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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Plaid Cymru to jump into bed with Labour?

The suggestion by the new leader of Plaid Cymru that her party might form a broad alliance with the Labour Party so as to build a "united Welsh alternative" to the Conservatives, is curious, not least for its timing, just over a week before local elections in which the nationalists are facing up to Labour in many seats around Wales.

Leanne Wood's suggestion is even more notable for its caveats. It seems that such a pact is dependent on Welsh Labour being prepared to co-operate with Plaid Cymru, put forward progressive policies and ditch tribalism and parochialism.  So that is never then.

In the circumstances one cannot help but get the impression that she is indulging in megaphone diplomacy, trying to create the impression of seeking consensus without ever really intending to go ahead with it.

What preparation has gone into this overture? Has she already had discussions with Carwyn Jones? Is there a broad memorandum of understanding on which it can be built?  It appears unlikely. Certainly the response of the Welsh Labour spokesperson leads one to think that Leanne Wood's objective is a pipe dream.

More importantly though, where is the detail? It is easy to pretend in opposition that all problems are solveable, and that cuts are not necessary despite the dire state of the UK's finances and the threat to its economy from external forces such as those that have brought Greece to its knees.

Plaid Cymru will never have to make difficult decisions in government at a macro-economic level. They can afford to be a party of protest, as indeed the Liberal Democrats once aspired to be. However, if Plaid and their leader want to be taken seriously then surely they need to put forward a more realistic and positive alternative than joining protest marches and shouting the odds from the sidelines.

Very bad timing, considering Plaid's attempt to oust Labour from one of its strongholds in Cardiff, Ely. What message does that send to the people of Ely who want to oust Labour if you may land with a Labour council? Why vote Plaid if you intend to get Labour? in any case I don’t get the feeling that Leanne cares that much about Cardiff from reading her “tweets”, in fact I suspect that she would not weep if Neil McEvoy lost, since she tried to get him thrown out of Plaid recently
This must be unsettling news for Welsh Lib Dems who thought they had it pretty much in the bag by supporting Labour's budget last year.
I think it would be a terrible idea for both LD and PC to join in with Labour. This could be a difficult term for Labour.

I am disappointed with your words Peter, particularly as a LD'er who supports Home Rule/Federal UK. "Plaid Cymru will never have to make difficult decisions in government at a macro-economic level". Surely as a LD'er, following in the footsteps of Lloyd George you support serious financial powers for Wales?.... or am I holding the wrong party card?
There is no Lib Dem policy doc that envisages giving macro economic powers to Wales. That would be tantamount to independence. Serious financial powers yes, but separation, no.
Anon: 7.47

It seems Peter doesn't support macro-economic powers for Wales.

LibDem support for federalism seems to have evaporated as soon as they got into ministerial cars.

Look at the mess successive Conservative and Labour governments have got the UK into, with their macro-economic policies. Over one trillion pounds of debt, £16,000 for every man woman and child in the UK. Believe or not, under the ConDem coalition the debt is INCREASING. So please Peter, don't be so condescending about Plaid. They couldn't make a worse mess of running the country than the unionist parties have done.
No we do not support macro economic powers for Wales but that is NOT federalism, it is independence. The Lib Dems remain committed to Federalsm.

As for the debt, that is Labour's mess. We are trying to sort it out. What would be worse though is Plaid Cymru's policy of unlimited public spending and an independent Wales that would bankrupt us.
Labour made the mess and yes, some cutting is necessary, but you imply that the 'tough' macro-economic decisions and deficit reduction measures taken by the Coalition are the right ones, which couldn't be further from the truth. The 'too much, too fast' route the Coalition has taken is hitting those who can least afford it the hardest and is doing little to stimulate economic growth. How many more Newhams will it take to prove how socially unjust the Coalition's approach is? The cuts-driven welfare 'reform' package will drive more into poverty and place additional support on the Welsh Government and third sector who will have to pick up the mess, without additional resource to do it. God help the vulnerable when the welfare package really begin to hurt next year.

If you regard taking a stance against these and other illiberal measures as shouting the odds from the sidelines, then I'm pleased to regard myself as sidelined. The social liberal party I once supported is barely recognisable.

Turning to Leanne's bizarre positioning, her vision cannot be further removed from reality. Here in Caerphilly Plaid and Labour are bordering on bare-knuckle fighting in their quest for control. Her comments are unlikely to go down well in this part of Wales. As a political strategy it's bonkers - how can you expect to challenge Labour's dominance by presenting yourself as a socialist alternative whilst also going to the pretence of offering to form a broad coalition with them against the Tories? Her first major gaffe, I think.
Alan Doone, that is not what happened with McEvoy. A range of complainants brought a hearing against him and a ruling was made by the party's disciplinary panel. Nobody tried to "throw him out". They disciplined him accordingly. Leanne's comments quite obviously don't amount to promoting a Labour-Plaid coalition in Cardiff. Everyone knows Labour would not work with McEvoy. Nice muckraking though!
Rob, I am pleased you acknowledge that some cuts are necessary. presumably then you also accept that we need to reduce the deficit and cut back the amount we owe. The question then is how fast and how hard.

If the coalition government had not sought to do it this way then we would have gone the way of Greece, with every international speculator lining up to undermine our currency and our economy. As it is the Government has eased back on its cuts programme and spending is still rising. As a result we will not be out of the quagmire by 2015.

Would you really want to see billions of pounds of public money continue to go out on interest payments rather than on frontline services? Because that would be the outcome of your rather illdefined alternative.

As for where the cuts have fallen, I agree with you that much of it is unfortunate. However, welfare payments are the largest section of UK Government spending and it was inevitable that they would be hit. What we have tried to do is to mitigate their impact, not always successfully.

You're quoting of Newham is also unfortunate as from what I can see they had other choices but decided to make a political statement rather than implement reasonable alternative measures. Oh and by the way Councils have a fund at their disposal, which has been increased by the UK Government to help housing benefit claimants. It has been underspent in Wales for quite a few years.

Welfare reform is still focussed on helping the most disadvantaged and providing a safety net. In addition the Government is cutting tax for the low paid and taking millions out of tax altogether. As a social liberal myself, I am happy to be associated with that objective.
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