Friday, May 25, 2007

Commonsense prevails in Cardiff

It's a long while since I covered Welsh politics in any detail - I was political editor of the South Wales Echo in the mid-90s - but I remember enough about it to know that the "rainbow coalition" idea between Plaid Cymru, the Lib Dems and the Tories was a complete and utter nonsense.

As Rhodri Morgan, now rightfully reinstalled as First Minister points out, there is a natural centre-left or "progressive" majority in Wales and any coalition which failed to reflect that would not have had the support of the Welsh people.

I suppose one can't really blame Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones or Tory leader Nick Bourne for clutching at straws in the way they did, but I thought better of the Lib Dem leader Mike German. In the end he was unable to carry even his own party with him on the rainbow coalition proposal. He should quit.

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Normal Mouth said...

Like you say, it's been a while

Lee Waters said...

Oh dear, an unusually misjudged post. Welsh politics has moved a long way since you covered it from the Lobby.

Paul Linford said...

What have I misjudged exactly? That the rainbow coalition was really the most brilliant idea to hit Welsh politics since we ditched the Cardiff Bay Opera House? That it wasn't Mike German who broke off talks with Rhodri in the hope of cobbling together something with Plaid and the Tories? Do tell.

Lee Waters said...

Well, you say the rainbow coalition idea was complete and utter nonsense, and runs counter to the 'natural centre-left' majority in Wales. This is where I think your grasp on developments in Welsh politics is a bit out of date, for perfectly understandable reasons. The document agreed by the negotiating teams of the three parties was pretty radical and progressive - it included an annual 3% reduction in carbon emissions and a referendum on PR in local Government. Against a Labour manifesto that even Rhodri morgan described as 'boring'.

Who would have thought 10 years ago (when Wales was a 'tory free zone') that Conservatives would sign up to a new Welsh language Act and a review of the Barnett formula, or that Plaid Cymru would sit alongside Tory Ministers?

You may not agree with what they are up to but it's a little trite simply to dismiss it as nonsense. It is, I think, a serious assault on Labour's claim to be the natural party of Government in Wales. Rhodri Morgan saw a swing to the Tories more than double of that achieved in England and Scotland. It's difficult to put all that down to Blair. Labour's share of the vote was their lowest since 1918. It is hard to simply say that without PR Labour would be fine.

There are interesting things happening in Welsh politics. You are one of the few Westminster (or ex in your case) observers to pass comment on it. But if I may say so, respectfully, things have moved on since you last covered it from London.

Paul Linford said...

Okay, thanks for talking the trouble to pen such a considered reply.

I hear what you're saying, and I would be the last person to claim that the Welsh Labour Party has, historically, been a "progressive" force, but my main problem with the rainbow coalition idea was the presence of the Tories. How can any coalition with Nick Bourne in it be described as "progressive?"

Lee Waters said...

Ok, I give you that. Bourne may be doing it for good old fashioed political calculation, but just look at the agreed programme: