An agreement to move Wales forward

Today, Leanne Wood and Carwyn Jones will make a joint statement regarding the agreement reached to overcome the deadlock in nominating and appointing a First Minister. 

It is clear what this won’t be. 

It will not be an announcement of a formal (nor in formal) coalition. Plaid have made clear that they intend to be an effective opposition, unlike that of the Conservatives in the last assembly.

It won’t be an announcement of a ‘supply and confidence’ agreement where Plaid props up a Labour minority government for the next 5 years.

What will the announcement be?

This agreement is for one vote- that of appointing a First Minister. The will be a minority Labour government.

For this Plaid has won many concessions from Labour. These include:

  • Re-structure the committee process, which will strengthen the process of scrutinising the government.
  • Establish bilateral committees to examine legislation, budget and constitutional matter. This will put Plaid in an unique position to hold the government to account and have a hand in important developments.

Plaid has also successfully won concessions on 5 of their 9 election pledges. Although details of these will be announced later today, they range from commitments on childcare to working on a New Treatment Fund for the NHS.

In the first week of the Fifth Assembly, Plaid have shown that they are an effective opposition which will ensure that the people of Wales get the best possible deal. 

Just imagine what they could achieve on government in 5 years time!

Ieuan to go

Picture: Plaid Cymru

So, Ieuan Wyn Jones has announced that he will go in the first half of this Assembly term. I doubt I’m the first one to raise the question, “who will be in the running?”

First of all I should consider whether this is a good thing for the Party.  I was intending to wait until Carwyn Jones had announced his government before blogging about why Ieuan should go.  Yes, Ieuan led the party into a coalition government for the first time, and had served as Deputy First Minister from 2007 to 2011.  And yes it was Plaid with him at the helm who secured a referendum on ‘more powers to Wales’ – all of which, achievements and milestones.

However, between 2000 and 2011, Plaid has slipped from a strong second Party in Welsh politics, to a weak third.  1999 was a strong showing, maybe a swell of support for due to the creation of the new Assembly, and a sense of pride in our new fledgling democracy.  However the following 3 election weren’t to live up to the success of the first.  It is certainly time for Plaid

Eleven years is a very long time to lead a party, and it certainly time for Ieuan to step aside.  Plaid needs to identify its purpose, what will its role be in this decade?  What is the next step in the national project?  So, who then could possibly take over from Ieuan?

Here are, who I think could be contenders (in no particular preference):

Rhodri Glyn Thomas:  This would not be a step forward for the Party.  I believe this would be much of the same, it would be a continuation of what we’ve had over the last decade.  However, he could be a possible stop-gap untill 2016, when Adam Price might return to Welsh politics.

Simon Thomas:  Although he is a newbie to the Assembly, a novice he is not.  Former MP and special advisor to the previous Welsh government, Simon certainly could be what Plaid needs to take it forward.

Leanne Wood: Could Leanne, who is on the left-wing of the Party, win enough support to lead the Party.  A few have already suggested that she could be what the Party needs to win in the Valleys and North East Wales.  I for one don’t think that it’ll be as easy as that.

Dafydd Elis Thomas:  Of course lets not forget the former Presiding officer.  Never one to shy away, could Dafydd be tempted to take the leadership once again?  He’s already said how Plaid worked well with Labour, could Plaid under him find itself in perpetual coalition with Labour?

Elin Jones: One of the Plaid ministers in the previous Government, I think Elin would be a popular leader with both left and right in the party.

Or could there be a surprise contender?  Interesting times.

The end of the Condem coalition.

Shortly after the formation of the ConDem coalition last year I predicted that the government wouldn’t last more than a year. Well, it’s almost a year and the coalition still stands… for now. I might have been a bit hasty in my prediction, however the situation seems more fragile than ever.

The last year has been relatively plain sailing because it’s only now an issue that is close to the Lib Dems’ hearts. I’m not sure why commentators are acting surprised by this though, it was inevitable that the government would be split on the issue of AV.

May will not be a good month for the Lib Dems, they could very well AV slip through their fingers at the same time hundreds of their councillors in England face being turfed out of their wards – and as for the Lib Dems in Wales, well they could possibly find themselves with as little as 2 seats in the Assembly.

With all of these factors considered I feel confident in saying that the Westminster government won’t last until 2015. I would go so far as to say that the coalition won’t be in place this time next year.

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(c)The Prime Minister's office