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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Plaid Cymru need to get a grip says Western Mail

It seems that I am not the only one to notice the failure of collective responsibility within the One Wales Government. This morning's Western Mail takes up the theme by pointing out that despite the Welsh Government last year, welcoming the granting of planning permission to the Pembroke Power Station, and the jobs that go with it this has not achieved uniform support within one of the governing parties.

They say that Plaid Cymru's President-elect has been accused by one of her Labour allies of putting hundreds of jobs at risk and undermining her own party leader by backing a legal challenge to the new power station.

The newspaper's editorial agrees and suggests that Plaid Cymru needs to get its act together. After all they are meant to be a party of government:

As Labour itself has long known, there are downsides to being in government. Until 2007 Plaid had never had a taste of real power – except, of course, at local council level.

Throughout the greatest part of its 85-year history, Plaid has built itself as a party of opposition.

Now, however, as a partner with Labour in the Assembly Government, Plaid’s ministers have to accept collective responsibility for decisions arrived at in Cabinet.

Last year, the Assembly Cabinet welcomed the granting of planning permission to the Pembroke Power Station, and the jobs that go with it.

Jill Evans, of course, is not a member of the Assembly Government.

She is not even an AM, but an MEP. And in September she will become Plaid’s president.

Ms Evans is not bound by the constraints that go with membership of the Assembly Government, and is comfortable operating in an arena – the European Parliament – where there is not an administration, let alone collective responsibility. She is used to ploughing her own furrow, whether it be opposing the establishment of a Defence Academy in the Vale of Glamorgan or now in trying to halt a power station in West Wales.

Until now, Labour has made limited mileage out of the inconsistencies between the policy positions of Ms Evans and her party leader Ieuan Wyn Jones. But once she takes over as party president in September, such differences will be exploited mercilessly by Plaid’s opponents in the run-up to next May’s National Assembly election. If the party doesn’t want to be made to look foolish, it needs to develop a consistent approach to important issues. Allowing the party leader to opt out of the party’s official opposition to nuclear power because he happens to represent a constituency where a nuclear power station is located is bad enough – but for the party leader and president to have diametrically opposed positions on significant policy issues is an absurdity.

They go on to say that Plaid had a disappointing set of General Election results last month and there is a sense that the party needs to develop a new sense of purpose. They add that with a small number of notable exceptions, it cannot be said that Plaid politicians are making the impact they should be. Most of the Assembly group, in particular they believe, appear to have lost the campaigning zeal that presumably brought them into the party in the first place.

I could not have put it better myself.
With all due respect, and I don't disagree with the analysis of Plaid Cymru, but isn't it a bit rich for you to be attacking them for party splits when on the day of the first Lib Dem-Conservative budget your Welsh parliamentary leader Roger Williams said that he would be voting against what he described as a regressive VAT increase.

Now I agree with Roger but isn't that an example of the Lib Dems split? I mean if Plaid need to grow up because their president (and MEP) and their leader (an AM) disagree what does that do for the Lib Dems when their Welsh parliamentary leader (an MP) and their party leader (an MP) cant agree when sitting in the same chamber?
I don't disagree with you on Roger, you will note that I have not commented on his view, largely because I got the impression that he misspoke on the Politics Show and did not intend to couch his view on VAT in that way. This seems to have been confirmed by a press release he put out this afternoon which says:

'On the increase in VAT, Roger added:

“An increase in VAT is extremely regrettable, and was to be avoided if possible, but the Government is in an extremely difficult position, and it is hard to see how else this money could have been raised.

“The action taken to reduce income tax for lower-paid workers will ensure fairness, and I am pleased that the Chancellor acknowledged that while we are all in this together, the poorest must be protected.”
Thanks for clarifying Peter.

Must say I am dissapointed. I liked the fact Roger was oppossed to this and was hopeful it was a sign of the times. Plaid maybe are deserving of criticism for being split but I think in some cases, such as here on VAT, it is better to appear split than to have done a U-Turn on a cast iron promise.
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