Blamerbell's latest offering discusses the options that Plaid and the Rainbow Alliance have before them. As valuable as Blamerbell's insights always are, he is a clean nosed independent observer. So here are some right wing, nationalist, partisan, snotty nosed comments on the options to add to the discussion.
The first option is to accept the status quo. Rhodri Morgan was elected First Minister on Friday, let him (or his party) rule as a minority government for the next four years. The advantage of this position is that it will keep Labour on its toes for the whole of the next Assembly and enable the rainbow parties to extract promises and compromises and even to claim some victories. The danger is that the argument that you had your chance but you bottled it would always exist in the face of any opposition to government policy; Labour could make any issue a vote of confidence issue at the time of its choosing (rather than the rainbow's choosing) and force the others to put up, shut up or form a new government.
Come the next election the rainbow parties won't be in a strong position to criticise any government policy, because they would have had the opportunity to defeat any one of them. Neither will they be able to explain how they might have done better, because they refused the chance to do better.
The second option is to topple Rhodri in a few months time, after the summer or Christmas recess maybe. The advantage of this option is that it gives the other parties the next few months to beef up the rainbow agreement, iron out any remaining difficulties and set it on a stronger footing. It would also allow the Lib Dems to have the leadership election that their constitution insists on within 12 months of an Assembly election, without allowing that election to impact upon the Rainbow Government. The difficulty with this option is that it would appear to be a cold-blooded coup, even if the vote of confidence came from a genuine sense of grievance at a Labour policy on which they will not budge, the issue would be rainbow opportunism not government incompetence.
Rhodri Morgan has said he is going to leave office in 2009. This might be the most legitimate time to change government. Make the boy who came second in the election First Minister rather than the kid chosen just by the Labour faithful. 2009 might be a bit late in the day, however, for the Alliance to have any major affect before the May 2011 election. The 2009-2010 budget will already have been set and from at least November 2010 the parties will have to distance themselves a tad in order to fight the next election independently of each other.
The fourth option, and the one which I favour, is to give Rhodri his marching orders when the Assembly reconvenes in a week's time. This will be seen as farcical, but it will be part of the farce that has been ongoing for the past three weeks, rather than the new farce that delay would cause. It will be seen as power grabbing opportunism, but it will be part and parcel of the power grabbing opportunism that some claimed was going on last week.
The fifth option, and the one that I think is most likely to happen is that Plaid will use the half term brake to go crawling back to Labour in order to do a budget all over again, and give Labour the stability pact that it craves, in exchange for less than Plaid should demand in return.