Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Is the dream over?

It's getting harder and harder to keep up with events. When I last posted, earlier today, (Rhodri's Last Hope), I was starting to think that Rhodri had given up on even trying to stay in government.

I said then that, if he wanted to hang on, he needed to make an offer that was good enough to break Ieuan Wyn Jones' stranglehold on decision-making within Plaid on this issue – and that the key to doing that was to firm up on the commitment to a referendum on a parliament.

Within hours, he'd done exactly that; and much, much more. Seats in the cabinet, a new language act, a review of Barnett. Mr. Jones, who has rejected all Labour advances to date, is now likely to struggle to find a way of saying 'no' which his party will accept, and has had to concede that there will be further talks with Labour.

For the time being, at least, Rhodri has pulled off what he needed to achieve. He's given those within Plaid who've been fighting a rearguard action against the coalitionistas the opportunity which they needed to re-assert democratic control over their party. It's now over to them to use that opportunity effectively.

But what about the potential fall-out?

Jones himself has invested so much time and credibility in promoting his attempt to become First Minister that his future as Leader would start to look shaky if his rainbow were to evaporate. So for him, more than anyone else, the stakes are high. Expect a lot of effort to go into a last-ditch attempt to keep the rainbow shining.

If Jones fails to save the deal, the other parties are already sharpening the knives of friendship (see Peter Black) ready to stab their former chum in the back.

As for Adam Price, Ceredig remains completely convinced that he was setting what he believed to be deliberately impossible conditions in order to be able to justify his favoured deal with the Tories; he might now find himself so hoist with his own petard that he has no option but to support what he actually said he supported!


Anonymous said...

It's not going to be easy on Adam in Westminster, opposing the very party that Plaid are in partnership with in the Senedd, especially on Iraq.

redpluralist said...

Ceredig, this so-called red-green coalition idea is both principled and pragmatic. Sure, there may be dinosaurs in Plaid and Labour who would prefer the fires of hell to such an arrangement. But it offers stable government, a referendum on Scottish-style parliamentary powers, the prospect of effective government including Plaid and a chance to embed principled pluralism. Unless, of course, some other bloggers are right that Plaid are not a centre-left party. I believe that it is and that we all need to grow up and put political tribalism aside and address the pressing issues of contemporary Wales: improved economic performance; tackling poverty and deprivation; a significantly greater degree of self-determination; a world-class health service and continuing improvement in education. Ordovicius will, no doubt, find himself laughing too much to stir up a bucket of vitriol. But the question is: should Wales be governed by a potentially unstable rainbow coalition or by a coalition of left of centre forces? I know where I stand.

Ceredig said...

Ordovicius, I agree; being in coalition with a party at one level, and in opposition to them at another, is always going to be difficult. All parties may need to get used to that - but Plaid will suffer most, I suspect, because Plaid is probably the only party which might actually expect its members in London and Cardiff to say the same thing. The others seem quite relaxed about facing in two different directions.....

Redpluralist, I agree - but only up to a point. In the public's perspective, Tories are 'right' and Labour are 'left', and that is colouring (no pun intended) people's judgement. But are the labels accurate? Richrad Wyn Jones, in Barn, is not the only one who doubts Labour's 'left' credentials, and at an intellectual level, it's difficult to argue coherently that Labour are somehow 'good' and the Tories 'bad', except based on history. One of the problems with the whole debate, however, is that some Plaid figures have (nothing new here, sadly!) believed that they could win the argument on a purely intellectual level, and ignore the history and baggage carried by other parties. Even if they go for red-green now, the Labour Party's baggage in rural Wales will come back to haunt them as much as the Tories' baggage in the Valleys of the south.

Che Grav-ara said...

Hi Ceredig,

Welcome to the blogsphere by the way.

I don’t agree with you analysis of Adam Price's demands. I can not say for certain obviously, and neither can you, but I genuinely feel that Adam Price has been honest in his blog. He has stated his preference as to what coalition he prefers but has also stated that he would support whatever coalition was approved by the party.

I think any coalition would obviously need to incorporate certain demands from plaid. You and others may see these as demanding but I think it is essential for plaid to be able to sell Red-Green to their membership that these demands are met. It is not a question of appeasing Price but appeasing the membership of Plaid Cymru.

Ordovicius, as for your point...

Agreed it is going to be difficult for Plaid members in Westminster. However, on the same not they are entering into an assembly coalition which does not necessarily make it that they must agree on everything. Ultimately Price and the Plaid parliamentary team have no say in Westminster decisions (or assembly legislation for that matter) and so I think whilst it evidentially lead to some flack it does not hinder they ability to scrutinise the government.

Ceredig said...

Che Grav-ara, Of course, none of us can be absolutely certain whether what Adam Price said was a sincere exposition of his own views, or an attempt to set conditions which would enable him to subsequently justify his support for Rainbow. The trouble is, he's clever - if he weren't, it would be so much easier to accept the superficial and obvious interpretation.

And, of course, Plaid must make demands of Labour if they are to support Rhodri continuing in power. I just get the general feeling that they thought that they'd pitched the demands at a very high level, and never ever expected Labour to offer as much as they now appear to have offered.

Che Grav-ara said...

if that is the case, I personally do not believe it is, then Plaid will find themselves in a win win. Either they will get a great deal with Labour and can impliment many of their political aims. or they will go into a rainbow governmnet and be able to dictate the aims themselves.

Ceredig said...

Che, you're probably right about it being win-win at that level. Plaid now have two different opportunities to enter government, and implement at least part of their programme. And the prize of a full Parliament is no small prize.

But what they must surely also be trying to calculate carefully is what the impact will be on their membership and support. If entering government - under whichever banner - does not translate into increased votes and seats in 2011, (and many of their members seem to doubt that it will), then what are they left with as a legacy? It is for that reason that I suspect many of their members will find the delivery of a full parliament (with Labour) marginally more attractive than to see Ieuan Wyn Jones as Plaid First Minister.