Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Rhodri's Last Hope

The rejection by Ieuan Wyn Jones of Rhodri Morgan's latest proposals was entirely predictable. Jones has decided – he may possibly even have decided a year or more ago – that he wants to be First Minister, and he is prepared to join forces with the Tories to achieve that. With only half a chance, he will reject any and every offer from Labour.

But to what extent does his rejection reflect the views of his party? Given that his party had little or no input to the rejection, it's hard to say. His group in the Assembly seem to be supine, not even getting the chance to discuss his responses to Labour, whilst the party's National Executive seems to be sitting powerlessly on the sidelines. Nick Bourne and Mike German probably had more influence on the 'Plaid' response than did anyone in Plaid itself – a view seemingly confirmed by Vaughan Roderick's latest blog.

If Rhodri Morgan actually wants to save his skin – and some are starting to seriously doubt whether he does – he needs to make the sort of offer which will encourage members of Plaid Cymru to start participating in events, rather than being mere bystanders.

What would such an offer look like? Well, for many in Plaid the attraction of having a Plaid First Minister is a seriously big prize – but the attraction of having a full Parliament by 2011 is an even bigger one. The problem with what Rhodri has said so far is that his proposals seem so unenthusiastic and half-hearted; and Plaid members have a deep, and well-founded, distrust of Labour over all matters constitutional.

If Rhodri wants Plaid to break Ieaun Wyn's stranglehold over the party's responses, he needs to be promising a referendum before 2011, and committing his government and party to campaign for a 'yes' vote. And he needs to make the statement before Plaid's National Executive meet on Saturday if he wants to strengthen the hand of Plaid members who oppose the coalition. Will he do that? More importantly, does he have the authority within his party to be able to do that?

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