The return of two party politics

Problem is, they're both Plaid Cymru.

The decision, yesterday, of the party's assembly group to stop negotiating with Labour and take Wales within touching distance of a rainbow coalition government was far from unanimous. After hours of debate, four women remained unconvinced. They will now make the case for rejecting a deal with the Tories and the Lib Dems in the run up to Saturday's key vote of the National Council, which must authorise any potential alliance.

Helen Mary Jones, Leanne Wood, Bethan Jenkins and Nerys Evans form a feisty female quartet, intent on spilling what they consider to be a rapidly diminishing pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There are two major sticking points.

Firstly, they say: "We fought this election on a platform to deliver a proper Parliament for our nation. A deal with the Conservatives would undermine the chance of delivering that goal."

There's no reference here to Tories actively blocking plans for further devolution. I don't believe they are. Rather, the obstacle to delivering a proper Parliament is the Labour party. They are the ones with the ability to block such a move in Wales and in Westminster. Only a deal with Labour could have made sure that a vote on further powers would make it past the first hurdle.

And yet, we've been led to believe that Labour fell short of offering such a guarantee. Why, then, do the dissenting foursome consider this just cause to vote against a rainbow coalition? Did they wonder if Rhodri was ever pushed far enough? And did they believe there was still time to push him further?

Secondly, they say: "There is a clash of values and principles between Plaid and the Conservatives. That is why we believe an arrangement between us would be unsustainable in the long-run and not deliver the stable government for which we all strive."

It can't be the language issue. It can't be the devolution issue. It can't even be PR in local government. The Tories are already much closer to Plaid than Labour in all these areas. It must, therefore, come down to ideology - tantamount to saying Plaid and the Tories could never work together.

And that's perfectly understandable. After all, it's what almost everyone thought just six months ago. But that wasn't the message of the election campaign. Plaid won 15 seats by saying 'Kick Labour into touch and we'll rustle up something better'.

So which of the much-promoted 7 4 07 is causing such an almighty 'clash of values and principles between Plaid and the Conservatives'?

I'd be surprised if the Tories would veto any of them (except free laptops for journalists - that was ridiculous). Because this isn't an argument about policies - at least the ones put forward in the manifesto. It is, rather, an argument about the social fabric of the people in the constituencies these dissenting AMs represent. The people who vote for Leanne Wood don't teeter pensively above the Conservative box before casting their vote in favour of socialism. If they have to think twice, they'll think about what Labour's done for them recently.

Both the rainbowistas and the rebels want to see Plaid gain a foothold in the valleys to truly challenge Labour as the party of Wales. The former want to do it from government with the help of the Tories. The latter believe Plaid could deliver a winning lottery ticket to every door and still be tarnished by such an association.

So, those four brave women will now attempt in earnest to convince the National Council. They are, in effect, campaigning for a minority Labour government. And if the vote goes their way, Labour would be in the driving seat again. Can Welsh politics really get any weirder?

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posted by Blamerbell @ 12:46 am,


At 1:35 am, Anonymous johnny foreigner said...

Why am I somewhat surprised?

Am I to understand that these four ladies are the only Members of Plaid who have the cojones to refuse to prostitute their political pricipals for a taste of power?

If this be the case? I salute you Ladies in spite of my fervent opposition to your political ideals.

I daresay Ieuan and his pals are a little miffed at this interesting development. So near but yet so far.

To the rest of Plaid I say: Are you really prepared to put Tory hands back on the levers? You are just undoing years of hard work.

Have you no principals? Check your Y fronts boys, or girls, you may have lost something.

Your principled pal.


At 2:38 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You live in my neck of the woods!!

Yes, Plaid Cymru's own "Gang of Four"

At 3:08 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has come as no suprise that your sister bramerbell as well as the useless nerys evans have sided with their political role models leanne wood and HMJ!

Their public statement will only serve to undermine the credibility and standing of the Plaid Cymru group in the Assembly and make them the laughing stock of the 3rd assembly!

And what exactly is their opposition to a PLAID lead coalition, yes PLAID LEAD COALITION!!!!!! NOT TORY!!!!!

As you point out the tories will agree to PR in local government, to a new language act as well as strengthening the assembly's powers! What more would Plaid want? And Plaid would also be in charge of all key public services and could choose to sack any tory ministers who did not comply with Plaid's agenda!

Today's tory party has little resemblance to Thatcher's party in the 1980s! The very fact that Nick Bourne and co are contemplating forming a coalition with Plaid is testament to how much that party has moved to the centre ground and "welshified" its image!

And let it also be known to die hard socialists such as Bethan and Leanne that Labour, yes Labour, a so called socialist party closed more fucking pits than the tories ever did!

And let they also know that socialism, as Tony Blaid has proved, is completely unelectable! Its high time that the likes of Leanne and Bethan were ditches, as was the party's socialist doctrine, and the party advocated progressive centrist ideals.

The rainbow coalition represents the best chance of forming a non-labour alternative government and of implementing the progressive policies of Plaid Cymru.

Turn your backs on your petty student politics background and endrose the triple crown for the greater good of the Welsh nation!

At 4:37 am, Anonymous johnny foreigner said...


You really should realise that rainbows have a remarkably short life and contain little substance.

They have few purposes apart from fooling people that there may be a crock of political gold at the end of it.

This unholy alliance of unprincipled, opportunist and self interested trough snouters just give Politics a bad name.

Hardly the type of people to ones trust in.

Just a mish-mash of disparate ideas none of which could claim to be underpinned with principals.

Political whores, the lot of 'em.

Your prescient pal.


At 6:50 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's true that going into coalition with the Tories will ensure that Plaid are hammered in the former industrial areas. They will remain Plaid Cymraeg for a generation now and can forget about the Valleys. But on the plus side, they've just proved you don't have to actually win an AMS election in order to select the first minister and form the government. Why shouldn't Plaid simply continue to run Wales as the second-largest party ad infinitum?

At 8:06 am, Blogger Lyndon said...

Helen Mary Jones should be ashamed of herself, having socialist principles at her age. Grow up woman. Also the Valleys are changing economically and demographically. The old monolithic Labour working class vote won't survive another generation, so why should Plaid chase after it?

At 8:14 am, Anonymous mildred said...

I'm fed up of hearing the old line that politicians shouldn't be 'power grabbing'. Isn't that the whole F-ing point? In order to get your policies into action you have to be in power, or at least have leverage. So surely in order to serve us well politicians ought to strive for power. Wake up boys and stop your idealistic mumbling.

Equally isn't it about time that Jonny read some of the tories' policies? Or looked at the voting numbers? The Conservatives got more votes than plaid and certainly aren't the same party they used to be. Maybe it's time Wales opened its mind beyond the 'Tories must be bad' mantra. Or is that too much to ask?

At 8:16 am, Blogger Alex Williams said...

It could get weirder - Rhodri could start talks with the "Plaid 4" + Trish Law. You heard it here first.


At 8:29 am, Anonymous Daran said...

"The Conservatives got more votes than plaid and certainly aren't the same party they used to be. "

Yes they did - on the regional list, but Plaid got more in the constituencies.

And anyone who thinks the Conservative Party isn't saying different things now compared to the past should just compare their 1999 and 2007 manifestos. One is an angry reaction to devolution, the other is a bold document that has paved the way for the discussions that are now happening.

"Can Welsh politics really get any weirder?"

Yes, and it will.

On a personal level, I feel quite sorry for Rhodri at the moment. It's not a very nice situation for him (understatement). Though I'm sure by saying that I'll be accused of being a Labour spin doctor again...

Last night was a huge blow to Welsh Labour, who are now negotiating with nobody on Wales’ future. What a turnaround.

The direction of travel is now seemingly quite clear. The rainbow is coming - providing the vital grassroots sign up. Every day that passes, the rainbow shines ever more clearly. Even BBC network is now covering it...

However, anyone who thinks Plaid is taking this step lightly and without having given it full consideration is mistaken. For many key Plaid people this has been an agonising choice. And I'm not just referring to the four who have rejected the deal.

As the Liberal Democrats showed and Plaid is now also demonstrating, we certainly have transparency and openness in the new Welsh politics. We have recently been permitted to peep at the very heart of party deliberations. That's a good thing. It's only through honest debate and discussion that the rainbow allies can convince themselves, their party and then the rest of us that this massive gamble is the right one. Dissent isn't weakness, it's a sign of political maturity.

At 8:44 am, Anonymous dave rodway said...

Johnny - principles, not Principals.
ASs for the Tories, I'm not sure they're as bad as they were, and theyre certainly no different in most respects from NuLab. Today NuLab admits it will miss its poverty targets. It has already misse dits child poverty targets. Inequality grows, despite re-calculating 'poverty' definitions to make it look like they've actually 'taken people out of' poverty. They've missed their environmental targets. They've just voted to exempt themselves from the Freedom of Infoimation Act. They lied abotu war, and another 25 people have just been killed in Iraq, people - civilians - that the UK and US can;t even be arsed to count ('not a priority' as our defence minister so charmingly put it). Blair gets ready to fill his boots with post-power loot, while his minions make the world safe for the very, very rich. Then take whacking great donations from them.
I'm not sure any of us have anythgin to learn from any longer from Labour. While I am sorry about that, I can move on, and have decided to give Plaid a go. It's a redeployment of my political faith towards another party. Not sure if that makes me a 'nat' or not according to your NuLab stooges, but it sure as shit means I am looking elsewhere than Labour for a progresive agenda. Perhaps I 'm wrong. Then again, I was wrong about Labour being a force for good for the last 10 years, so I'm prepared to risk it.
It's the same old guff about 'right wing' nats and 'left' Labour that is obvious bollocks, and shows peopel can't think beyond colour schemes.

At 8:53 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And yet, we've been led to believe that Labour fell short of offering such a guarantee.

that is wrong.

At 8:58 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with previous Anon.

The 4 Plaid members have a real unfounded problem with the Tories in Wales. Cant they see the party has changed and is open to new ideas!?

Simply to refer back to the Thatcher years in narrow minded and doesnt take into account the numerous positive aspects involved with joining the Tories in power.

It is a fact that more mines closed under Labour!!

Its right that the Plaid agenda for the election was not drastically different from the Tory one, appart from the bizzare laptop pledge.

Maybe the Tories can teach Plaid something about formulating fully costed elections pledges and maybe plaid can make the Tories more Welshness.

Ideal situation really, appart from where exactly do the Liberals fit into this, appart from securing a youth vote and pleasing the anti war lobby, im still not 100% sure what the liberals bring to this deal.

At 9:11 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The gang of four really show a level of political immaturity which does smack of Private Eye's famous Dave Spart. The simple choice is between a minority Labour governent supported either by Plaid or the Lib Dems or a coalition of the non labour parties. For Plaid all Labour could offer is an early referendum. There is no guarantee that this would lead to the Welsh people voting for more powers. In fact the last 8 years and the events of the past 3 weeks could lead to the silent majority saying that a enough is enough and reject any further change. Daran Hill is right to argue that this represents a chance for Welsh politics to mature. The real aim of all politicains should be to increase the credibility of the assembly with the Welsh electorate particularly with those who have not bothered to vote in the past. Opposition if it is handled properly could be the making of the Labour party. It might even encourage the party to look at policies for the future rather than still living in a mythical past where every Welsh man or women was a socialist who couldn't wait to discuss the finer points of dialetical materialism after a hard day's graft. The party also needs to reinvigorate its moribund organisation in many parts of Wales.Labour needs to ask why its share of the vote fell in 39 out of the 40 constiuencies.In short it needs to become a party ready to look at the challenges facing Wales in the 21st century not the beginning of the 20th and produce credible policies to face those challenges.

At 9:14 am, Blogger dowlais twp said...

The "Plaid4" shoud see the light at the end of the tunnel and take the coalition and run with it, we will have another election in 18 months or so once the infighting starts amongst the coalition and Labour can sit back and take the moral highground.

Coalitions are the future of Welsh politics and short term Assemblies.

At 9:51 am, Blogger Pads said...

The next elections are in 11 months time.

At 9:52 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't feel sorry for Rhodri. he screwed up the negotiations big time. He and his team insulted the Lib Dems in public and then were surprised that they weren't interested? Pathetic.

Rhodri has to go. He's past it. Ansd he can take Jane Hutt with him.

At 10:04 am, Blogger Rhys Llwyd said...

Regarding "the 4 speaking" to Rhodri. Helen Mary Could but Bethan, Leanne and Nerys would loose their seats because they are Plaid Regional Seats not their own constituency seats.

Will Bethan and Nerys at their tendear age give up a slary of £50,000+ over this 'principle' - i think not.

At 10:31 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Regarding "the 4 speaking" to Rhodri. Helen Mary Could but Bethan, Leanne and Nerys would loose their seats because they are Plaid Regional Seats not their own constituency seats."

Actually, they would not lose their seats if they chose not to stay with/support Plaid. There's a loophole in the legislation but there is a very strong argument for them to stand down if they did leave the group and needless to say, they would be out by the end of their term. However, there is no suggestion that they would do this anyway.

As far as I can tell, they have come out against the deal in public because of certain senior Plaid figures supporting the deal in the media this week. If these senior people had kept their traps shut and debated the point in National Council, then there would be less fall-out now.

What is noticeable is the number of Labour supporters being asked by their party to ring up Plaid offices, claim to be first time supporters and stating their disgust. I hope that Plaid don't fall for this Labour scam and have an objective debate on Saturday, based on the facts. From my research, as many if not more Plaid members (and not unknown cold callers) are ringing Plaid offices calling on their AMs not to go to bed with Labour-including in the Labour donkey areas.

At 10:39 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of the 2 meetings on Saturday, the Libs are more likely to kick the deal into touch than the Nats. A combination of them wanting to get rid of German and not wanting to lose their Councils next year could swing it.

They really are the lowest of the low when it comes to Welsh politics. If they were interested in the future of Wales, then they will have to take one side as the smallest party.

As for Peter Black, he is now campaigning for no coaliton whatsoever which means that his 'sincere' call for saving Morristion Nuerosurgery was complete claptrap.

At 10:46 am, Anonymous Daran said...

"Actually, they would not lose their seats if they chose not to stay with/support Plaid. There's a loophole in the legislation."

Rod Richards is the case in point. He left the Conservatives, and continued as an independent.

Surely it won't come to that though? Several Labour members were publicly opposed to their coalition with the Liberal Democrats in 2000-03 and nobody left anything (apart from a couple of Cabinet exits).

I'd be interested to know what the Plaid group rules say on such a scenario, though...

At 10:50 am, Blogger Blamerbell said...

My understanding is that there's absolutely no chance of the group of four leaving the party. They've all made it clear that they will accept the decision of the National Council and devote themselves fully to the majority decision.

At 11:05 am, Blogger ianjamesjohnson said...

It seems to me that this is a split in Plaid between ideologists and pragmatists, and one that will almost certainly be played out on Saturday in the National Council meeting.

The people of Wales, and, more importantly, party activitists, are not used to the idea of coalition politics - we want to win a majority, rather than give up some of the prize to another party. If I loved ANY party that much, I'm not sure I'd have been slogging my guts out for a month trying to take votes off them!

In the current climate of Welsh politics, the Gang of 4 are effectively arguing that Plaid should be a party of continuous opposition and not a party of government. That, after all, is the logical political conclusion of a refusal to work with one of the other major parties.

Personally, UKIP and the BNP are beyond the pale, the Conservatives aren't - they're the ones putting Plaid in power!

At 11:14 am, Blogger ianjamesjohnson said...

Leanne Wood AM: We fought this election on a platform to deliver a proper Parliament for our nation.

As one of your constituents, Leanne, could I also point out that you fought it to deliver an All Wales Energy Plan, Affordable Childcare, Repayment of Student Fees, Grants to Help 1st Time Homebuyers, Business Tax Cuts, Community-based NHS and something about Laptops.

I'd rather that these were delivered by a Plaid government than forgotten about and ignored by Labour.

At 12:30 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here we go.
Maybe some will think this quartet did the honourable but it was as destructive as the campaign by the Huw Lewis/Leighton Andrews gang.

Maybe they are linked, maybe not, but it would be interesting to get to the truth out in public. As AMs, not councillors, they really need to get their heads together and research what their job is now. Any new government will have to work with other parties. AMs wil need to work harder to justify their salary and use public platform to educate their electorate. There is a horrible image here which does not do justice to any of us women who want credibility in public office. Nothing feisty in this lot, at this stage of the negotiations this is inappropriate.

At 12:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blamerbell said...
..My understanding is that there's absolutely no chance of the group of four leaving the party. ..

But they have done themselves harm on the national level. It was a very stupid thing to do for a bit of attention seeking. This behaviour may have been acceptable in the last assembly but we expect better from now on.

At 12:40 pm, Blogger Blamerbell said...

I'm not so sure that they have.

Plaid Cymru is a very broad church in any case. At least they have been open about their misgivings and that may provide some comfort to the very significant proportion of the party's grass roots that couldn't fathom a deal with the Tories.

The important thing is that they're disciplined enough to devote themselves to making the rainbow coalition work if and when it becomes reality.

That would be a true sign of political maturity.

At 12:47 pm, Blogger ianjamesjohnson said...

Agreed (BB 12:40).

By making it clear that there is a plurality of views around the Plaid table, it becomes easier to have an open debate at National Council, rather than give the impression that it's being railroaded through, as might otherwise have been suspected by party activists.

As Daran wrote earlier, we are being allowed to see into the heart of the negotiations - a crucial element in their acceptance both by the political anoraks such as ourselves and the wider public.

At 1:05 pm, Blogger Guto said...

The problem people have with the Gang of Four is not their position but their tactics.

On Saturday the whole National Council is there to talk to, why the need to talk through the BBC? Their concerns and opposition could have been made openly at the Council, every voting member would be there to listen. Who were they really trying to talk to last night - members of the council, or Valley voters?

Debate is essential, Saturday should hear both sides and everyones opinion. It's their decision to argue through the media that has annoyed so many Plaid members.

At 1:31 pm, Anonymous Daran said...

From Bethan Jenkins' own blog: "I will respect the decisions made during such discussions, and abide by the decision of those democratic processes."

Expect that applies to all 4 of them, so the "Will they be chucked out?" thread is a red herring.

Mr B of course made the same point earlier.

At 1:41 pm, Blogger Geraint said...

Guto, surely in a democracy members of a political party have a right to voice their opinion, more so now in the era of spin and media managerment then ever before.
Besides which a minority Labour government would be disasterous for Labour in 2011, which is why I am starting to warm to the Rainbow coalition idea.

At least that way Welsh Labour will have the opportunity to make the changes that it has to make to survive in the devovled Wales.

At 2:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you sure this isn't part of the negotiation tactics - giving themselves some wriggle room for the next election

Plaid Cymru can say yes we did a deal with the Tories but 4 of our AM's also opposed the moves

At 2:51 pm, Blogger Geraint said...

Surely after the next Assembly elections, all bets are off and we will go through all this again, although hopefully with a different outcome.

At 3:06 pm, Anonymous johnny foreigner said...

dave rodway said...
Johnny - principles, not Principals.

Point taken Dave. It was rather late and I stand corrected....but noticed the following.....

ASs for the Tories,
Freedom of Infoimation Act
abotu war

.....all from your cogent and earnest post.

If this is to develop into a proof reading contest?.........Game ON.

Personally, I prefer the old maxims.....To err is human, to forgive, divine.....and something about those without sin casting the first stone.

If I went through this blog correcting typos. and spelling errors I would rarely sleep.

Lighten up Dave.


As a fellow musician, albeit from the 'You hum it, I'll play it' School of Music I would suggest the following as a suitable Anthem for this proposed Coalition.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true

Some day I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemondrops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can't I?
Some day I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemondrops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can't I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?

It says it all really.

As a note of CAUTION I would respectfully remind readers of the colour of the birds in the aforementioned.

You have been warned.

Your multi-coloured pal.



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