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Friday, March 06, 2009

The interfering MPs and a weakened party leader

Some fascinating coverage in the media today about the agonies faced by Labour and Plaid Cymru in particular as they come to terms with the realities of coalition politics.

Peter Hain is in particularly devastating form in arguing that Plaid Cymru's internal squabbles are threatening the future of the One Wales Government. He points to the disagreements over policy within Plaid that he believes are endangering the survival of the coaliton:

He said: "Ieuan Wyn Jones should get his party's house in order if he wants to be taken seriously as a governing party.

"It is absurd that some politicians within the ranks of Plaid Cymru continue to undermine the policies of the One Wales project that they belong to."

Peter Hain cites the intervention of Adam Price MP in the decision of the Plaid Cymru Assembly Group to abandon its policy on top-up fees as well as opposition by other leading figures in Plaid to the new defence training academy at St. Athan that will create thousands of jobs. He argues that the instability that this squabbling is causing within the junior government party is threatening the credibility of Plaid as a party of government and as a coalition partner.

Meanwhile, Ieuan Wyn Jones himself went on television last night to claim that his position has been "enhanced" over the issue of student top-up fees, despite criticism from his party. He told BBC Wales' Dragon's Eye that he was not "forced" to surrender the policy by his Labour colleagues:

"We argued very hard indeed as you would expect for the package to be an enhanced package of student support," he said. "We wanted to ensure that student debt was properly addressed. As a result I think of what we said, that will happen."

This bravado has not convinced anybody: BBC Wales political editor Betsan Powys said she doubted that Mr Jones had emerged stronger from the fallout.

"I don't see how this week can possibly have enhanced his party's position nor its leader's position either," she said.

"What Adam Price has done here is to put the focus right back on this being a decision taken in Cardiff by a Welsh government and of course his own party and that isn't helpful to them in the long run."

Peter Hain is a back bench MP who has no role whatsoever in deciding the continuation or otherwise of the coalition. He also has no insight as to the views of those who do have that responsibility.

I think you are grasping at straws if you think Hain offers a glimmer of hope of the coalition unravelling.
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