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Thursday, March 13, 2008

A growing rift?

There is a case for taking stories about rifts in the One Wales Government with a large pinch of salt. After all it is in the interests of both sides to play up differences now and again and to take a particularly macho stance so as to keep their more sceptical supporters on board and to give them some room for manoeuvre in their campaigning.

I am not therefore taking this latest spat between Plaid Cymru and Labour over the referendum on full law-making powers for the Assembly very seriously. Nevertheless it does cast a light on the tensions between the two partners, not least over whether the referendum will take place before 2011 and how we will build cross-party support for a 'yes' vote.

We are still waiting to see what the All Wales Convention is for and how it will help to make the case for a full Welsh Parliament built on the Scottish model. My view is that unless it is a cross-party campaign then it is not worth having. We can sample public opinion all we like but our role should surely be one of leadership and that means getting out there and making the case in an effective way.

Labour would also do well to heed Adam Price's words. He said: "If anyone thinks the Labour Party can walk away from an agreement it has signed up to, they are not living in the real political world.” The referendum is clearly more important to the Nationalists than any of the real improvements they can bring to people's lives in government.

As the coalition founders on the rocks of undeliverable promises, Welsh Labour conservatism and financial stringency this plebiscite will become more important to Plaid. It will be the only possible gain from their decision to ditch the rainbow and sign up to yet another four years of Labour Government. If they are not able to deliver on that either then Plaid's first foray into Government will be seen to be a failure. No wonder Adam Price is annoyed.
"The referendum is clearly more important to the Nationalists than any of the real improvements they can bring to people's lives in government"

And there you betray your true colours. Are you suggesting that you believe that a Parliament will bring no 'real improvements'? Or that anyone in Plaid supports it for any reason other than the 'real improvements' which they believe it will enable Wales to make?
I think most people would say that we have to prove the case that a Parliament will bring real improvements. I believe that it will but my focus at the moment is on delivering beneficial change in service delivery rather. I would suggest that Plaid Cymru would benefit from focussing in the same way.
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