Friday, December 08, 2006

Revenge of a Spurned Suitor

I read in today's Western Mail that I and fellow blogger, Peter Black are less than impressed by the policy gymnastics of Plaid Cymru over the Assembly Government's budget. I was content with Martin Shipman's reporting of my strong critisms - except that I wish I had not referred to Plaid Cymru as the 'nationalists'. I won't do that again. It has a unacceptable ring of gratuitous disrespect about it.

For months, I have been trying to point out to Plaid Cymru that if the people of Wales are to be offered a genuine choice at the next election, there must be the prospect of a non-Labour option. All of us hope we can win a sufficient number of seats to form a Government on our own - but this is not likely. In a Proportional Representation system we are all forced to consider compromises and joint programmes. The alternative is to be confined to the touchline of politics for ever. There are many Plaid members who find it difficult to contemplate working in harness with Tories - no matter how much we have changed. There are also many Tories who would prefer permanent opposition to forming any sort of relationship with Plaid Cymru or the Lib-Dems. And I don't relish the thought either. But without the prospect of power, there is little point in being in politics at all.

The budget discussions have really exposed Plaid Cymru. There is absolutely no point in threatening to vote down the Assembly Government's Final Budget without the determination to remove the Government from office if the vote is lost - and it would be irresponsible to force the Government out without being prepared to take over the reins of power. Without this level of determination, the whole exercise is posturing. At 12.15 last Tuesday Ieuan Wyn Jones was leading a group of leaders who gave every indication that they meant business. Two hours later, the Plaid Cymru leader had not so much 'blinked' as put his head in a paper bag. And that is why I ask myself how it is possible to work with a party which is so long on rhetoric - and so short on the guts needed to take on the ruthless Labour machine which has dominated Welsh politics for a century. In the circumstances 'Wobbly' is about the kindest word that I can come up with.

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