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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Storms in teacups

From the wild and windy Blackpool coast straight into a "storm in a teacup", if the Western Mail is to be believed this morning. It seems that a mini-coup has been in the making over the summer with the objective of deposing Mike German as leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Group.

The details of this abortive conspiracy were apparently contained in an e-mail that Mike German inadvertently posted on a Liberal Democrats internet forum and which was subsequently handed over to HTV Wales. In his e-mail Mike reported:

"KW (Kirsty Williams) wants to be leader but sometime in the future - Mick (Bates) mentions 2-4 years. Mick is supporting and encouraging her. He agrees nothing will happen in the short term, until I have finished the job, but says he told her to prepare her ground with the party. I pointed out that this should mean doing good things with the party not mounting a leadership bid straight out. I pointed out the dangers to the party as a whole of doing this. He gave me a reassurance that he understood this point and that is what Kirsty should do.

So - storm in a teacup - but naivety in the extreme to think that a campaign was the way to go about it."

This may well be the case but Kirsty's reposte also needs to be noted. She told the Western Mail that "It is naive for any leader not to reflect on how they are doing in the party and how their leadership is being received by members of the party."

Lessons clearly need to be learnt on all sides not least in how to use new technology in a non-accident-prone way. More importantly, the reasons for any unrest should also be noted. There is widespread suspicion within the wider party at the much-touted rainbow coalition that will apparently take-over after the 2007 Assembly elections if Labour do not secure a majority. It is considered by many that a lot of the groundwork for such a coalition has already been done despite the fact that the Welsh Liberal Democrats Group have not discussed it at all.

Indeed I was told by one party insider in Blackpool, who assumed that I was in on the talks, that the plan was to install the current Presiding Officer as First Minister, with the leader of the largest coalition party as his Deputy. I cannot say if Dafydd Elis-Thomas is aware of that assumption as nobody has seen fit to tell me what talks have gone on between the opposition party leaders or what conclusions have been reached.

In such an atmosphere it is no wonder that things are getting fraught and that members of the party feel excluded and uneasy about what is being planned. Perhaps Kirsty is offering good advice after all. A debate now on the direction we are going in would be very welcome.
I assume you have regular meetings within your team at the Assembly Peter - will you be raising questions about these coalition 'talks'? Didn't think you were one to bite your tongue?
Read between the lines and draw your own conclusions.
We have posted about this story on our website.

Are you also considering standing as leader in the Assembly Peter? Wouldn't blame you, Mike 'cock-up' German is becoming a bit of a joke.
It would make a change from Plaid's policy, which is to make everyone a leader.
Perhaps instead of going for Assembly Group Leader Kirsty should raise her sights & go for a 'unification' challenge by standing against Lembit for the job of Welsh Lib Dem Party Leader.

Who would Peter back in that contest? I don't think we really need to ask ...
The idea of Dafydd Ellis Thomas being first minister is quite funny ...who would vote for him? Will he even be in the assembly after 2007?

All irrelevent as I understand the Lib dems will form a coalition with Labour as similar arrangements in Scotland are perceived..not least by Lord Rennard...as having helped them win seats in Scotland....but fear an announcement prior to 2007 would damage their electoral chances...
First I have heard of a Lib Dem-Labour coalition as well. From what I have heard the rainbow coalition is the one being pursued. Labour may well be counting on us coming on board again but they could be disappointed.
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