Wednesday 16 May 2007

Bring it on........

The more I think about it, the more I realize that this assembly election will prove to be pivotal in our fight for independence. If Labour had managed to achieve a majority then we could forget independence for maybe 20 years, by which time, due to English immigration, we might never achieve it.

On the other hand, a Plaid majority today might also have put the cause back years, as our poor calibre candidates (with a few obvious exceptions) would probably have made a mess of power, and would be punished accordingly in the next polls – look at Merthyr & RCT councils if you want any historical examples – and we are back 20 years again.

But the current result should prove an excellent springboard for the 2011 elections, - the Plaid contingent are large enough to wield real power and demonstrate their capability – while at the same time knowing that they will have to work hard to achive any success, and confine themselves to realistic policies.

As I write this I do not know how the power negotiations with Labour will work out. As I see it, the LDS could be bought off with the promise of STV voting in local councils, but I do not see Labour agreeing to that (even if LDs could agree with themselves). Labour could not deal with the Conservatives, as it would destroy any credibility they have left, which brings us back to Plaid.

Plaid could be offered a formal coalition with Labour (over the dead bodies of Huw Lewis, Leighton Andrew & others) but I think it unlikely. Plaid will more likely be offered a non-coalition deal, which would actually be better for them in the long term as it would be non-tainted. I am certain that Plaid will insist on a new Welsh Language Act & a referendum on a Scottish style parliament as the price for their support, and if Labour agree it will be a good result, and Plaid can concentrate on achieving real power in 2011, with independence by 2020.

But I don’t think that certain ostrich-like Labour egos will permit this, and will refuse to compromise with anyone. At this point there are two options. First is to let Plaid form a Rainbow coalition, but the clever option would be to let Rhodri get elected as First Minister, and then to use the combined opposition votes to ridicule and frustrate Labour ambitions, and to then bring him (or one of his potential successors) down a few months later, with the same result – a Rainbow coalition led by Plaid.

Labour strategists have considered this and realize that they can play on the fear of the Tory bogeyman running our schools and hospitals. They also realize that with the multicoloured team in Cabinet, they can dominate the committees and frustrate the WAG at every turn. But this can be easily countered – firstly the Cabinet must be limited to only say 6 ministers covering the major portfolios. The other portfolios must be dealt with as non-cabinet positions, which would allow more non-Labour people in the committees. And with only 6 cabinet ministers, Plaid would then only need to agree to 1 Conservative Minister – and give him/her a non-sensitive position, such as agriculture. Most farmers vote Tory anyway.

The result should be that in 4 years Plaid will become the largest party in a new expanded Parliament. That is by no means guaranteed, but I feel far more positively about our chances of achieving independence by 2020 or earlier.

9 comments:

Che Grav-ara said...

Very interesting post. I too believe it would be very benificial for Plaid to have an agreement from outside the government. If they can secure and agreement on a New Welsh Language Act, a referendum on a Scottish Style Parliament and maybe a few other possible concessions, barnett formula funding, stopping hospital closures etc they will have achieved many of their main aims in this assembly term. At the same time they would still be in opposition so will not be tainted by any labour failures and can still run a scrutiny role. This would also have the added bonus of pushing the tories even further into the political wilderness having not been involved in power or been an official opposition party.

Alternitivly i think your correct about the rainbow. if that is the route to go it would be far better to let Labour hang themsleves and then form the rainbow to resolve the issues rather than form it and take the hit for Labour's failures.

MH said...

I wonder about whether Plaid in government will be a good thing in this Assembly term. Whatever happens will be messy, and there will be sh** thrown around everywhere as each party gets frustrated. It might just be best to stay in honourable opposition and wait for the 2011 election.

I agree that the two things that matter most are the referendum on a Scottish style parliament and Welsh Language Act. But the more important of these is the Parliament. I think it almost certain to come about when Labour think they are in danger of losing power in Westminster. They are not going to want to work with a Tory Welsh Secretary ... all they have to do is get the timing right so that they get the legislation through before the Tories actually get in.

I can't see Labour calling a UK general election now (people are too angry about GB's coronation, and would want to punish him) and the Tories are just going to get stronger as time goes on. UK elections work on a "Buggin's turn" basis and 12/13 years of Labour will be too much for anyone. There has to be an election in 2009/2010 so my guess is that Labour will say in early 2009, "We've had time to see how the 2006 GoW act worked, it's worked well, so now's the time to go a Parliament with law making powers." We could have a referendum in the Autumn and everything would be in place for a Welsh Parliament elected in 2011. Plaid, Labour and the LibDems will all urge a "yes" vote with only the Tories against. It should be easy to get a "yes".

For this to happen Labour (ironically) need to feel relatively secure. So perhaps we (Plaid) shouldn't rock the boat too much until after the "yes". Is that being too negative?

Plaid's job is to work themselves into being the natural party of opposition. Labout lost their share of the vote virtually everywhere in May, but the vote didn't naturally go to Plaid ... a lot of it went to the Tories. This horrifies me ... I would never have thought it possible in Wales.

Penddu said...

The reason we have the prospect of the Tories in power in Wales, is because of the blind loyalty of Labour voters in the Valleys. If the Valleys vote for Plaid in 2011 then we will not need the Tories, so to summarise:

Vote Labour Get Tory

VOTE PLAID GET PLAID !!!

MH said...

Penddu, you say "if the Valley's vote for Plaid in 2011" ... but that's a HUGE "if". Why didn't they do it THIS time round? To blame it on "blind loyalty" seems inadequate to me.

Plaid have got to WIN that vote, the question is HOW. What do you think Plaid's strategy should be? What should they focus on that MATTERS to the people of Labour's heartlands?

Penddu said...

In the 1999 assembly election, Plaid achieved 73,000 votes in the 9 Valleys seats (Ogmore to Torfaen) representing 35% of the vote compared to Labour’s 48%.
This collapsed in 2003, to only 36,000 representing 20% of the vote against Labour’s 58%.

In 2007, despite a deeply unpopular Labour party, and an impressive Plaid campaign at national level, Plaid stood still in the Valleys. Despite a modest increase in votes from 36,000 to 38,000, the actual percentage fell to 19%, at a time when the Labour vote fell to only 43%. Even though they did not stand in all Valleys seats, a combination of Independent candidates managed to attract 35,000 votes – many of these had presumably voted Plaid in 1999.

This election proved that the Labour vote in the Valleys is softening and is there for the taking – but Plaid are not seen by the electorate as the natural alternative. This year the Independents were the challengers, but they suffered due to a lack of organization and resources. Plaid might not be so lucky next time around especially if the Liberal Democrats get their act together, like they have in Pontypridd.

Plaid’s strategy in the Valleys is clearly not working, and is in need of some marketing.

Penddu said...

I think that we can now rule out the LDS as a realistic political party, and must look to the future.

Ron Davies has been very quiet throughout this debacle and I predict a significant announcement on a new 'Forward Wales' shortly........

Charlie Marks said...

what do we make of the revolt by the women of plaid?

Gath Clag said...

As a Scot I would be delighted if Wales got a parliament on the level of Scotland. However, they must develop their own legal and education systems, and a proper English language media outside S4C.

Citystate said...

Gath Clag's comment re: a greater English language media for Wales is something I heartily agree with. Thi would be more beneficial than some new Welsh language act in getting the Welsh majority thinking along lines condusive to a Plaid victory next time round.