Watched John Dixon, Chairman of Plaid Cymru on today's Politics Show. He was trying manfully to explain Plaid Cymru's 'position' on the thorny issue of top-up fees in Wales to Felicity Evans. John assured us with great clarity that Plaid Cymru, at their special meeting held in Aberystwyth yesterday, reaffirmed its policy of total opposition to top-up fees in Wales. Personally, I don't agree with this position (though I accept that the Conservative Group in the National Assembly may well take a different view - and its a matter for them). However its understandable and its consistent. What is much more interesting is the position of Plaid Cymru's Assembly Members - in particular the position of the three Plaid Ministers. They have to face up to the 'reality' of politics - not some hypothetical possibility.
It's reported that the Leader of Plaid Cymru informed yesterday's meeting that he will not be able to deliver on this policy - that he may not be able to persuade his Cabinet colleagues not to go ahead with its plans to introduce top-up fees. Felicity didn't ask John Dixon whether Ieuan Wyn Jones would try to persuade them, and how hard he would try. Either yesterday's vote was an empty gesture, designed to appeal to the student vote, or a policy that the Party Leader must try to force through Cabinet. The statement that he will 'not be able to deliver' suggests that an effort to force it through will be made. This will require the submission to Cabinet of a carefully worked up 'alternative' budget. It will be interesting to learn what budget changes he will put to his Cabinet colleagues as he, Elin Jones and Alun Ffred Jones battle to persuade them to change their minds. I can see some very interesting exchanges coming up in the Assembly Debating Chamber over the next few weeks, as opposition AMs try to extract details about these discussions.
I also hope this puts an end to all this blogging by Plaid supporters who make such a song and dance about differing opinions in my party about future constitutional changes in Wales - particularly in respect of a 'hypothetical' referendum on law-making powers. Yes, that's the referendum that was promised before 2011 by the Labour/Plaid Cymru Coalition when it was formed, and which is now being quietly dropped.