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Monday, July 09, 2007

The cost of change

As Wales gets used to the idea of a Plaid-Labour coalition and the two sides sit down to divide up the spoils, new doubts are being raised as to the affordability of the One-Wales document.

According to the BBC, ex-Plaid leader Dafydd Wigley has questioned whether the money will be there to meet the promises in the agreement. Ron Davies has the answer. He says that Labour and Plaid AMs will interpret their deal differently and therein lies the problem.

Although One-Wales is full of lots of goodies, it is couched in such vague terms that it is going to be very difficult to pin-down either side on its delivery. Furthermore, there are no financial priorities contained in it. Dafydd Wigley clearly believes that the UK Government's Comprehensive Spending Review is needed to bail the agreement out, but all the signs are that this will be a false dawn.

Plaid will now start to learn that having an ambitious but financially imprudent manifesto is not sustainable in Government. For Labour's part, one would have thought they knew better, unless that is they have intended using the money all along as their get-out-clause for some of the One-Wales document's dodgier pledges.
Peter - surely you know the answer to the question you pose in your last sentence? The One Wales document is full of loop-holes, most of which - in theory - favour Labour. Most constitutional elements can by stymied by Labour in Westminster, while in theory any policies that Rhodri dislikes can be dropped due to lack of money.

Another take on things, however, is that Plaid will simply use the threat of talks with the Tory bogeymen to get Labour to come up with the goods time and time again - or face the opposition benches. Interesting times indeed.
What you also have to take into account is that this agreement will allow the more progressive element of the Labour AM group to push through more radical ideas with Plaid's support; ignoring the loopholes.

Talking of uncosted policies, we were enlightened by Plaid speakers last Saturday about why the rainbow document might well be uncosted-mostly due to last minute Lib Dem policies added by the pro-rainbowist Libe, to swing the anti-rainbowist Libs. Isn't it a little ironic that the anti-Libs used the 'uncosted' excuse to vote no in their Exec meeting.
That was their version, it isnt necessarily the truth. I think both documents suffer from a lack of prioritisation.
Peter I think that its quite interesting that you choose to critcise this document on the basis of costing, when those in favour of the Rainbow didn't do anything of the sort when the All Wales Accord was the talk of the day.

Surely it is now up to the coalition to put this in to practise as best as possible, and to judge them on this merit. Trying to tear the document to shreds at this point is somewhat premature I would have thought.

The 'One Wales' deal was fully costed by the civil service and is deliverable. Dafydd Wigley has no access to this work and is not qualified to comment. He is a sour grapes 'rainbowista' who failed to influence Ieuan as he hoped. Dafydd Ellis and Adam prevailed to the benefit of all of us on the Welsh Left.
Rhodri Morgan is in dock, and not likely to be back at work for weeks. Presumably assignment of cabinet posts will have to wait until then.
Bethan, it is not me doing the criticism, it is Dafydd Wigley. As it happens I did criticise the All Wales Agreement on grounds of cost. Neither document seems to be very hot on priorities. In fact I have even criticised it in an earlier comment to this post.

Yes, it is up to the coalition to put the document into practise and it is up to the opposition to scrutinise it as I have done here. Get used to it.

Patriot, costing a document is completely different to ensuring it is affordable.
The rainbow document had 108 Lib Dem policies; many added at the last minute on the insistence of that party. Many of these proposals were uncosted and I venture to guess that the rainbow documen is far more costly that the red/green version.

Consequently, I do not take Lib Dem criticisms very seriously. However, Wigley's comments are always worth taking note of as unlike the Lib Dems, he has some credibility.
Actually all the Lib Dem proposals were costed as they were in our manifesto. The issue for both documents was priorities.
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