition will be the first united socialist front to rule Wales.

“It may be hard for many to bury the hatchet, but the opportunities are well worth it.”

Such a merger would of course involve the separation of Wales Labour from the UK Labour movement but let us not allow niceties to get in the way of a good argument. Quite how such talk will go down with Plaid's rank and file is another matter. It is likely that this particular paper will not secure wide support in either party.

Update: Ceredig suggests that the whole piece was a spoof and offers a convincing argument to back up his proposition. As I pointed out in the comments, blogging about an article in the Western Mail does not amount to endorsing that piece or even believing it, however like others I was prepared to countenance that a very small minority of Plaid activists might advocate such a merger. It was an interesting talking point but ultimately a distraction from the main debate.

I would be more careful about taking a lead from the reporting in the Western Mail of for that matter the BBC. Both are shamelessly 'pro rainbow' and both are straining every sinew to stir controversy by quoting 'anti red/green' Plaid and Labour members in a way that is completely unrepresentative of mainstream opinion.

Apart from the bias, the reporting has been incredibly factually weak. For weeks I have heard material quoted that I know from personal knowledge to be factually incorrect or more worryingly fabricated. One example was the alleged informal discussions between Rhodri and the Lib Dems, which we both know didn't happen.

Depressingly, Wales now seems to be without any independent media. The success to date of the red/green alliance in the face of total media opposition, shows the strength of support for it inside Plaid and Labour.

The conferences could still throw up problems, particulary the attitude of some Labour MPs, but I hope that in the end this natural coalition of the left which so closely profiles to Wales's true political morphology will prevail
I am not taking an editorial line on these issues just reporting their editorial line, if you follow what I am saying. I can tell you that there was at least one informal conversation between Mike German and Rhodri Morgan. Dont think that just because it is in the Western Mail it is untrue.
Plaid / Labour merger eh? And we think we have internal problems to solve!!
Patriot :
"quoting 'anti red/green' Plaid and Labour members in a way that is completely unrepresentative of mainstream opinion"

That is the majority opinion on the street. As for Labour meeting with the Liberal Democrats, look back into recent blogs where someone from the Libs tell us they were keeping options open with Rhodri. The Liberals remided us they were always important in these negotiations, and that was on blogs.

If all you have to go on is articles in the Western Mail (from a Plaid member that I have never heard of) to make your point, then you do have problems.

As for your comment Karen, you indeed have major problems as not only have you voted your way out of government but also lost a huge amount of credibility within the political world, the media and the public.

Talk of a Lib Dem free-zone in Wales after you party's actions is unreasonable, but a collapse in your vote is a distinct possibility.
Ian, I am not claiming any great insight, I am merely commenting on one article in the Western Mail. Let us not get too carried away here shall we?

The Welsh Liberal Democrats voted to go into government it was the double dealing by Plaid that undermined that effort. As for your predictions of a collapse in our vote then given your previous track record in predicting election results I think we will take our chances.
" (from a Plaid member that I have never heard of)"

Could it have been written by the very enthusiastic Plaid leftie from Llanelli who seems to be posting his leftie views everywhere to make a big impression?
Double dealing by Plaid undermined the rainbow coalition?

Please find me anyone outside your small band of party friends who agrees with this. Isn't it about time that you admitted responsibility for your party's failure to support the coalition at the crucial executive meeting, or are you determined to live in denial?
Ian, I did not have a vote on the Executive. If I had I would have cast it to go to Conference and argued against the coalition there. If anybody failed at the Executive it was those who were promoting the rainbow coalition. They failed to marshall support for their point of view.

However, having said all that the party voted in favour of the rainbow three days later. It has been on the table for weeks but Plaid did not pick up the opportunity. In fact whereas we showed our commitment to the rainbow coalition by ceasing to talk to Labour, Plaid continued playing one side off against the other. The only conclusion we can draw is that irrespective of how the Welsh Liberal Democrats voted Plaid was never serious about that particular option.
Ultimately after the intervention of those described by David Thomas as "the noble lords", I was amongst many who had welcomed a tri-partite arrangement but in counting the votes accepted that there were not enough AMs in favour of it for stability. Add to that the inevitability that LIb-Dem priorities would change (and understandibly so) after the local authority elections in order to best defend the seats of the four MPs, the chances were considerable that your party might wish to better oppose the Conservatives by ordering you out of the coalition.
That might not have been have materialised but it was desperately difficult to judge from the outside given the general hostitity expressed by many of your blogging colleagues.
For my part I counted probably 14 Plaid, 12 Conservative given their discipline and 4 Lib Dems, namely Eleanor, Mick, Jenny and Mike. You have repeatedly expressed your opposition to the coalition and have reported that Kirsty is totally opposed to a coalition with the Conservatives.
With just 30 votes you cannot afford anyone to be ill. Ministers cannot make the visits they should make and the "Council of the Isles" as it may be termed cannot function. Nor can you afford anyone going AWOL.
It now behoves anyone hoping to see a transfer of Scottish equivalent powers after a referrendum to start building bridges with allies from each of the three other parties. Recriminations have to be set aside if we are to succeed.
In any event your party will now be able to settle this autumns leadership engagement without additional pressures arising from coalitions.
Garenig, that is an extraordinary simplistic approach. All of the AMs involved are grown-up politicians who know that once they have had the argument and an issue has been resolved then they should all get behind it. That is how democratic parties work.

Both Kirsty and I have said that we accept the view of our conference and would work with the rainbow coalition if it happened. We are not going to try and de-stabilise it from within. That is in nobody's interest.

All three parties have the discipline to deliver the All-Wales Accord. There is no suggestion that if Plaid had gone another way that the four refusniks in their group could not be relied on and nor should there be. They would have fallen into line as I would have done (and had already done). The Welsh Liberal Democrats have already shown they have the discipline to be in government between 2000 and 2003. we have nothing to prove in that regard.

It is also the case that Ministers have far wider powers than previously. Votes in the Assembly are not as efficacious as they used to be.
Not only is it simplistic, but typical of the attitude of many Plaid members who are desperately trying to come to terms with what they see as a sell out by the Assembly group.

I have just read a message from a Plaid member on a local (Pontypridd) forum under the heading "Plaid executive support coalition." which reads "Just one more step left now, before Plaid are officially sold out by Labour."

If Plaid want to join forces with Labour then fair enough they are perfectly entitled to do so. But for their members to blame everyone else and claim they have somehow been forced into this is ludicrous.
Perhaps I am simple enough to remember:
that there are periodically people who transfer as Members of Parliament from one party to another,
that Karen did so as a Councillor,
that there are regular rebellions within parties,
that Lib Dem AMs proposed a coalition and
that their party's National Executive turned it down, and
there followed a rebellion led by Council leaders invoking a special conference to overturn its Executive's stance.
Additionally, governing coalitions dissolve across Europe with some frequency.
All this reliance on history is of course extraordinarily simplistic.
Neither had yourself and Kirsty made clear your commitment to work with the coalition to a wide enough audience.
Your coalition in 2000-2003 was thought by outsiders to go with the grain. Karen's comments as well as your own suggest that this may have been in some measure more against the grain for a number of your key personnel.
I have been active (simple soul as I am) in building bridges with members of each of the other three parties. I see little evidence of that approach by either yourself or Karen.
Well you have not been paying attention then nor do you know the key players at all well. We have all made a public committment to work with the democratic decision of our party and to accept. None of us intend to jump ship, we are in our natural home. These just sound like excuses to me to support an alternative coalition. It is about time Plaid members started taking responsibility for their own actions and stopped blaming others.
Peter, you know as well as anyone that, if the Executive had voted for the Rainbow on that fateful night, Ieuan Wyn would be First Minister today and the Libs and Tories would be in government. To suggest that plaid were "never serious" about the Rainbow is a lie and you know that.

On the other hand you are right to say that by the end Plaid did have a choice between the Rainbow and the Red-Green, and it was their choice then to go Red-Green.

I supported the Rainbow and the anger I felt towards the Libs on that night is still there today. After the mess caused by your executive I went back on the fence and stayed there until details of both documents were around. They were VERY similar documents, both very good for Plaid to be honest.

In the end I don't know which way I would have voted to be honest. While on the one hand I have a pathalogical distrust of Welsh Labour and knew what a magnificant statement it would make to the world to have a Nationalist First Minister, on the other hand I could not see any way for a coalition with the Libs to be stable. While I do not for a second doubt Mike German's commitment to it, and I understand that, just like the Plaid Four, you'd have fallen in line if need be, your party is still in disaray and needs a few years to work out what it wants. It would have been a disaster for everyone, bar Labour, if you'd worked out what you wanted two years down the line, and what you wanted wasn't the Rainbow.

I still, as I did that night, think that the Libs will suffer a lot at the next Westminster Elections, with two or maybe three seats dissapearing, and to be honest i won't shed too many tears ;-)

I'm happy with Plaid's eventual choice in the circumstances, although a Rainbow back before your executive vote would have been so exiting too. I never thought Plaid would manage to approach such negotiations with such professionalism and, along with the other three parties, produce two stunning documents for the governance of Wales.

The last two months has been superb for politics and I am genuinly exited about the policies to be implemented (as I would be if the Rainbow had survived).
As usual, Guto is talking his desperate rubbish.

We all know that if the Executive had voted the other way on that "fateful night" Plaid would probably have thrown it out on the Saturday.

What we are seeing now is a bunch of Plaid activists absolutely s**itting themselves because they know that they promised to "kick Labour into touch", and come the next elections, that betrayal will feature heavily in people's minds. They are desperatley trying to have their cake and eat it. But there is no-one else to blame and Guto, and the electorate knows it.

Guto says that we will lose two or possibly three seats at the next General election. Well, following Plaid's decision, at least we know for a fact that Ceredigion won't be one of them. I could write the leaflets with my eyes closed!
I do hate having to talk to "anons", especially when they talk so much bile and rubbish.

I said myself, Plaid had a choice again by the end and chose Red-Green. I've no reason to deny that because, as I've already said, I'm happy with the choice.

For anyone to say that Plaid never wanted the Rainbow and was "never serious about it" is compleatly stupid though. The Rainbow would have happened but for that vote of the executive, there is little doubt about that. By the time the Libs returned to the table (after, I must concede, a very impressive stand by the grassroots against their executive's decision)I, and clearly now the Plaid AM's, just didn;t feel the neccessary stability was there.

That's not an attack on anyone, it's just the truth. Peter seems to have gotten his wish, time on the backbenches to reflect. So far though, the clear image being portrayed everywhere, whether in mainstream media or in internet ramblings, is that the Liberals will have plenty of peace to gather those thoughts. As BBC Wales's Welsh Affairs Editor puts it - For the time being, the Liberal Democrats' role is marginal to say the least

Maybe anon, if you really do wish to start debating other people's post, you actually tell us which parts you find so "desperate rubbish" and why that is so? And maybe putting your name to posts might help?
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?