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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Coalition blues

There is more trouble for the One Wales Government this morning as Plaid Cymru stepped up the pressure on Labour to deliver on the 217 promises in the coalition document and in particular the commitment to a referendum on full law-making powers by 2011.

Former Plaid Cymru president, Dafydd Wigley, has warned that the days of the Labour-Plaid coalition could be numbered because of concerns over both constitutional issues and the funding of the National Assembly.

“When the coalition government was established, there were misgivings about the adequacy of the funding of public services in Wales.

“So a central commitment in the coalition agreement was to review Assembly funding and finance, including the appropriateness of the controversial Barnett Formula.”

He said, “Last month’s UK Comprehensive Spending Review was regarded in Wales as an opportunity for Gordon Brown’s Government to indicate its understanding of the financial pressures on the Assembly. In fact, the financial settlement on Wales is one of the tightest in living memory.

“All this will put immense pressure on the coalition. The Plaid Cymru AMs might have been willing to accept delays to some of the spending-dependent commitments, if Labour showed its determination to drive forward with the parts of the agreement that didn’t entail significant new spending – such as holding a referendum on the new primary law-making powers.

“But Welsh Secretary Peter Hain’s recent comments that he does not expect that referendum to be held in the lifetime of this Assembly goes to the heart of the agreement between Labour and Plaid.

“If Labour starts backtracking on both constitutional promises and spending pledges, the days of the coalition government in Cardiff Bay might be numbered.”

In some ways this warning is revisiting old ground as Peter Hain has already stepped back from the comments referred to, however it does reflect a level of anxiety at the highest levels of Plaid Cymru as to whether Labour can be trusted or not. How this will go down with Labour AMs is unknown. A number of them are beginning to get a little weary of all this high drama every week.
Dafydd Wigley did everything in his power to support the rainbow and subsequently applied similar effort to scupper the One Wales agreement. His grapes are still sour and he won't let it go. He is of the right of Plaid, a natural bedfellow of the Tories and finds it hard to accept that the socialists in Plaid won the argument and the vote. As you suggest his weekly dramatic interventions are getting very very boring. I wonder if he knows to what degree it drains his credibility as a serious political figure?
I think Wigley's comments reveal quite a strange attitude towards the One Wales govt. It's as if he considers it a Lab minority govt with support from Plaid. In fact, it's supposed to be a partnership. So it's not just Labour who have to deliver on the One Wales commitments - it's Plaid as well. It's a joint responsibility.
What planet is "Patriot" on?
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