Good article by Martin Shipton in today's Western Mail commenting on Labour's Assembly election strategy. As always, Martin gets to the heart of what is happening. Rhodri Morgan's party is not telling the voters of Wales the truth about how Wales might be governed after May 3rd.
All of us fighting this election hope to win 31 seats, so that we can form a government. All of us also know that the opinion polls are saying that none of us is going to succeed. So we all know that some form of coalition is likely to be formed. The whole purpose of Labour's campaign is to tell voters that the only 'real' choice is between Labour or a 'Tory' led coalition. This is not true.
For many months (years even), I have been advocating consideration of a non-Labour coalition - which would inevitably involve the Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems - a concept which I accept is verging on the incredible (even if Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams did a deal in N. Ireland last month). My own view is that such an arrangement could only work if the leader of the largest party becomes First Minister. But Plaid's leadership has made it absolutely clear that they would not serve in a Tory-led coalition. Now, I find this disappointing, childish and rather amateurish - but it does show up Labour as trying to mislead the voters.
This of course is a matter for Plaid. But its stance could prove very expensive for the Party. It could lead to Plaid becoming an irrelevance in Welsh politics. If Labour and the Lib Dems do form a coalition after May 3rd (and they have both been reported to be preparing for it) and the Welsh Conservatives become the Official Opposition (which I believe is highly likely) - what then for Plaid. With a Welsh Conservative Party, committed to greater political autonomy in Wales and a growing commitment to promoting Welsh cultural distinctiveness - Plaid will be totally 'stuffed'. Labour's election campaign may be fundamentally dishonest but Plaid are playing games with its very existence as a mainstream political party in Wales.