The main reason Plaid Cymru decided on going into a governing coalition with Labour in the National Assembly was the much-trumpeted assurance that there would be a referendum on law making powers 'on or before 2011'. Whether this will be delivered is increasingly open to question. It would be a massive blow to Plaid if this referendum fails to materialise. And it looks to me that this could easily be the case. The two coalition partners have sensibly decided to set up a 'convention' to establish whether a referendum can be won - but there seems to be absolutely no hurry in setting it up, and it looks as if the earliest it could report would be late 2009 or 2010. So it was no surprise to see Plaid's Parliamentary leader, Elfyn Llwyd begin to prepare the ground for this 'mother of all U-turns' last week when he started counselling against rushing into it. That Elfyn was giving sensible advice is immaterial. Its just that if its taken, Plaid Cymru will have sold their souls for a pup last May.
Lets look at where we are. Labour, in the form of Peter Hain, and now Paul Murphy, have roundly rubbished the idea of a referendum before the next General Election, which we are now expecting about a year before the Assembly election. The Liberal Democrats and (at least I anticipate) both Labour and the Conservatives would not want the referendum on the same day as an Assembly Election. Its beginning to look like 2012 at the earliest. So where does that leave us? Or more to the point, where does it leave Plaid Cymru - and the governing coalition? Please keep your answers decent.