On the verge of power or the brink of despair?

After two years waiting, I have finally watched City of the Lost Children. And I didn't understand a minute of it.

An awful lot of Welsh people probably feel the same way. We went to the polls almost three weeks ago and yet most voters will still be none the wiser as to what's going on.

The film is a sort of dystopian fantasy in which people pull out each other's eyeballs and eat them. Not dissimilar, some Plaid members would say, to life under a rainbow coalition.

By the end of play today, it should be almost certain who'll be forming a government as the next first minister of Wales. Barring a miracle, it'll be Ieuan Wyn Jones.

This will make some Plaid supporters very very cross. Back in December I wrote that "most Plaid AMs would rather cut off their right leg, put it in a mincer and eat it between two slices of certain death than go into coalition with the Tories."

It's still true, of course, it's just that some of them now think that's a price worth paying.

But I wrote those words long before an election campaign which saw Plaid define every inch of themselves as the party that wasn't Labour. While there was hardly an ill word said about the Tories, Plaid spent an awful lot of money telling us to 'Kick Labour into touch' or that Wales was 'Going nowhere fast under Labour'.

The main issue was the health service and the mess Labour was said to be making of it. The buzzword was change. Plaid produced a manifesto full of grinning kids out of the Adams catalogue and everyone thought it was terribly professional. We're ready for government, they hollered. Only if you team up with the Tories, the media hollered tirelessly back.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that this is exactly what looks set to happen. The people who are muttering about setting up a breakaway party or cancelling their membership must have spent the entire election campaign on another planet (or at least somewhere east of Shrewsbury). It's about as much of a shock as a Catherine Tate punchline.

The first few weeks will be critical. Plaid must present a united front and start looking like a party capable of governing. There will be a lot of scepticism at first, especially in South Wales where people will be wondering why on earth that lovely old lady who used to be on the council isn't in government anymore.

And if Plaid's own members aren't even behind them, what hope for the valleys man who hates the fact that the automated voice in the post office has to repeat everything in Welsh?

Government is for grown ups. And Plaid will need to learn fast if they aren't going to look like the lost children of Cardiff Bay.

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Blamerbell @ 1:12 am,

48 Comments:

At 1:26 am, Blogger SimonW said...

Something Plaid will need to remember; devolution is for the People of Wales not just for those regarded as Welsh

 
At 2:05 am, Blogger Alwyn ap Huw said...

Simon W - Plaid has always defined those it regards as Welsh as the people of Wales (and translated Plaid Cymru as the Party of Wales rather than the more pedantically correct Welsh Party).

Blamerbell - Adam has no more to do with Adams than he has to do with Price Right.

The idea that a Plaid-Tory coalition was inevitable, was not a situation created by Plaid or the Tories as you imply, but one of Labour's own making. How often did we hear Labour politicians say that the choice was between a Labour majority and a Rag-Bag coallition?

People voted - Rag Bags won

 
At 2:35 am, Blogger Geraint said...

Ingoring the same old claptrap from people like Alwyn ap Huw.

It would be interesting to see how Plaid make the move as a party of oppisition and would "pressure group" to a party of government, and if they can do that, I believe that they probably can, however will it be more the govenrment that Plaid would like to see, or more along the lines of wha tthe Tories and Lib Dems want is a different matter.

The best solution for Wales was, in my opinion, a formal Plaid-Labour coalition, which would have been great for devolution, great for social justice and great for the Welsh people. Sadly forces within the Welsh Labour Party prevented that from happening.

 
At 6:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

of course, most of us Tories regard a coalition with plaid as unacceptable. the exception being bourne.

 
At 7:33 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is all this b****cks about 'forces in Welsh Labour? Are the same sort who refers to the 'Labour machine'?

welsh labour has 6 staff in wales- probably less than the other parties-in short they are skint.

the problem with labour going in with plaid is that labour party members, and elected members have a general dislike for nationalism.

and many of those people are gradually warming to the idea of being in opposition. lets see what a mess this rag bag coalition make of things.

 
At 8:13 am, Blogger The Badger said...

"We went to the polls almost two weeks ago".

The excitement is obviously proving too much for you, Ciaran - you've missed a week of your life -it really is three weeks this Thursday.

 
At 8:45 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Labour in opposition in the assembly will not make the mistakes that have occurred in the councils where the Lib Dems took over in 2004 . In those councils the Labour opposition has virtally gone to sleep. This will not happen in the assembly. Setting up the rainbow coalition and handing out the portfolios is the easy bit. The hard bit will start when they start to discuss the budget with the civil servants.The Treasury will not budge on the Barnett formula because of its effect on Scotland. A referendum on more powers is also a two edged sword with no cetainty of a 'yes' result. The simple fact is that no one knows how the thousands who don't vote in assembly elections will react. As for PR in local government it will be interesting to see how Labour MPs deal with this one. Plaid is really a coalition between its rural membership and the anti Labour establishment wing in the valley. It will be interesting to see what happens to this coaltion as the Tories start to show their true colours in the ministeries they will control. The real tragedy is there is more that unites most Plaid and Labour members than divides them in the valleys. There is a progressive majority in Wales if only people would forget the past and the personality issues and concentrate on developing new radical policies for an ever changing world.

 
At 9:27 am, Blogger Penddu said...

Rhodri has asked for an opinion poll on the various options - Why not let the AMs have a free vote on the various options - I think that 3/4 of Labour AMs would happily let Plaid join them.

Why not let the trouble making $hits like Huw Lewis & Leighton Andrews sit with the opposition, and let the rest get on with running Wales.

 
At 9:29 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A real opportunity has been missed here for Labour and Plaid to work together. The damage was done during the campaign, with a combination of Labour negativity and Hain's 'no agreement with Plaid' statements writing off any chances of a red/green future.

The main decision will not be made by 2pm today or by the Presiding Officer's deadline but by Plaid's National Council. A true representation of their membership will speak on Saturday and it's a shame that Labour cannot afford the same voice to their members.

 
At 9:37 am, Anonymous LC said...

anon 0845hrs. i despise Labour and what they have done to Wales for the last 80 years but i do find your comments refreshing.

I do think that Plaid could do well governing Wales but the problem will be in 4 years time.

Governments are rarely popular but
Labour could go out and slay everybodies first born and still count on their core vote. The other Parties core vote is much smaller so when the rainbow government makes tough decisions (which they will have to do) they will be punished in the polls.

This coalition horse trading was bound to happen and i am glad its started now. People have to accept that coalition politics is different and we may (even me) have to put aside historical hatreds to for the good of the country.

LC

 
At 9:40 am, Blogger ianjamesjohnson said...

Pre-election, I think most people had resigned themselves to a Labour-Lib Dem government.

Now that this doesn't seem to be happening, there is the opportunity to break Labour's stranglehold on power in Wales.

It's an opportunity that might not reappear in four years time whatever the outcome of the coalition discussions this week.

It's only expected that party politics and point scoring is the prime concern of many people on here, but wouldn't it be nice to look beyond that?

A rainbow coalition would be a big and brave step for all three opposition parties (and Labour as well, for that matter), but if it worked it might well change the face of Wales forever.

To me, that's a legacy worthy of the political risk.

If my party can do a deal that represents our core interests and it's the best on the table for Wales, then I'll be voting for it.

 
At 10:01 am, Blogger Blamerbell said...

badger, my apologies. I must have lost a week of my life somewhere along the line.

Alwyn, I'm afraid I disagree. It was far from inevitable, of course, but neither was it much of a surprise. Ieuan Wyn Jones made sure of that.

As for the other comments about a Plaid-Labour deal, with just two years left at the helm, Rhodri could only offer what his party would back up. I'm guessing a lot of them didn't want to give Plaid free hand to consolidate over the next assembly term.

 
At 10:36 am, Blogger gethin said...

An interesting post on Vaughan R's Welsh-language blog this morning, suggesting that he thinks a) Plaid are on the verge of pulling out of talks with Labour (earlier than the 2pm deadline?) and that the Lib Dem AMs could be forced by their members not to jopin any sort of coalition. According to Vaughan, the likely scenario then would be that both Labour and Plaid would nominate a First Minister. Trish Law would apparently have the 'casting' vote: if she abstained, IWJ would become First Minister.

My question: is this really possible?

PS Just looked at his blod again and for some reason the post has been retracted - let's see whether it pops back up again....

 
At 10:42 am, Blogger gethin said...

Vaughan R's post is back, by the way. As far as I can make out, unammended.

 
At 10:51 am, Blogger Blamerbell said...

It would be extremely difficult for Plaid to put IWJ forward with only Tory support.


Trish Law - Kingmaker. Now, nobody predicted that:)

 
At 10:52 am, Blogger gethin said...

Hold on... there's an even more interesting bit on the end (which I may have missed on first reading)which says that should Rhodri persuade Trish Law to vote for him, it would be a draw...

Deep waters indeed...

Discuss!

 
At 10:57 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trish Law made clear on election night that she would work with labour if it camke down to it. Which rather raises the question, what's teh point of Trish Law?

I can't see Plaid going for a minority admin with just them and the Tories either. They need the Libs in there to dilute the perceived nastiness a bit.

 
At 11:07 am, Anonymous little bobby gee said...

Trish Law - Kingmaker? Sounds like a shit movie 'based on real events'. As long as she sits next to whoever she's meant to be voting with, she'll be fine. As long as it's not at the end of plenary on a Tuesday, in which case she'll be playing bingo with her pals back home.

 
At 11:13 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can tell how much pain all this is causing in the Nationalist Party by reading this blog.

Apparently Huw Lewis has forced Whinger to talk to the Tories. Apparently Whinger has been run by Huw as a battery operated corpse for a number of years now and the man from Merthyr has finally been able to execute his "discreduit the Nats for all time" plan.

Labour will never go into coalition with or sign an agreement with the Nats. Labour doesn't like the Nats because they are, at heart, an ethnic (Welsh language) pressure group, not a party of social progress.

 
At 11:17 am, Blogger SimonW said...

If Trish Law voted for Rhodri and it's a draw then they all cast their votes again. Have a look at the Standing orders for the 3rd assembly,

section 4.2.
(part quote)
If two Members have
been nominated, the Presiding Officer must declare the candidate
who received the greater number of votes cast to be the nominee. If
there is an equality of votes between the two candidates a further
vote by roll call must take place.


They could be there voting for ever!

 
At 11:23 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Labour doesn't like the Nats because they are, at heart, an ethnic (Welsh language) pressure group, not a party of social progress."

I'm Plaid, I don't speak Welsh and my dad's a scouser. Get your head out of your rear end-you plonker.

 
At 11:31 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Labour doesn't like the Nats because they are, at heart, an ethnic (Welsh language) pressure group, not a party of social progress."

I'm Plaid, I don't speak Welsh and my dad's a scouser. Get your head out of your rear end-you plonker."

While your politics is clearly a bit rubbish, sincere congratulations on the use of the word 'plonker'. Refreshing change from the recent outbreak on this blog of 'wankers', 'tossers', 'arseholes' and even worse.

 
At 11:33 am, Blogger LabourMark said...

did any one else hear the panic and the worry in IWJ voice last night as he said aboutt he 2pm deadline.

i think he himslef does not want to go to bed with the tories as he knows what trouble it would be.

 
At 11:36 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geraint said...
" Sadly forces within the Welsh Labour Party prevented that from happening. "

Labour will have to look into that seriously in their next conference. It's not the first time that there have been members who are out of sync and digging their heels on national matters. It has always led to disaster for Labour.
Kinnock was the most recent high profile and he brought the national party down to the gutter. Beware ambitious politicians with ambitious wifey. Not a good recipe for working for the good of the whole.

 
At 11:53 am, Anonymous Daran said...

"If Trish Law voted for Rhodri and it's a draw then they all cast their votes again. Have a look at the Standing orders for the 3rd assembly,
section 4.2.
(part quote)
If two Members have
been nominated, the Presiding Officer must declare the candidate
who received the greater number of votes cast to be the nominee. If
there is an equality of votes between the two candidates a further
vote by roll call must take place.
They could be there voting for ever!"

The Assembly seems to be governed by the power of one - the single member holds sway. Our electoral system creates that narrowness.

Look back to the last Assembly, balanced on a knife edge and Peter Law had the power to make or break Labour policy.

Look at the election. If the Lib Dems had won one more seat (probably the list place in South Wales Central they came close to getting) then that could have brought the momentum to avoid the "little local difficulties" of the past few weeks. Nothing is of course definite, but that scenario could have led to a Lib-Lab coalition - while at the same time opening the Conservatives to internal problems over their own inability to gain ground and extra seats on May 3rd.

And now the maths sinks home, we have the power of one once more. Labour = 26, Plaid and Cons = 27, Trish Law = 1 (with the Liberal Democrats presumably not voting either way?). Though not likely, the perpetual votes for First Minister scenario is a theoretical and practical possibility if the paving circumstances are correct. Deadlock - until someone presses the wrong button ;)

"Apparently Huw Lewis has forced Whinger to talk to the Tories. Apparently Whinger has been run by Huw as a battery operated corpse for a number of years now and the man from Merthyr has finally been able to execute his "discredit the Nats for all time" plan."

An exceptionally Machiavellian analysis. But some in Labour do believe that by contemplating open alliance with the Conservatives (even if the talks fail) that Plaid have crossed the rubicon and can be openly attacked for their dalliance.

If the Rainbow Express does derail, then Labour will be more confident even as a minority government than they would have been otherwise. Can Plaid or the Lib Dems risk that happening now that the train is so far down the track?

 
At 11:58 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If the Rainbow Express does derail, then Labour will be more confident even as a minority government than they would have been otherwise. Can Plaid or the Lib Dems risk that happening now that the train is so far down the track?"

At least their members will decide on Saturday; something that Labour and the Tories would never allow.

 
At 12:09 pm, Blogger SimonW said...

Daran,

Unfortunately I don't think people could rely on Brian Gibbons pressing the wrong button since the vote is stated to be by roll call. This is possibly to avoid the much loved voting mistakes

 
At 12:19 pm, Blogger Penddu said...

Actually, have Labour just missed another trick - the PO can not vote, but neither can the DPO.

Last year it was only the PO who was neutral, which would have given Labour & Plaid/Con the same number of votes

 
At 12:19 pm, Anonymous Daran said...

Roll call - fair point. I should pay more attention to what I post, especially as I tend to charge for such observations :(

And I don't think for a moment Dr Gibbons would have pressed the wrong button again. He wasn't the only member to have done so in the past remember.

While I'm on that thread, can anybody verify or deny the old urban myth that there are Prayers in the Scottish Parliament because some members pressed the wrong buttons? Someone once told me that over a pint, and I've always wondered if there was any truth in it.

 
At 12:26 pm, Blogger SimonW said...

Dr Gibbons was the first name that came to mind, there are of course others who voted incorrectly by mistake or blamed the computer or even forgot to vote.

 
At 12:29 pm, Blogger bethan said...

we've just received a new document from Labour, so things are not over yet

 
At 12:31 pm, Blogger Pads said...

If the LibDems vote no on Saturday, wouldn't Plaid's National Council have to vote again on a Plaid/Tory coalition? And wouldn't they say no?

 
At 12:49 pm, Blogger dowlais twp said...

IWJ made a great fuss during the election campaign that he / plaid would not take part in a Tory led coalition. Is it not cynical that Plaid and the Tories are talking towrds a rainbow coalition.

Before and during the election there was talk of a coaltion of sortsd beween various parties, so did they not have a battle plan drawn up before hand?

 
At 12:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"did any one else hear the panic and the worry in IWJ voice last night as he said aboutt he 2pm deadline."

er...no!

"You can tell how much pain all this is causing in the Nationalist Party by reading this blog."

Which nationalist party is that then?

Labour? Tories? Plaid?

 
At 1:06 pm, Anonymous dave rodway said...

So: now 'ethnicity' and 'language' are one and the same, sufficiently so for one fuckwit Anon to put one in as a synonym of the other?
Fuckittery indeed. How come the Welsh-bashers are so crap at English?

 
At 1:33 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it funny that the Nats say that the language isn't an ethnic question but as soon as somebody questions throwing even more public money down the bottomless pit of bilingualism they are "anti-Welsh", not "anti-Welsh language" or even "anti more taxes for farmers in Gwynedd", just anti-Welsh.

News for all you Nats: Rhodri will be sacked by the party long before he delivers a deal with you.

 
At 1:36 pm, Blogger gethin said...

Bethan:
"we've just received a new document from Labour, so things are not over yet "

12:29 PM

According to the Beeb, the document was 28 pages long. Plaid have postponed their meeting till later. Rhodri and IWJ are talking.

Will it be Labour/Plaid after all?

 
At 1:36 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"News for all you Nats: Rhodri will be sacked by the party long before he delivers a deal with you."


errrrrrrr...he's just delivered a 28 page proposal. So much for your predictions.

Mind you, it could be like the Labour WAG Economic Development Policy and say absolutely nothing.

 
At 1:36 pm, Anonymous Freddie Starr said...

Dave - your spelling is almost as piss-poor as your political observations. I'd learn to type before starting to mock other posters if I were you.

The goats doing okay?

 
At 1:40 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Labour offer nothing in writing for 3 weeks, get a 24 hour ultimatum from Plaid and out of the blue come up with 28 pages.

What on earht are they playing at?

 
At 1:41 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"did any one else hear the panic and the worry in IWJ voice last night as he said aboutt he 2pm deadline."

No. Never seen him panic or be rude to anyone like Labour leaders.
Dignified, honest, reliable, and a statesman. He looked in charge to me.

 
At 1:44 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Labour offer nothing in writing for 3 weeks, get a 24 hour ultimatum from Plaid and out of the blue come up with 28 pages.
What on earht are they playing at? "

They must have asked their more intelligent New Labour big brothers in London for help! lol

 
At 2:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this document is more substantial, maybe Plaid should offer the two options to National Council. Their NEC may have an opinion but has no constitutional clout. Their members have the final say and might want to see the two options before deciding.

 
At 2:34 pm, Blogger Guto said...

Dowlais twp - Before the election plaid said that they wouldn't serve under a Tory First Minister. They also said that, barring that, they would talk to all parties.

That's exactly what they're doing, and a Tory-led coalition is not on the cards - where's the cynical part?

 
At 2:44 pm, Blogger Mike Cridland said...

Let me get this one right!

Labour would go into a coalition with the Lib Dems. However with Plaid they only want their support for a minority government, is this correct?

 
At 4:05 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Cridland said...
...Let me get this one right!
Labour would go into a coalition with the Lib Dems. However with Plaid they only want their support for a minority government, is this correct? ...

Got it in one! There's not much difference between New Labour and Lib/Dems. If the Brown government does not make a miracle happen and take the party back to socialism then we could be witnessing another party amagamation in the near future.

 
At 5:30 pm, Blogger Mike Cridland said...

Actually there's not that much difference between New Labour and the New Tories.

Sounds like the 1950s again!

 
At 7:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm.. Not convinced that Plaid are that antipathetic to the Tories.

Socialism is dead, and so are the grammar schools. All that is left is political expediency and power-at-any -price shenanigans.

I am sure that many Plaid supporters enjoy fox hunting. And I am sure that many Tories think preserving the Welsh language is important.

As that great philosopher Paula Abdul once sang 'I take two steps forward, I take two steps back - it ain't fiction, just a natural fact -we come together because opp-osites attract..'

Who is going to 'make the bed' and who will 'steal the covers' will have to await the outcome of the coalition talks, unless you have any bright ideas, blamerbell..

 

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