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Saturday, June 23, 2007

A week for decisions

This morning's Western Mail contains a two page spread speculating on what is going to happen next week with regards to the future governance of Wales. All three of the paper's political reporters conclude that the Rainbow Coalition will prevail over Plaid-Labour, albeit for different reasons.

David Williamson says that the opportunity for Plaid Cymru to lead a government may not come again for a generation. He adds that a very different Labour Party will fight the 2011 Welsh elections, and Rhodri Morgan's successor will have spent months courting potential coalition partners. Plaid and the Conservatives know this, and it is one reason why they believe the iron is hot and it is time to strike.

Tomos Livingstone concludes that those who see a Plaid-Labour link-up as an opportunity to realign the Welsh left are in a minority within the Party of Wales. He also believes that Labour does not really want this option either. The rainbow deal, by contrast, is agreed and ready to go, subject to a Plaid special conference. No outcome is flawless and each has its problems, but it looks like the rainbow is going to happen.

Martin Shipton tells us that Plaid fought their election campaign on a pledge to "Kick New Labour into touch". Ieuan Wyn Jones can hardly be surprised therefore, if he meets considerable resistance from Plaid members when seeking to sell them the merits of a deal with Labour. Given the chance to lead a government or play second fiddle in someone else's, the decision will be a 'no-brainer' for most Plaid members.

The paper's analysis of the Welsh Liberal Democrats' options are a bit out of date. They report the fact that the party's NEC has been placed on stand-by to authorise the re-opening of talks with Labour if the Plaid Assembly group backs a coalition deal of their own with Rhodri Morgan. Tomos Livingstone however, suggests that Mike German might have difficulty persuading his own group to agree to this course of action - we did so last Tuesday.

There is also a belief that if the Plaid group decide to recommend the Labour option on Tuesday then the deal is signed and sealed, game over. That is not necessarily the case. Both parties need to get the endorsement of a party conference before that position is reached and there will be nearly two weeks to fill in which other talks can take place.

Finally, it is true that the Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference voted 60-40 (not two to one) in favour of a rainbow coalition. It is also true, as I am quoted as saying, that a sizeable number of that 40% did not want to see a deal with anybody. That however, does not make a 'no' vote inevitable if a further Conference is called to discuss a Lib-Lab Coalition. The dynamics would be very different.

I have to say that just as I believe that the decision of the Plaid Cymru group on Tuesday is too close to call, so would be the outcome of a new Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference on a vote to go into government with Rhodri Morgan. The only thing that seems certain is that we will have a final verdict on the rainbow coalition next week, after that who knows.

In the chamber on Wednesday, Caerphilly Labour AM, Jeff Cuthbert, referred to an event that took place a week before the election. Sitting there, listening, I suddenly thought that this must have happened last year. It hadn't of course, but the feeling underlined the extent of the marathon we are currently crawling through.

On the doorsteps last night people were commenting that the whole process was a shambles. I do not share that view. What we are witnessing are the growing pangs of a democracy, but as with any errant child, sometimes you just wish they would grow up quicker.


You know quite well that the Western Mail are hopelessly biased towards the 'rainbow'. They are panicking about the strength of the red/green deal and hence the reporting we saw yesterday and today trying to undermine red/green and create momentum for the 'rainbow'. Today's reporting was very predtictable but not evidence based at all.

Incidentally if Plaid agree the deal in group there will be no discussions with the Liberal Democrats. Lib Dem threats to open negotiations with Labour are recognised as nothing other than a tactic to drive Plaid back to the 'rainbow' and neither Plaid nor labour are taking them seriously.

Plaid and Labour will honour the agreement unless it is rejected by one or other parties at some stage in the process e. g. the conferences.

You really mustn't assume that all parties are as duplicitous, unreliable and unprincipled as yours.

On another tack I was down at the senedd the other day watching plenary. The body language and eye contact between your AMs was something to behold and was a topic of some comment in the gallery.

Kirsty seemed glad of the aisle separating her from Mike - even if the cost was sitting next to the Tories.

Do you really believe your lot are in a fit state to be in government with anyone right now?
Some might suggest Patriot that Plaid Cymru's behaviour in moving away from the rainbow coalition and talking to Labour as well could be classed as duplicitous, unreliable and unprincipled. I do not agree with this view of course any more than I think that the terms apply to my party.

By the way I think you are reading too much into this body language and eye contact malarky. Nothing has changed in our group in that regard for eight years. The group is composed of six strong characters who do not always get on but when it comes to the crunch we have been more disciplined than either Tories or Plaid in the Assembly and we have maintained that discipline in government for three years. In my view we are fit to be part of government and we will deliver as we always have done. The people who have to prove themselves in this regards are Plaid Cymru who seem to be in a bit of disarray themselves.
It's too early Petere for a coup d-etat. Mike G may not be all you'd wish, but you and Kirstyare not ready for leadership, The destabilisation now is not worth the damage.
If there was a coup it would be a coup d'grace but as there isn't one then you are allowing your imagination to run riot.
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