Friday, July 25, 2008

Choking on their Weetabix.

Plaid Cymru supporters must have been chewing hard on their Weetabix this morning. As they tucked into their first bale they would have enjoyed watching the Nationalist First Minister of Scotland crowing about winning a by-election by securing a swing of 23%. There is no doubt that a lot of this is due to the personality of Alex Salmond, and the way he has used his position of First Minister. As the second Weetabix went down, they will have started thinking that this might have been us. And it might have. But Ieuan Wyn Jones wobbled, and chickened out, and decided that he would rather be Rhodri Morgan's Deputy, rather than First Minister himself. I always thought it was an utterly unwise decision. I suspect a few Plaid supporters were feeling the same as in anger, they took a third bale of Weetabix.

Plaid Cymru got absolutely nothing out their deal with Labour, when they decided to prop up Rhordi Morgan in office 14 months ago. They made a big song and dance about 'getting into' Government for the first time ever, and Ieuan becoming Deputy First Minister. The word 'Deputy' has value only as 'in the unfortunate event' way. The truth is that no-one ever remembers the 'deputy'. And Plaid would probably have had three Ministers and the First Minister if Ieuan had gone for the 'Rainbow Coalition' with the Conservatives and the Lib Dems.

Some Plaid supporters claim that the Plaid/Labour Coalition was the only way to get a referendum on law making powers for the National Assembly. Well, its become clear that they are not going to have a referendum in the current Assembly anyway - so no gain there. And as far as I can see, there is a good majority of Conservative and Liberal Democrat AMs who would agree to a referendum if Plaid pushed it - which they won't. And the 60% threshold would have been guaranteed because there are a good few Labour AMs who would have voted with the 'Rainbow' on this.

And who knows what else Plaid might have squeezed out of the deal. Many Conservatives felt as I did, that we had to do our damnest to get into Government ourselves, to promote our policies, and to enable Assembly politics to grow up by not always having a Labour dominated Government.

As Plaid ponder the fallout from the sacking of their most charismatic Minister, they can move on to reflect on Glasgow East and the biggest missed opportunity of their Party's existence. Three weetabix will not be enough


DaiTwp said...

Are you saying that you could have helped Plaid be the most popular party in Wales?

alanindyfed said...

We can always talk of "What if...?"
Decisions have to be taken depending on the factors in play at the time and then one has to stick to the decision made and do the best one can.
This has happened and we must now move on and prepare to take over control as Labour falters.
Plaid is a government in waiting,
biding time and gaining experience along the way. Its time will come.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty clear now that the Lib Dem AMs can't stand one another so the Rainbow would never have worked. Besides, it wouldn't really have had the support of the electorate, so they would have had to perform miracles to win the electorate over, whilst, at the same times, trying to deal with Labour MPs who would have done everything they could to wreck it.

DaiTwp said...

The fact is Plaid (along with most people) don't believe a referendum can be won without the untied support of the Labour party. And they calculated by signing them up for the one Wales agreement was their best chance of getting it. If they went the other way the Lab MP's especially would have had an even more free reign to block and more importantly speak out against any further powers.
Whether or not it was the right choice for them only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Pretty skewed take, Glyn. IWJ may not be Alex Salmond (or indeed Dafydd Wigley), but working with Labour has helped Plaid in terms of profile, membership and maturity. Your party is divided on devolution, and though it gets an easy ride at the moment, when the blimps, devo-antis and welsh-haters the conservative party harbours come back out of the woodwork, things will start to fall apart, I think.
More in sorrow than in anger, because I for one was tempted for a while by people like you, Melding et al. and I believed you might have a chance to change your party. But I don;t think you'll swing it. Welsh window dressing is how I heard you all described by a journalist, and I reckon that's true

eric said...

glyn, great blog, but some sour grapes creeping in of late. you know why the rainbow faded.

hope the wedding goes well, lovely day for it

Anonymous said...

IWJ is no Alex Salmond,dont kid yourself,he would have been as useless as First Minister as he is in his present job.
Charisma, not a lot of that around Cardiff Bay Glyn. Most of those who had Charisma have gone

Lenin Cymru said...

Frankly Glyn, your analysis does not stand up to scrutiny. You are of course trotting out the the Conservative handbook lines, but how can Plaid be subservient to Labour when so many Labour politicians are complaining that Plaid are dominating them?

Labour MP Don Touhig said this:

" far as the Labour Party is concerned, I warned a year ago that if we went into coalition with the nationalists they'd have their greatest advance in 50 years.

"That is what they have had.

"They've practically run rings around us politically. They've been very skilled, much more skilled at it than we have.

Anonymous said...

well said Glyn, Plaid's attempt to spin themselves out of this are poor indeed but does anyone whose not interested in welsh politics really care about all this, they keep on voting Labour come what may.

Anonymous said...

As a Plaid supporter all my life you are 100% right . Why on earth did that hapless Ieuan Wyn Jones not form an admistration that he could lead?

A lot of natural Plaid supporters will vote Tory next time = me for one . They are fed of London Labour and find people like Glyn Davies attractive . The root of this problem of course is Ieuan Wyn's undermining of Dafydd Wigley .

Sorry Ieuan you were never meant to 'play the Dane' your just not good enough and you know that -its why you chose to play secound fiddle to Rhodri Morgan .

I urge all Plaid supporters to back Glyn at the next election in Montgomery and not waste their vote on Plaid.

We need a good Welshman like Mr.Davies, influencing the next government . Perhaps Glyn can do as much for Wales and the Welsh language as Wyn Roberts did . If Wyn Roberts had been in charge I am certain we would have had Y Byd.

Glyn Davies said...

daitwp - Interesting question, because that is the point I make. I would also hope that it would have made the Conservative Party into a party of Government in Wales. Nothing I would like to see more than Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives fighting it out for top spot in Wales. Wales needs to move from the one-party-state mentality, that so dominates.

Alan - My post and previous posts make it clear that I just do not think you are right - but time will tell.

anon 1 - I accept that you could be right, but in politics its 'Nothing ventured, nothing gained'. I thought it was worth the risk.

Daitwp - all fair enough - and can you imagine the meltdown in Welsh Labour if the MPs did take the Don Touhig line to an even greatrere degree. They would be finished in Wales.

anon 2 - Of course its 'skewed' - to my way of thinking. Quite a few people think as you do. Again its a case of time will tell. If we do as well as the opinion polls currently indicate, I, and others will be making the argument from the benches of the Houise of Commons, and we'll have to see what effect that has. I am more confident of developing a Conservative esurgence in Wales that I've ever been.

eric - not too sour I hope, but I do try to be opinionated, as far as I can risk it.

VM - you are so much more unkind about Ieuan than I am.

Lenin C - Don Touhig is so used to Labour dominating Welsh politics that he cannot cope with even a Coalition. You should ask Labour AMs what they think of Don's remarks. And I don't think many would describe my 'take' on the position as out of the 'Conservative Handbook'.

anon 3 - They did.

anon 4 - Very generous comment. No greater compliment than to be compared with the great Lord Roberts.

alanindyfed said...

To give us all heart(quote):

But shadow foreign secretary William Hague said Labour was "increasingly losing the authority to govern".

"It's now been defeated in elections in every part of the country and I think they have come to the point where the best thing they could do is call a general election and let a proper government take charge," he said.

Let's hope Ffion converts him (to the idea of a Welsh parliament)! But once a Yorkshireman always a Yorkshireman! ;-)

Edward ap Sion said...

An interesting post, Mr Davies although a tad inacurate. But I think one thing is clear: if Plaid want to break the Labour stranglehold on Wales next time around, entering into coalition with them is not an option. In the unlikely event of Plaid taking 24-26 seats it could morally form a minority administration. 20-23 it could lead a coalition with either the Lib Dems or Conservatives, depending on their respective numbers.

I guess with such a small legislature, numerically, the choices are limited. If we had an Assembly of 80 or even 120 members perhaps that would allow other minority parties in and thus provide more acceptable coalition options for the large parties like Plaid and Labour.

Glyn Davies said...

Alan - Of course William will always be a Yorkshireman - just as I will always be a Montgomeryshire man. I have never and would never even think of living anywhere else. I like people who stay true to their roots - and it doesn't prevent them from painting on a wider canvas.

Edward - Your reference to 'a tad inaccurate' tempts me to publish another post on this. If I have time today, you are to blame.

Illtyd Luke said...

I don't think it would have been sustainable for Plaid to leap into leading the government when we only got around 25% of the popular vote (and especially because it would've involved bringing the Tories into government in Wales). There is no way Plaid could have upheld their social democratic programme if the Tories were involved. Keeping Wales to a left-of-centre path is more important in my view than occupying the First Minister's office on 25% of the vote and 15 seats. In the future, I am sure we will be able to do both.

What Glyn avoids is the way that Plaid has retained its identity despite being a junior partner for Labour. Voters have associated Plaid with all the popular policies of the Assembly even when they have been delivered by a Labour Minister.

The last local elections were a vote of confidence in Plaid's role in the coalition, as seats were gained in both the urban and rural areas of Wales. At the same time, there was no Welsh Conservative breakthrough in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Gwynedd. On this evidence, the Tories have a much more challenging future in Wales than Plaid Cymru do.

Ifor Hael said...

Glyn, Adam Price had posters all over Carmarthenshire during last election with the line Labour Supporter Lending his Vote to Adam Price because of the Iraq war . It worked . If you are in favour of a referendum on law making powers for the Assembly (As I believe you are) then your entitled to ask Plaid supporters to back you next time. Print green poster declaring - Plaid Supporter Lending his Vote to Glyn Davies to get a proper Parliament for Wales . I will display it as will countless others !

alanindyfed said...

Illtyd is absolutely correct in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Glyn ... great wedding pics - well done to you and all your family from your many readers.

On now - to the serious stuff - giving Sir Drefaldwyn a Radical ( Blue with a touch of green) MP not a part time TV celeb who is in the red tops for all the wrong reasons.

Ifor Hael said...

Ordovicius has attacked me ! Let me assure him that I have never voted for a political party apart from Plaid Cymru .

But I believe in small government the Labour Party in Wales and in London are taxing us out of existence . The public sector in Wales is already- as a percentage of the economy - the largest of any country in Europe.

Small successful countries have progressive ideas with regard to low corporation tax and flat rates of income tax . Glyn Davies to my mind is a nationalist and his ideas with regard to the economy is what will liberate us in the end . It's the economy stupid !

Welsh Nationalism to me is about chucking a lot of Government overboard such as huge the expenditure on defence that the Labour Party has committed us to paying. Those expensive aircraft carriers will- ten years from now - be 'sitting ducks' for any Islamist with a shoulder held missile and renewing our 'nuclear deterrent' is a decision that only loonies would support .

Plaid should be about low tax by being the party that will end colonial indulgences that we can no longer afford . Jill Evans is right. I only wish Ms Evans would be pro business which is the only way that 'cuckoo chicks' like the NHS and the Welfare State can be afforded. You fail to understand that you have to tax something to pay for these left wing ideas and capital is so transient these days that it simple will decide not to pay tax here if we charge too much . Witness the exodus of companies from London to low tax Dublin . 12% of something corporation tax is better that nothing! I want the right to set tax here in Wales and to suck money from the City to Wales by offering low rates of tax. Am I the only nationalist who thinks that the Tories are right when it comes to the economy and please don't give me that 'Thatcher destroyed Wales' line- it brings the the old line 'pass the sick bag Muriel' to mind .

Glyn Davies said...

Illtyd - Actually, Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives did agree a programme, and if the Lib Dems had not suffered a two day brain failure, the deal would probably have been signed off.
And I'd accept that the Conservatives have a challenging future in Wales, but I believe we're up for it - more so than ever before in my political experience.

Ivor - I am indeed in favour of law making powers being vested in the National Assembly - and will campaign for it whenever there is an oppoprtunity. In fact, I think this is accepted as being inevitable, the current debate being about timetable. I do hope Plaid supporters will support me, but I am a Conservative, uncomfortable with what seems a unrealistic belief in the power of the public sector to deliver practical solutions. I would never pretend otherwise.

anon - Blue with a touch of green I can live with. Just about sums it up.

Ivor - Because of what the term 'Nationalist' has come to mean, I'm not sure that its applicable to me. I'm a very proud Welshman, with a growing committment to the language and culture of my nation. But I'm not a 'socialist' which Plaid were proud to describe themselves as during my term in the National Assembly. Its also the case that my unswerving committment to a law making Parliament in Cardiff is more to do with with creating a stable British constitution, that moving towards an indepedent Wales, an admission that brings me criticism from Alan and others.

In principle, I agree with the direction of economic policy you support - except that you do seem rather less interventionist than I am! We would disagree about defence, though this is such a confusing area of policy today that its difficult to know where we'll be in a few years time. Basically, I believe we should be prepared to play our part in the defence of liberal democracy, and I'm in no way a pacifist - but we have to be realistic about what the UK can afford.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives did agree a programme, and if the Lib Dems had not suffered a two day brain failure, the deal would probably have been signed off."

You say this Glyn and yet still made this entire post an attack on plaid going into a rainbow coalition? How could they possibly go in with the Lib Dems when they had shown they are massivly split. they have done nothing but attempt to undermine their leader, who in turn has done nothing but refuse to stand by his word and resign. looks to me like they made the right choice!

Glyn Davies said...

anon - Must admit that you make a fair point, which is why I have always put the blame for the failure of the Rainbow Coalition on the Liberal Democrats. However, it is factually true that when Plaid Cymru made the decision to go in with Labour, the Lib Dems had decided to join in - which is why Peter Black insists on accusing Plaid Cymru of being responsible for sinking the rainbow.

My post wasn't really an attack on Plaid - more a bit of political knockabout amongst friends.

Anonymous said...

Simply put my role is to deliver the 2000'wasted' Plaid votes to the Glyn Davies camp. And that's what I intend to do ! I think it could be important.

Ifor Hael said...

Just back from lunch — why should Plaid Cymru have never gone into coalition with Labour ? Think Christine Gwyther. Thank god that Elin Jones has guts . For example one thing that gets my back up is 'urban' people being pro yogurt and anti veal . Veal my left wing friend is a products of the dairy industry so the more yogurt you scoff in your sandals the male calf of dairy herds your produce!

Ifor Hael said...

Glyn - Hesiltine . Welsh and the right man at the right time for the job . Thats what killed th Tory party . I know think that Hague is a good guy but at his age -early thirties- he was a joke as the leader of the Tories. I liked and still like Ken Clarke . Iain duncan-Smith was dead . That's the proplem you see we need more Wigley, more Clarke more Hesiltine- less Duncan Smth less Wyn Jones and less Hugue -although he is getting better! More big beasts!