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I Nearly Binned a Political Scandal!

I was flicking through some old magazines in my overflowing rack deciding which ones to keep for future reference, and which ones to take down the recycling bank when I came across the April-May edition of Cambria.

In the magazine I found an article that I had read and forgotten about by Wales' Archdruid of political journalism Clive Betts. To be in the April-May edition the article was probably written in mid March. Betts mentions the 28-day rule for electing a First Minister and goes on to say:

That's plenty of time if the ground for a coalition has already been well prepared.

But it's not enough to fit a Rainbow coalition together. Some Labour sources are now considering the possibility that Rhodri Morgan would see that it is time for him to put Wales, rather than his party first. . . .

. . . A Labour source in the Assembly told Cambria "There is a possibility that a caretaker government would be set up; Rhodri would continue as First Minister with an agreement that he would step down in September. During that time nothing radical would happen; it would be a case of keeping things ticking. At the same time the other parties would be bolting together an administration that would take over"

Note the word source, this isn't a case of Clive gazing into a crystal ball and foreseeing what it turns out is very likely to happen, but something that he was told would happen by somebody in the Labour party (possibly even Morgan himself).

This suggests that we have not reached the present state of play in the Assembly by chance, by accident or by political twists in the tail, as many of us bloggers have thought, but it has come about by an agreement made at least three months ago.

If this is so then the people of Wales have been deceived in an underhand way by all four political parties over the last three weeks - and that is a shocking political scandal.

This scandal raises a number of questions:

Were Peter Black's refusenik blog posts prearranged?

Were the Rainbow Rebels primed?

Why did the Lib Dems and Plaid pull out of talks with Labour so unexpectedly?

Have we all been had?


Sooner, Later, Never?

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.


Resurrection of English Regional Devolution

When it came to office back in 1997 Tony Blair's government had plans to change the constitution of the whole of the Britain through devolution. Scotland and Wales were to be devolved first, and this was to be followed by devolution to the English regions. The plan came unstuck in 2004 when voters in the northeast of England voted decisively against regional devolution. The northeast was seen as the most likely to vote in favour, when they chose not to it became clear that no other English region would support devolution either.

According to an article in today's edition of the Sunday Herald Gordon Brown intends to resurrect English regional devolution when he becomes Prime Minister.

English regional devolution is a matter of great importance to Brown, because of his fear that his Scottishness might be a handicap in the next Westminster election. A number of English people already wonder why he should be allowed to be Prime Minister with overall responsibility over a number of departments and their policies, when those policies will only affect England and where the departments responsible for his home patch are governed by a different parliament and a different party.

Of course there is no more call for English regional devolution today than there was back in 2004, and no referendum in any region has a chance of producing a vote in favour of devolution. Brown may, therefore, attempt to avoid the need for referenda altogether. England already has Regional Assemblies, statutory bodies where councillors and representatives of public and voluntary organisations meet to discuss things such as regional development. Brown might just decide to "democratise" these bodies, by having their members elected rather than nominated.

Such plans must be resisted

Firstly because Cornwall is part of the South West of England Region, which includes the whole of the southwestern peninsula. Cornwall is a nation that deserves its own parliament, it is an insult to the people of Cornwall to treat them as a minor part of an English region

Secondly because such a scheme would degrade the national status of Wales and Scotland, they would be seen to be on a par with an English region such as the west Midlands rather than nations

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, because England is a nation too. The only way to treat England, Scotland and Wales equally is by creating a parliament for England and not by creating nine English Assemblies.

Cymraeg: Atgyfodi Datganoli i Loegr
Other blogs on this subject:
Tommy English: England is not a country.....
Ourkingdom: England's Turn for its own parliament

Blue Blair

Nothing helps sell a book better than a well-placed newspaper story in advance of publication. So Alastair Campbell will, no doubt be pleased that his latest offering has made headlines in today's Observer, with a story that he

has toned down his diaries about life in Number 10 after being asked by friends of the Prime Minister not to reveal that Tony Blair swears like the proverbial trooper.
When the diaries hit the bookshops in July, Blair's clean image will be preserved after Campbell was 'prevailed upon' to tone down his accounts of the prime ministerial language. This means they will not include the time Blair used the c-word to describe a senior Labour figure from the Eighties. He also regularly swore when he felt things were not going in the direction he desired.

Unfortunately I find this story very hard to believe. Firstly because us f***ing Welsh knew all about his swearing anyway, and secondly because you don't preserve a person's good clean image by toning down his colourful language - and then telling the newspapers that you have done so.

The Blair Years is to be published on July 9th at a price to swear about - twenty five quid.


A New Welsh Blog Roundup Service

Following my comment that I miss Wales Elect 2007's impartial bolg roundup, a knight in shining armour has come to the rescue with a new Welsh Political roundup service .

There are at least twenty Welsh political blogs not included on the sites blogroll at the moment, including some who contribute to the comments section here. So pay the site a visit and let the correlator know that you exist.

The end for Ieuan?

Most of the leadership futures comments following the collapse of the Rainbow have concentrated on the very short future as party leader that Mike German has. But what are the prospects for Ieuan Wyn Jones?

Ieuan Wyn's strength is always claimed to be his ability to wrangle, his ability to do the backroom deal, his Machiavellian ability to plan and conspire. Rhodri Morgan's election as first minister today has shown the limit of Ieuan's wrangling ability, all his wheeler-dealing has ended in failure. On May the 4th he was in a position to get a deal out of Labour or to get a deal out of the other opposition parties. He has ended up with neither.

He has put Plaid in the unsavoury position of being seen as willing to work with the Hairy Arsed Tory Monster with nothing but the odium of that willingness to show for it. A coalition with the Tories that delivered the goods would have provided some buffer from the Tory lover jibe that Labour is sure to make (and make often), but without a single Plaid-Tory policy passed for the benefit of the people, the party is left defenceless against such Labour jibes.

The Rainbow Rebels have also shown IWJ's inability to maintain party discipline, which is made more serious by who those rebels were: The deputy party president, the party's A star election winning candidate and two new AM's who's first outing in the Bay was an act of rebellion against his leadership.

The election of Rhodri Morgan, the hopes raised by IWJ that have since been dashed and the internal disquiet must, surely, mean that Ieuan's days as Plaid's Assembly leader are numbered.


Just one vote ain't democracy

For it or against it, it is a fact that the death of the Rainbow Coalition was caused by just one vote in last night's Lib Dem Executive meeting. If just one Lib Dem Exec had voted in favour, rather than against, the Rainbow would still be a possibility.

Is this democracy - A million vote, but just one decides?

Whatever else the next Assembly does it must work out a better, fairer way of deciding which party or group rules after the 2011 election.


Plaid, Google and the Doghouse

Since the end of Wales Elects 2007, I miss the Blog Roundups that often introduced me to new blogs with different views. Very occasionally I attempt to add an other blogs on this point addendum to my posts - but it's not the same as Wales Elects impartial roundups use to be.

In trying to find some posts to add to my latest addendum, by naively putting Plaid into a Google blog search, I discovered that Plaid has an English or at least an American meaning that I had never come across before.

Apparently there is a film called Dead Men Don't Vote Wear Plaid

And then there are the porno sites. He ripped off her Plaid skirt, she wasn't wearing knickers…., and then, the wife sees what I'm doing on the computer and can't believe that politics sent me to such a site so she tells me off!

I still don't know what Plaid means in American, I daren't do any more research, can anybody help?

I Don't Know

A question has been asked in a comment, to which I don't know the answer.

The lists members are elected on a party basis. What happens if a list member changes party allegiance or is expelled from membership of the party?

I don't know. Do they remain AMs or is their place taken by the next in line as would happen if an AM died or resigned?

(NB I am asking the question for curiosity's sake not because I am plotting to nobble any particular AM - yet!)

Thanks to Peter Black AM who not only gave a definitive answer to the question, but also found an example to prove the point. Rod Richards was a list member who sat outside his party group. If a list member leaves his or her party then they stay an AM. Thanks again Peter.

Who will phone first?

AS the Lib Dems have now given the Rainbow Coalition the Mick Bates Finger, the Assembly is left with two options a minority government with a stability pact or a minority government without a stability pact. The minority government without a pact could, theoretically, be a Plaid / Tory one, but this is highly unlikely. The only realistic candidate for FM remaining is Numpti Morgan.

As Morgan's life would be made a lot easier if he had a stability pact than if he is without one, and Plaid's influence would still be greater if it offered such a pact rather than refused one, the question is who has benefited most from tonight's shenanigans? Is Plaid's bargaining position strengthened or weakened?

Because of the Rainbow Rebels, I suspect that Plaid's position has been significantly weakened. Labour know that they already have a third of Plaid AM's in the bag without giving any further ground. But can Labour afford the risk of holding out without offering more to Plaid?

The government of Wales could depend on who's nerve folds first; whether Ieuan phones Numpti, or Numpti phones Ieu!

More on the end of the Rainbow:
Chanticleer - Lee's Pages - Geraint - David Peter - Cascittuni - Blamerbell - Cymru 2020 - New Welsh Right - Luke Young - and in my opinion the most poignant comment Llanelli


A New Blog

Here is a Link to the latest nationalist addition to the Welsh Political Blogosphere

Rainbow Rebels' Hospital Shame

Vaughan Roderick from the BBC has had sight of the Labour Party's proposals for an electoral deal with Plaid Cymru. The document reveals that the two sides failed to reach agreement on the subject of hospital reorganisation. This was one of the main planks of Plaid Cymru's election campaign; it was so central and so important that candidates appeared on the ballot papers as "Plaid Cymru - Save xxxxx Hospital".

The fact that the four rebel AM's are willing to sell hospitals such as Llandudno or Withibush down the river in order to defend some outdated socialist ideals and to keep themselves ideologically pure is both disappointing and shameful.


Effective Opposition

AS the discussion about coalitions and agreements go on, AMs are really faced with just two options. To be part of the Government or to be part of the opposition; or to use Bay speak be effective in opposition.

It is almost inevitable though that a multi party opposition will be ineffective because of its nature. You have three different leaders, rather than one leader speaking with the authority of the whole of the opposition. Situations arise were all opposition parties oppose the government but for different reasons, confusing and weakening the opposing argument, and then there are always times when the opposition splits with one party supporting the government, another abstaining leaving just a small rump of the opposition to oppose.

Despite this there were a few occasions in the last Assembly where the opposition parties proved that they could be effective not just by defeating the government but also by gaining valuable concessions from the Government. On these occasions the opposition parties had to work closely together, work out a joint plan and stick together like glue. However if that is what is needed to be an effective opposition wouldn't it make more sense to use that sort of coalition to be in government?

If Rainbow Government comes into being the opposition will be formed by one party that has a history that shows it can be united and disciplined. If the Rainbow Government happens the Assembly could have the new experience of having a truly effective opposition, rather than one that is just occasionally effective, would a government made up of three very different parties be able to govern effectively under the scrutiny of such an effective opposition?

Cymraeg: Gwrthblaid Effeithiol


Odd goings on in Parliament and Toilets

During a discussion on Single Farm Payments in the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Questions session on Thursday, what might be the oddest question ever asked of a minister was put to David Miliband

Peter Ainsworth (East Surrey, Conservative)
When does he expect to be able to start using the gents toilets at farmers' events rather than the ladies—for fear of meeting angry farmers in the gents—and, finally, does not the fact that he does so show how little he understands the nature of farmers' wives?

David Miliband (Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
I know that a special unit has been set up at Tory central office to track my activities—clearly it is being taken to rather ridiculous lengths—but since the hon. Gentleman asks, and although this may be shocking to the House, at the National Farmers Union I actually used the gents toilets. As it happens, at the gents toilet I met a farmer from Wales who subsequently entered into correspondence with me— [ Laughter. ]

As Agriculture and farm payments are devolved to the Assembly I wonder what the Welsh farmer and the Minister are corresponding about.


Don't Bank on the Crock of Gold

There has been a lot of excitement on the Blogosphere since both of Tomos Livingstone's mobile phones rang last night to say that the Liberal Democrats had suspended talks with Labour. (What's the point of having two mobile phones - one for each ear?)

But the Rainbow Coalition isn't a done deal, and may still not come off. Bethan Jenkins a new AM from Plaid's left has already blogged a warning shot over the bows of those in Plaid who are warming to the proposal. On Maes-e some Plaid members are threatening to rip up their membership cards if Plaid gets into bed with those who destroyed their valley community. Even if IWJ is gagging for the First Minister's job there is only a 50/50 chance that his own party officials will let him take it.

More important is the use of the word suspended in Mike German's statement. The Lib-Lab talks aren’t over they have just been put aside for a bit. It's no secret that Mike has had a few internal difficulties over the past few weeks. Suspension could prove the trump card that saves him, the thing that gives him more from a Lib-Lab pact than his critics can refuse. More importantly it could be the trump card that saves Rhodri.

Morgan has had difficulties within his own group in selling a Lib-Lab coalition or a Lab-Plaid understanding to his AM's. What both parties are asking in return for agreement has been too much for some Labour AM's. Faced with the possibility of a Plaid-Led-Tory-Including-Government with Labour in opposition some of the Labour die-hards are going to give ground, giving Mike what he needs to sell a Lib-Lab coalition to his party, or giving Ieuan what he needs to sell a Lab-Plaid understanding to his and giving Rhodri the chance of remaining FM.

I hate the Labour Party with a passion so I hope that a Rainbow Coalition comes off, but I'm not ready to bet real money on it yet - despite the hype.

More about Rainbows:
Genesis 9:13 - Glyn Davies - Martin Egleston - Gareth Wyn - Scottish Futures - 10% - Ted Jones - Welsh Labour Mark - Renewed Labour - The Shooting Prof - Damon Lord - Aberafon & Neath Lib Dems - Blamerbell - Pontygwyndy - Tortoiseshell - Rhys Llwyd - Bratiaith - Glasflog - Vaughan - Our Kingdom


Coalitions not right for the right?

The New Welsh Right blog, written by a Tory sixth form student from Cardiff, has an interesting post today about coalitions. He makes a strong and persuasive argument for the Welsh Conservatives not to join in coalition with Plaid.

The two parties are the antithesis of each other and have nothing in common, he says. The Tories are Capitalist Unionists and Plaid Cymru Socialist Nationalists:

The people who voted for them think completely differently, they would neutralise each other's stances and nullify each other's mandates. The two parties would, as well as the inevitable long term loss of supporters that comes from being in government, lose supporters at the outset simply by being there with the other party.

There are many members of Plaid who would make similar arguments against joining forces with the hated Conservatives.

I appreciate many of the complaint that NWR makes about Plaid. As a centre right nationalist I have difficulties with the party's socialist stance. I would imagine that those difficulties would be even greater for unionists who are further to the right than I am.

However if you scratch the surface of the ideologies then the gulf between the parties isn't that deep. Socialism in Plaid is not as entrenched as some in the party would have us believe. Socialism in Plaid is a bit like martyrdom in the Catholic church - something that can be admired in others but not a thing that one wants for oneself. Conservatism in Wales has never been ultra-right, the Welsh Conservatives were Cameroonian before Cameron was even born. Both parties even agree, to a certain extent, on the independence question in that both believe it is a matter that would have to be decided by referendum and that there is little likelihood of such a referendum being held in Wales within the next four years.

Even if there were huge ideological differences between both parties, the nature of the Assembly doesn’t allow much room for left / right ideological manoeuvre. The Assembly can't nationalise or privatise anything. The Assembly has a statuary duty to support public services and even many of the subsidies that the Assembly hands out are given out according to Europe or Westminster's statutory guidelines. Because of the lack of room to manoeuvre there was little in the Plaid manifesto that a Conservative would find hard to swallow and little in the Tory manifesto that would send Plaid members to the sick bucket.

Another thing that both parties have in common is that they both suffer from a Labour created false image. The Tories are imagined to be English snobs intent on smashing the Welsh workers. Plaid is perceived to be a party that wants to force everybody to speak Welsh and to create a Welsh Republic in the image of 1950's Albania.

A period in government would help both parties to prove that they are not hairy-arsed ogres, but sensible parties that can be trusted with the governance of Wales for the good of the people, and prove that there are serious alternatives in Wales to another 50 years of Labour's one party state.

Welsh Recusants

Whatever our wants, our needs or our desires for the next Assembly Government, whenever it is formed, we have to accept that it will be formed according to the regulations set down in Westminster under the Government of Wales Act 2006.

The Government of Wales Act 2006 is the most partisan, one sided, biased and undemocratic act passed in parliament since the Act Against Recusants of 1593. The 1593 act ensured that only Protestants had any rights in England and Wales, but all (protestant or not) had obligations.

The Government of Wales Act 2006 has numerous clauses that ensure that Labour has rights but other parties have obligations. The Act contains a number of pro-Labour Vetoes.

The most blatant and most publicised aspect of the Act was that if Labour lost power then the other parties would lose their leaders and be put into an immediate post election crisis. If the Tories had won Montgomery and / or Brecon - Bourn would be out. If the Lib Dems won a seat or two in South Wales East, Mike German would be out. Even if Plaid had a generally good election but had lost Ynys Môn, there was to be no list comeback for the party leader.

Even if the "kick the leader" ploy hadn't worked (and it didn't) there was always the Labour minority clause to fall back on. Certain things, such as a referendum on extra powers, can only be passed with the consent of two thirds of Assembly members. In other words Labour needed to have fewer than 20 seats to be defeated. For Labour to have fewer than twenty seats under the terribly Labour biased system of elections that we have in Wales they would have to gain less than 15% of the vote, which was always unlikely.

As unlikely as Labour gaining just 14% of the vote was, The Government of Wales Act has a number of just in case clauses to counter such a result:

No Assembly Act can be passed without:

First the agreement of the Secretary of State for Wales
Second the agreement of the Westminster (Labour dominated) Welsh Affairs Committee
Third the Agreement of the House of Commons
Fourth the Agreement of the House of Lords
And of course, in fifth place "Royal Assent" (available only by the recommendation of the Labour Government)

Under the Government of Wales Act all non Labour voters are treated as Recusants.

The choice that Palid has is to support a minority government that rids Wales of the Political Recusants Act 2006 or one that fails to get much through the 2006 Act because of its internal bias, but highlights its injustice.

Either is OK by me as long as the choice that Plaid makes leads, ultimately to independence for Wales, not just from the UK, but more so from the false divinity of so-called Welsh Socialism.


Congratulations Scotland

Many congratulations to Alex Salmond on his election as First Minister of Scotland. He will have a difficult, and sometimes frustrating, task ahead of him trying to govern Scotland without a majority and in the opposition of a Labour Party that has the same divine right to rule attitude in Scotland as it has in Wales.

Alex Salmond is an astute politician and a capable man. I am sure that he will succeed to overcome all the difficulties that the unionists put on his path and that he will transform the government of Scotland to the benefit of the country's people.

As Scotland embarks on one of its most exciting periods in 300 years, Welsh patriots will be very interested in what is happening there. One of the best places to keep up with Scottish political goings on and gossip is the Tartan Hero blog. His latest post includes a video link to Alex Salmond's acceptance speech in Holyrood.


The Wigley and Ryder Nonsense

The amount of crap that has been written on blogs, in magazines and in newspapers over the last few days about Dafydd Wigley and Janet Ryder is incredible. That much of it has come from people who claim to support Plaid is unforgivable. These stories and the nonsensical comments that support them do nothing but hand feed those who wish to harm Plaid Cymru and the national movement. They create division where none exist and create unneeded bad feeling amongst supporters of the national cause

If Dafydd Wigley, as an individual, or Plaid Cymru as an organisation wanted to ensure the re-election of Wigley to the current Assembly there were better ways of doing so than standing him on the North Wales Regional list.

Owen John Thomas had made known his intention of retiring from his seat on the South Wales Central list, there was nothing stopping Wigley from trying for this vacant slot. Janet Davies had also indicated her intention of retiring; if Plaid wished to make an exception to its women first rule to facilitate Wigley's return, South West Wales was clearly the best region in which to make such an exception. If Wigley had wanted to stand for the Aberconwy constituency he would have won the nomination and Gareth Jones would have been happy to stand aside to facilitate his nomination. A bigger gamble, but not as much of a gamble as 2nd place on the northern list would have been for Wigley to stand as candidate in Clwyd West.

Ensuring Wigley's election wasn't part of the plan when it was decided to put him in 2nd place on the North Wales list. Following the disastrous election results of 2003 and 2005, there was a genuine worry amongst Plaid's leaders that Ieuan Wyn might lose his Ynys Môn constituency. If this had happened bitter internal wrangling over the leadership question would have weakened an electorally weakened Plaid group further. If, however, Wigley had been elected as a consolation for a losing Anglesey, then that bitter wrangling would be avoided, because Wigley would become the natural leader, and the Plaid group would be able to start building for the future.

Of course if Wigley had gone for one of the safer alternatives of getting elected, he would still have been in the Bay to step in if a disaster had hit the party on the Island, but this path was purposely and conscientiously avoided by the party and by Wigley himself, for a good reason. If Wigley and Ieuan Wyn had both been elected the new Assembly would have began with a divisive leadership debate. If Wigley had been elected the muck that is now being aimed at Janet Ryder would have been aimed instead at IWJ and Plaid would have found itself in the same mire as the Lib Dems now find themselves.

Plaid had a plan when it put Wigley on the north Wales list, a plan that has worked, so far, are disgruntled party members about to derail that plan by vilifying Janet Ryder?

CYMRAEG Hen Rech Flin: Nonsens Wigley a Ryder

Western Mail - Blog Vaughan - Blamerbell - Labour Mark - Sanddef - Peter Black AM - Cymru Mark - Brit Nat Watch


An all-Wales list?

Vaughan Roderick made a post on his blog yesterday about the list system. In the post he suggested that one of the ways of doing away with some of the vagaries of the list system would be to have one all Wales list rather than five regional lists. Vaughan claims that a single list would make the list more proportional.

Vaughan isn't the first person to suggest this; the Greens have advocated an all Wales list for many years. Many have commentated the folly of having regions based on European Parliamentary constituencies that no longer exist.

I have worries about a single list, however. Our MEP's are chosen on an all Wales basis. Needles to say they are all from the south. The current list system gives a very poor geographical spread of representatives in its present form. None of the North Wales list members live in the west of the region. With the loss of Glyn Davies and Lisa Francis none of the current regional members for Mid and West Wales are from the Mid bit.

The map shows the concentration (in red) of the areas where list members are based; the blue bit shows how much of Wales doesn’t have a local list member. If we had an all Wales list I fear that the blue bit would be grater and that the red bit would be concentrated around a ten-mile radius of Cardiff. Too many people in north and mid Wales feel alienated from the Assembly now. An all-Wales list with a Cardiff centric bias would add to that feeling of alienation.


A Directly Elected First Minister?

There is a very vitriolic attack on the Liberal Democrats by Simon Jenkins in today's Guardian, in which he suggests that the Liberal Democrats are the flotsam of 20th-century politics drifting on into the 21st and suggesting that the best thing that the party could do is disband, to fold their tent and go.

On the whole the article is an illogical rant by somebody who clearly has an axe to grind with the Lib Dems, but it does contain one interesting observation. Commenting on the way that the Lib Dems are refusing to go into coalition with either the Labour Party or the National Parties in Scotland and Wales (at the moment at least) Jenkins suggests that it would be better if the First Ministers were elected in the same way as the London Mayor or the President of France

It is a tragedy that in Scotland and Wales the executive is chosen from the parliament, as at Westminster, but from one composed by PR, thus virtually ensuring rolling coalitions. This was instead of the London option of a separate executive and assembly, which is the constitutional basis of devolved government almost everywhere. Scotland and Wales should have had directly elected first ministers, with proportionately elected assemblies to check them. This would have met the requirement for a strong government in Edinburgh and Cardiff and for proportional representation in the balancing parliament/assembly.

I quite like this idea. France and London use slightly different ways of deciding who the winner is, but they are both a variation on a theme that leaves two candidates in a run off in which the one who gains more than half the vote gets elected.

The intriguing thing is what would happen if such a system were used in Wales?

If the run-off were Labour-Plaid, who would the Tories support? The Unionist Labour party or Plaid in order to beat the Labour archenemy.

If the run off was Labour-Conservative who would Plaid support? Would they also want to Kick Labour into touch as one of their election posters declared or would they vote for anything that wasn't blue, even a Labour FM?


The Nuclear Option

If Wales doesn't choose a First Minister by June 20th then we have to go to the polls again. How likely is this to happen?

The Lib Dems look as if they aren’t playing ball with anybody - not for a Lib / Lab pact and not for a Rainbow Coalition either.

The Tories aren’t going to support Labour in any way, shape or form.

Which leaves only one realistic option that can save us from another election, an agreement between Plaid and Labour, be it a formal coalition or an informal agreement to support a minority government.

Backing the loser might prove a very dangerous move for Plaid, one that might be seen as unforgivable by Labour hating Plaid loyalists and those who lent the party their support in order to give Labour a kicking. Supporting Labour in any form will make things difficult for Plaid in next year's council elections, never mind 2011.

If Plaid is going to take the risk of supporting Labour then Plaid has to extract a BIG reward for doing so - from Labour in Cardiff and Labour in Westminster.

These are things that I think should be non negotiable in the circumstances:

  • Passing more functions from Westminster to the Assembly including local policing, business rates and local authority taxation rules.

  • A referendum, supported unequivocally by Labour, within the next 18 months on extended powers, or an amendment to the Government of Wales Act making a referendum unnecessary for the additional powers to be effected by 2011

  • A thorough review of the housing for locals problem.

  • An updated Welsh Language Act and a huge increase in the number of Welsh Medium Schools.

  • Annual environment targets for the next 10 years, not a total long-term target that can't be judged.

  • Free Lap Tops for Bloggers - we deserve them much more than school kids do!

If Labour can't deliver on all of these issues (? other than the last one) then Plaid may as well go for the Nuclear Option and force the discredited Labour Party to re-run the election.


Plaid Targets

This table shows the incumbent party's lead over the Plaid candidate in the 33 seats that Plaid failed to gain this time around.

The fact that Wrexham and Alyn & Deeside are now closer targets than Merthyr, Rhondda and Cwm Cynnon, places which have voted well for plaid in the past show that the policy of using socialism to appeal to the valleys voters rather than patriotism isn't working.

Constituency % Maj over Plaid Vote Maj over Plaid Holder Plaid Place
Carm W & S Pembs 1.9 250 Con 3
Clwyd W 7.3 1743 Con 3
Neath 7.7 1944 Lab 2
Caerphilly 8.8 2287 Lab 2
Preseli Pemb 13.9 3985 Con 3
Clwyd S 15.1 2944 Lab 3
Gower 15.7 4300 Lab 3
Islwyn 16.1 3799 Lab 3
Swansea W 16.6 3810 Lab 4
Cdff West 17.3 4689 Lab 3
V of Clwyd 19 4220 Lab 3
Wrexham 19.2 3755 Lab 5
Delyn 19.9 4328 Lab 3
V of Glam 20.3 6844 Lab 3
Alyn & D. Side 21.4 6798 Lab 5
Cdff South & P 23.5 6281 Lab 4
Newport E 23.6 4699 Lab 4
Pontypridd 24 5682 Lab 3
Merthyr T 25 5257 Lab 4
Montgomery 25.2 5628 Lib D 3
Bridgend 25.6 6289 Lab 4
Swansea E 26 5372 Lab 3
Rhondda 28.1 6215 Lab 2
Cynon V 28.8 5623 Lab 2
Newport W 30.1 7133 Lab 4
Torfaen 30.8 7195 Lab 4
Aberavon 32 6571 Lab 2
Ogmore 34.7 7900 Lab 2
Cdff North 37.9 12762 Con 4
Cdff Cent 42.9 9607 Lib D 4
Bre & Rad 46.7 13430 Lib D 4
Bl Gwent 49.3 1443 Ind 4
Monmouth 49.3 13296 Con 4

Congratulations Mebyon Kernow

The SNP was not the only national party to gain more seats than Labour in Thursday's election round. In the Cornish district elections Labour managed to pick up just four seats in comparison to MK's seven. MK actually gained two more seats in Cornwall than UKIP gained in England.

A full account of how Mebyon Kernow faired can be seen in the comments section of my earlier post.

Thanks to Mike Chappell of http://www.cornishnotenglish.com for sharing the details.

Marginality of Constituencies

This is a list of the Assembly constituencies arranged according to the numbers of votes that the challenging party would need to gain in order to win the seat (not the percentage majority)
Constituency% MajFig MajHolder2nd Place
1 V of Glam0.283LabCon
2 V of Clwyd0.492LabCon
3 Carm W & S Pembs0.398ConLab
4 Delyn2.4511LabCon
5 Newport E4.4875LabLib D
6 Clwyd S5.71119LabCon
7 Gower4.31192LabCon
8 Wrexham6.41250LabInd
9 Newport W5.91401LabCon
10 Swansea W6.61511LabLib D
11 Clwyd W6.11596ConLab
12 Aberconwy8.21713PlaidCon
13 Neath7.71944LabPlaid
14 Montgomery8.91979Lib DCon
15 Islwyn9.42218LabInd
16 Caerphilly8.82287LabPlaid
17 Bridgend10.42556LabCon
18 Cdff South & P10.32754LabCon
19 Presli Pemb11.23205ConLab
20 Pontypridd14.23347LabLib D
21 Alyn & D. Side15.93362LabCon
22 Cdff West13.83698LabCon
23 Llanelli14.13938PlaidLab
24 Ceredigion13.13955PlaidLib D
25 Ynys Mon16.44392PlaidInd
26 Merthyr T21.84581LabLib D
27 Cdff North14.44844ConLab
28 Swansea E23.94961LabLib D
29 Arfon25.65018PlaidLab
30 Bl Gwent22.85354IndLab
31 Bre & Rad18.65357Lib DCon
32 Torfaen23.25396LabCon
33 Cynon V28.85623LabPlaid
34 Rhondda28.16215LabPlaid
35 Cdff Cent29.36565Lib DLab
36 Aberavon 32.06571LabPlaid
37 Ogmore34.77900LabPlaid
38 Carm E & Din28.98469PlaidLab
39 Monmouth28.68469ConLab
40 Dwyfor Meir40.18868PlaidCon


Dwyfor Meirion

Dewi Llwyd has just given an excuse on S4C for not giving much attention to the result in Dwyfor Meirionnydd, because it was not unexpected.

The result in Dwyfor Meirionnydd might actually be the most significant result in Welsh political history in the last 100 years. This may be the first time in 100 years that a party other than Labour has the safest seat in Wales. A significant turning point in Welsh politics that can't be dismissed as "expected"

Giving Up Election Blogging In English

My hit counters suggest that I am down 50% on the number of hits that I normally have at this time of the night on my English Blog - my Welsh blog is 300% higher than normal. So I'm giving up live blogging on this site and concentrating on my Welsh Language blog.

Disappointing result from Cwm Cynnon - one of the ones I was expecting to be better for Plaid. It looks like the Tories may be beating Plaid into third place.

Electronic voting causing problems in Scotland

The votes in Scotland are being counted electronically, rather than in the old-fashioned manual mode. In the first two seats to declare a huge number of votes have been declared void, a thousand per Constituency.

The SNP have just made their first gain Dundee West (+16% to SNP)with a majority just short of the 9000 spoiled votes.

There could be battles ahead in the courts before the results of the Scottish poll are finalised.

Election Coments

Looks like Plaid has won Aberconwy fairly comfortably, but the party's vote is not as good as expected in Clwyd West.

Plaid has also won Camarthen West and that the Tory's have gained Preseli.

Whispers that Plaid are worried in Anglesey.

Scottish PM we Joke has just been re-elected in Whishaw. 6.9% swing from Labour to the SNP

Apparently a boat carrying votes from one of the Scottish islands has sunk and lost all the votes.

If all the rumors that are reaching the BBC are true could Labour have fewer than 50% of the constituency seats for the first time in 100 years?

Apparently Labour now feels safer in Camarthen West - s*#t!

Tories not doing as well as expected in England! Lib Dems being kicked harder than Labour in the English counties.

Labour has just about scraped through in Glasgow Kelvin, no 16 on the SNP's targets - so bad for SNP. Big swing to both SNP and Green, Green vote allowed the Labour party to push through the middle.


Has the web affected the election outcome?

As the election campaign has now drawn to a close the political blogosphere may be in a state of limbo for the next 20 hours or so. With little to say until the analysis of the results start flowing as the first results come in. To fill this vacuum I would like to ask a question rather than make a comment.

What affect has the internet had on this election campaign?

There appears to have been a greater web presence in this campaign than there was even two years ago during the 2005 Westminster election. There are some 35 blogs discussing the Welsh election alone. Much use has been made of YouTube and I am told (not that I received one) that some candidates have been e-mailing their constituents in some places. But what, if any, practical effect has all this activity had on the election and its outcome?

Has web activity actually won or lost a single vote?

Is the effect of web activity subtler, as an aid to practising arguments or as a source of persuasive points that can be made on the doorstep? for example.

Does the internet harm the campaign? Do some potential party activists sit at home writing blog posts or producing YouTubes and think that they have then done their bit for the cause, using that as an excuse for not knocking on doors, filling envelopes, delivering leaflets etc - the tried and trusted way of winning votes?



To use a mental health term as an insult against those with whom one disagrees is prejudicial, intolerant and, in my view, totally unacceptable.

To use a medical or quasi-medical term as a form of abuse is not only demeaning to the person being abused, it is also demeaning to those who live with the medical condition.

A phobia is an irrational fear. People who are phobic have a serious psychological problem, and in extreme cases a psychiatric problem. A true phobia is always debilitating and often disabling.

I see no difference between calling a person with whom I disagree a spastic or a mongol and calling him a phobic.

So why do people, especially those on the politically correct left, insist on using the prejudicial term homophobic as a term of abuse against those who disagree with their views on same sex relationships?

Poor Little Me

I must apologise to regular readers for my lack of posts since Sunday, I have been suffering from a nasty dose of the cold and since then I haven't been in the mood for anything other than feeling sorry for myself .

I am not sure who to blame for my poor health. I'm sure that it was the Lib Dem who canvassed me on Friday who spread his germs this way, a dastardly ploy by the Liberals to make sure that all other party supporters are to ill too vote on Thursday thus ensuring them an unexpected victory in Aberconwy perhaps. On the other hand if Rhodri Morgan's government had given more investment to support Cardiff's Common Cold Unit, they would have come up with an instant cure by now.

Anyway I hope I'm feeling up to joining this on Thursday night / Friday morning:

For details of others blogging the election see Blamerbell Briefs.