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Friday, May 23, 2008

Annual Report

The Western Mail's Chief Reporter, Martin Shipton has published his verdict on the first year of Wales' Labour Plaid Cymru Coalition Government. It is a fair and interesting analysis:

Much of the One Wales agreement, in fact, seems deliberately vague when it comes to specific, practical commitments.

A typical phrase is “working towards”: “working towards reforming NHS Trusts”; “working towards eliminating the use of private sector hospitals [by the NHS] by 2011”, a commitment that some would see as mere ideological posturing, with the get-out that a failure to achieve the aspiration does not represent a broken promise.

From the point of view of the Welsh Liberal Democrats I was disappointed in the fact that Martin continues to insist on placing the blame for the failure of the Rainbow Coalition on the tied vote in the party's executive and in particular on Kirsty Williams. This is a myth that is often trotted out. In fact the Rainbow Coalition was still a real possibility right up until Plaid Cymru walked away from it. Martin puts forward a view that if the Welsh Liberal Democrat Executive had taken place in Cardiff rather than Llandrindod Wells then the outcome would have been different. I disagree.

It is worth noting that when the Executive convened that night there was a clear majority in favour of the Rainbow Coalition. Arguments against were muted and resigned to what was seen as an inevitable acceptance of the deal. By the time it came to a vote the mood had changed and some of those who had been initially in favour had changed their mind.

Although I did not have a vote it is my view that the reason for this change was because those advocating the deal had failed to make their case in any convincing way. They pitched their argument in terms of the party winning power rather than on the merits of the policies in the agreement. By the end of the meeting some members were doubtful whether the programme was deliverable. They believed that the deal was more about certain individuals gaining Ministerial positions rather than what the party could do for the benefit of Wales.

In the circumstances I think it is fair to say that if the Rainbow Coalition died at that Executive meeting then it was not its opponents who killed it but those who were advocating it for what were perceived as the wrong reasons.
A striking omission from the One Wales delivery plan: any indication of funds. It's completely silent about how much money will be spent.
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