Is 50/50 best of both for Plaid?

Because of the 50/50 split between Labour and the others, my favoured coalition - that of a rainbow is now a no brainer. A minority Labour Government might (just) work, a minority rainbow coalition would be an impossibility.

Even if it was a possibility, I'm not sure that I would still back any form of coalition in either a First Past the Post or FPTP plus election, the risks of coalition are too high without the protection of a proper (STV type) proportional vote system.

Plaid Cymru's mantra since 2007 has been that the party has given added value to the Labour led government and stifled some of its excesses; the Lib Dems have made a similar claim about their influence on the Tories in Westminster since 2010. Both narratives are probably true; but neither party has benefited from it.

The problem seems to be that if you like what the Labour / Conservative led coalition governments have done you vote Labour / Tory rather than Plaid / LD. If you don't like what the Labour / Conservative led coalition governments have done you vote against their coalition partners who have enabled them to govern – a lose/lose situation.

There have been rumours that the Lib Dems are considering an agreement with Labour in the Assembly. That would be suicidally stupid! Giving the benefit of their input to two different parties and receiving the blame for the failures of both.

In a funny sort of way Plaid might be in the best possible position, if it resists both a Coalition or a Supply & Confidence agreement with Labour.

There are things that a Welsh Labour Government will want to do that the ConDem Westminster Government won't want them to do. Plaid is in a position to trade its support by squeezing a bit of blood from both sides!


  1. I warned against Plaid staying together in government with Labour a year ago. As with the Lib Dems at Westminster, Plaid have suffered by association. Also Plaid has no Alex Salmond, as you say. Go it alone - is the answer from now on.

  2. Is that what Welsh politics has come to? Squeezing a bit of blood from both sides? Who does the bleeding then - the major contributors to the taxation pool? Oh it's only the English, so that's all right then!

  3. I warned against a Plaid coalition with Labour at the outset. It was a no-brainer. Little or nothing has been gained for the Party. Even the referendum on powers would probably have happened in any case during the coming Labour term.

    In essence Plaid can be summed up:

    wrong leader
    wrong strategy
    wrong policies

    Will it learn the lesson? I think not. It doesn't have a leader, in the true sense of the word, more a manager who lacks vision. The contrast with the SNP is stark.

    On strategy, IWJ argued for the coalition despite pleas from those within his party. He had made up his mind, that was clear. Plaid was not ready for government, and wasn't really in government.. it was very much a junior partner, which from time to time had a kicking from Labour. There was, for example, the refusal to 'enoble' Plaid's three nominees and Hain's public criticism of IWJ ministerial performance.

    On policies, from listening to DE-T today one would think Plaid achieved tremendous things in Wales' transport infrastructure and its economy. All I see are fewer buses, clapped out trains, and roads full of potholes, plus of course an expensive air shuttle from North to South.

    Unfortunately and unsurprisingly the Welsh electorate didn't buy-in to IWJ's claim that Plaid could do things better. Even its spokesmen were admitting defeat on the eve of the elections.

    Wales' only hope, and Plaid is the only party capable of taking us there, is self-determination. Centuries of economic decline and neglect can only be addressed by Wales having the necessary powers - an impossibility within the UK. Sadly, it has lost that vision, and bought in to the focus group managerial mentality - which ultimately leads nowhere.

    A big re-think is needed. Plaid needs to start now, and use the five years to re-build and re-enthuse its members and followers, and provide some hope for the people of Wales.

  4. The revisionism re; coalition with Labour is poor and thankfully isn't being repeated anywhere outside the internet.

    Losing 4 Assembly seats in exchange for primary law-making powers (not the powers themselves but the floodgates they have opened)? Plaid won 17 seats in 1999 but devolution descended into a national joke. Plaid won 15 seats in 2007 and achieved law-making powers for Wales for the first time in half a century.

    MOF says that- "Both narratives are probably true; but neither party has benefited from it."

    I don't buy that. The 'Yes' vote benefited Plaid, not electorally but in terms of the party's long-term aims. Without a 'Yes' vote, criminal justice, fiscal powers, energy, etc would all be on the backburner for decades.

    If your mentality is like the British parties where you judge performance on how many seats and that's all, then I think that is not a nationalist analysis and is also ignorant of European coalition politics & of British politics which are not designed for Plaid to win.

    Our comrades in the Republican Left of Catalunya took a much greater hit than Plaid after being in coalition with the Catalan equivalent of Labour, and didn't achieve anywhere near as much constitutionally as Plaid did. Our sister party in the Basque Country was also in coalition (albeit with other nationalist parties) and only ended up with 1 seat, and is now probably facing dissolution.

    If you remove the British mindset it is obvious that 4 seats, harsh as it sounds, is a price worth paying for what was achieved. Whatever happens, IWJ should be thanked, not criticised.

    Anon said- "Even the referendum on powers would probably have happened in any case during the coming Labour term."

    Did you miss the Peter Hain intervention where he tried to derail the referendum and Plaid nearly walked out? There was no prospect whatsoever of a referendum if Labour governed alone. Everyone knows this.

  5. What about a radical proposal? Maybe the way ahead is for Plaid Cymru not to contest any Assembly elections in the future, only fighting Westminster elections as Gwynfor did so well.

    We would then see IWJ standing (and winning) as a Welsh Conservative on Anglesey, Leanne Wood standing (and winning)as a Welsh Labour Candidate, with Dafydd Elis-Thomas a Conservative, Mary Helen a Labour, and so on. It doesn't take much brain power to work out where each Plaid AM and prospective AM would fit. There might even be a couple of LibDems. Then, working inside the system, instead of acting as a permanent party of protest, they would be elected to power and implement nationalist politics, which ever party took power..

    What do you think?

  6. I don't agree. Its true that the existence of Plaid has driven devolution forward. That is, the existence of Plaid as an expansive movement, but its influence can be exaggerated.

    It's not merely a measure of the number of seats lost, but of the decline in the popular vote, and the perception of the nationalist tide having turned.

    What now for further devolution of powers? Will criminal justice and policing follow?

    Labour created the Assembly - Ron Davies persuaded Blair, on the coat tails of Scotland. Labour (the LibDems) commissioned Lord Richard.
    Let's remember that Hain was the architect of the 2006 Act, but he represented a Westminster rump of anti-devolutionsists interested solely in the retention of their own seats. That rationale disappeared with the Tories' determination to cut Wales' representation.

    I wouldn't over-rate Plaid's influence on the process.

    It's my assumption that Carwyn Jones, in the face of the Con/Dem coalition would have gone for a referendum on powers during this term.

    IWJ is presiding over his party's decline, and that has to be arrested in short-order. A further alliance with Labour will produce the same kind of result at the next elections.

  7. Ramblings. as I have voiced doubts about the wisdom of the coalition agreement between Plaid and Labour for the past four years, your accusation of revisionism is unfounded. I believed that it would be bad for Plaid in 2007 and my totally unrevised position is that Thursday's disastrous result has proved me right.

    You, however, do appear to be doing a spot of revisionism. As I said Plaid Cymru's mantra since 2007 has been that the party has given added value to the Labour led government and stifled some of its excesses; you now challenge this by an odd claim that Plaid has selflessly sacrificed seats in order to secure an advancement in the devolution process. I don't remember seeing that in the One Wales Agreement or in Plaid's Manifesto.

  8. "It's my assumption that Carwyn Jones, in the face of the Con/Dem coalition would have gone for a referendum on powers during this term."

    Is this assumption supported by a single credible political commentator in Wales?

  9. Why wouldn't he?

    Labour created the Assembly - it was Ron Davies who persuaded a reluctant Blair. It was Labour (backed by the LDs) who commissioned Lord Richard. It was Labour which passed the 2006 Act embodying Part 4 - its likely that the Richard proposals would have been acted on but for Labour's divisions - its selfish MPs wanting to keep their seats. That opposition has largely disappeared, as their seats are being axed anyway.

    Why wouldn't CJ want legislative powers in a Labour controlled/dominated Assembly. He's the only Labour politician in power in the UK right now?

  10. I don't rate Plaid's achievements in coalition. Its really been an unmitigated disaster for the party. It wasn't Plaid that won the referendum, it had the support of all four party leaders, and of three parties.

    Even if you credit Plaid with that achievement, where does the party go from here? At the moment it seems a bit of a busted flush.

    It has an uninspiring leader, with no alternative waiting in the wings (its managed to lose the one or two truly charismatic ones it had basically through mismanagement).

    Its policies were lacking in vision.. they could have been 'owned' by any of the other three parties.

    It has lost its direction having been sucked into the politics of the Bay. That was Labour's aim by bringing in devolution.. kill off the national movements by giving them a few crumbs. It looks as if its working in Wales, but Scotland and Salmond have proved that national sentiment cannot be dismissed so easily.

    Plaid has nothing but itself to blame. It had better start getting its act together quickly. I fear it won't, having listened to Dafydd Elis Thomas over the weekend. I saw and heard little but complacency. Ieuan Wyn Jones is keeping a low profile, again a bad sign. The three opposition party leaders in Scotland who all fared badly have announced either their resignations.

  11. Anon 13:40. I don't see how Carwyn Jones would have gone for a referendum of his own accord- precisely because of the divisions you mention over MPs. I don't see how you can dismiss those divisions as having disappeared, when there were interventions from Labour MPs (not just retiring ones) over the referendum as recently as 2009 when Peter Hain attempted to derail it.

    I have not seen any respectable or credible writing or commentary that supports your position.

    When criminal justice is devolved- and it probably will be in the short to medium-term- will people again adopt a revisionist line and say "well Labour would have done it anyway"?

    What your comments do reveal is that it is hard to hold people to a gradualist or incremental path.

  12. I think its unfair, wrong even, to call it revisionism. Do you believe that the 2006 Act was enacted simply because of Plaid? It predated the coalition. Even Hain and Murphy voted Yes. Touhig was the only notable figure to come out against, and that was at the very last minute. The opposition came from a very small group of Labour dissidents in the south east of the country.

    Was Part 4 put there just as an ornament as far as Labour was concerned? It's in cicumstances such as prevail today that Labour could make best use of the powers, to show what it can do with them, when the party elsewhere is in the wilderness. If CJ had gone for the powers, it would have been a feather in his cap - his success - for Wales! That would have put the boot into Plaid even harder.

    I'm sure that Plaid, IWJ, and such as yourself, will use the referendum success as justification for a strategic error which is a major setback for the party. That will be a mistake. Unless it recognises its error, it will be repeated - a couple of major figures in the party have said that Plaid should support Labour yet again, given the opportunity. That to me is nothing short of total stupidity.

  13. "Do you believe that the 2006 Act was enacted simply because of Plaid?"

    No, it was a compromise response to the Richard Commission as we both know. But the referendum trigger was not envisioned to be pulled for quite some time, when Hain drew up the Act. There are statements from Hain and other Labour MPs at the time saying they did not think the referendum would be held any time soon, let alone within a few years. This is accepted throughout Welsh political history, Plaid's insistence was what triggered the referendum.

    "Even Hain and Murphy voted Yes."

    Hain would have all along, of course. But Murphy and Hain are very different politicians. Murphy was persuaded by Labour colleagues. I'm not making any particular point about Hain or Murphy suffice to say you lumping them together shows a lack of familiarity with the GoWA and the referendum dynamic.

    The theory about Carwyn Jones makes sense- but again it stands that there was no enthusiasm from Labour to hold the referendum, before Plaid entered One Wales. Labour envisioned strengthening the Assembly through the LCO system and giving it more time to bed down.

    It is definitely revisionist to go back into Welsh political history and suggest Labour would have held the referendum on their own- I have not seen a single political analyst or commentator advance this opinion and I think that says it all. It's a fringe idea, and certainly not strong enough to base an analysis of Plaid's record in government on.

  14. If my memory serves me correctly, there was a division of opinion in 'Welsh' Labour, between its MPs and AMs on legislative powers which harks back to well before 2006.

    Hain represented the MPs viewpoint in his creation of GoWA as opposed to a move to Richard. It was the MPs method of controlling legislative powers. It was pure posturing in order to avoid a cut in representation.

    With a Tory Government in power Welsh Labour MPs would have found it extremely difficult to oppose the request of a Labour dominated Assembly for the powers.

    It was conceivable, even in 2007, that the days of Labour in Government were numbered and that it would be followed by a Tory administration.

    When that (eventually) happened the legislative powers would be at the command of Labour in the Assembly - making a move to Part 4 likely, if not inevitable. It would also easily obtain majority support for the move from AMs of all parties.

    I could forsee this happening in 2007 when Plaid went into coalition. I opposed it. To call it revisionism is unjustified.

  15. Anon, you are wrong but i'm not being deliberately stubborn or unreasonable, I will justify my position.

    "It was conceivable, even in 2007, that the days of Labour in Government were numbered and that it would be followed by a Tory administration."

    Not really. One Wales was signed amidst a significant Brown Bounce.

    You are correct to point out that Hain represented the MPs viewpoint.

    In October 2007 he said that there was no consensus in Labour for a referendum. He stated that he "could not see it (the referendum) happening over the four years of this assembly". He added "I didn't take the Government of Wales Bill through, nor did MPs vote for it, to be bounced into an early referendum". He was articulating the views of Labour's Welsh MPs, much as he did during the compromise response to Richard. It was, contrastingly, Plaid Cymru that argued that public opinion would enable a referendum within the term as One Wales promised. Plaid were of course later proven right.

    Here is the news report from that day- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7066201.stm

    In November 2009 One Wales was briefly jeopardised as a late intervention was made to try and end the coalition and defeat the prospect of a referendum. This was preceded in October 2009 by Peter Hain again stating his (and Labour MPs') opposition to a referendum within the term, saying that instead the LCO system should be given more time.

    Again, here is the evidence-

    This justifies my claim that your position is revisionist.

    But I think it's more important to say my position isn't Welsh Ramblings or Plaid or anything like that, it is the accepted knowledge of the entire breadth of mainstream Welsh politics, whereas you are expressing a fringe view which has no evidence, no quotes and no sources.

  16. I'm saying that Labour would have gone for a referendum when the circumstances were favourable for them, such as now - this coming term. It was predictable that it would arise in the medium term. All that Plaid achieved was to get the legislative powers referendum earlier than otherwise, at significant electoral cost. Moreover, it's Labour that will be using those powers.