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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The realities of power

John Dixon has an interesting post on the realities of working within a coalition government. In many ways he is right. Forming alliances with other parties involves making compromises and on occasions swallowing policies you are not comfortable with. The nub of his argument lies in this passage:

So, the right question is not 'How can you stay in government when they do something contrary to your party's policies?', but more 'How do you decide which issues are important enough to threaten the agreement which you have reached?'

Having been in a coaliton government I can testify that his analysis is spot on. However, he has missed out one crucial ingredient, the taking of responsibility for decisions made by the government irrespective of whether they are made by your ministers or not.

At present Plaid Cymru are in the curious position of trying to take credit for the good decisions whilst seeking to distance themselves from the unpopular ones or those that are contrary to their policies. It is as if they are a semi-detached branch of the government, not an integral part of it.

The latest development is the apparent separation of Plaid Cymru into two parties, the activists and the Assembly Members. In this way they hope to be able to campaign against decisions that their elected members are a party to.

It is dishonest and it is unprincipled. If, as John Dixon invites his colleagues to consider, the introduction of top-up fees in Wales is not important enough to cause them to walk out of the coalition then the least they can do as a party is to stop pretending that they had nothing to do with the decision.



I don't think that I suggested "the introduction of top-up fees in Wales is not important enough"; nor did I suggest that it is important enough. The post made it clear, I thought, that I was not passing judgement either way (as in "I do not intend at this stage to pass any judgement on where the issue of tuition fees sits against this sort of question"). But I'll agree that I was inviting my colleagues to ask themselves that question.
You are right John, I noted that and did not intend to imply otherwise. I have amended my post.
Don't worry about it Green Man, John's a chemist NH2CONH2
Peter, Just in case you have forgotten your schoolboy chemistry, the person who uses the cowardly identity "Anonymous" thinks it clever to put "NH2CONH2" on your polite Blog. That formula is a symbol for "Urea" the main constituent of Urine - in other words, Anonymous is telling us to "Pee Off". If I were you I'd edit out Anonymous in future unless he can be polite.
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