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!

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Public Prime Minister’s Questions?

In one of his many reinventions, Ed Miliband outlined his idea of creating a Public Prime Minister’s Questions where the public will be given the chance to question the Prime minister on any issue.  Sound’s like a good and progressive step forward for democracy doesn’t it?  The problem with this of course is that the current PMQs, where MPs question the Prime Minister every Wednesday is already a sham. The weekly question time is nothing more than a public relations exercise where the Government and the opposition try to one-up each other for the cameras, and back benchers try to make a name for themselves.

I can’t see how a Public Prime Minister’s Question time will be an extension of this, where it will be a well rehearsed show rather than a true opportunity for the public to scrutinise the Prime Minister.  The second issue I take from this plan is that we live in a representative democracy.  We give a mandate to MPs to carry out three primary functions, to represent, to legislate and to scrutinise.  Why would allowing the public to scrutinise the Prime Minister as well as our representatives revolutionise our democracy?  It won’t.

Unfortunately, like many things with Labour and Ed Miliband, this is another gimmick; pure electioneering.  Why not announce that we will have referenda on all legislation?  Why not hold a raffle to give a different member of the public a chance to be Prime Minister for the day as a way getting them more involved in politics?  Although the latter idea of mine might increase Ed Miliband’s chance of being PM!