Thursday, 5 November 2009

Plaid Making a Difference - An Increasing Momentum

Plaid leader wants public to vote on Scottish-style parliament on same day as future Assembly election
Jan 4 2007 Western Mail

How it was then.....has anything changed?

PLAID CYMRU will seek an early referendum on more devolution from potential coalition partners after the Assembly election in May. Party leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said the public should vote to give Wales a Scottish-style parliament on the same day as the 2011 Assembly election. In an interview with the Press Association, Mr Jones acknowledged a hung Assembly was almost inevitable in 2007. He said, "Most people expect there to be no party winning 31 seats and therefore some kind of an arrangement is going to be inevitable. All parties have to face that reality."

A referendum would form part of a policy "package" that Plaid would call for in coalition negotiations, he said. The Liberal Democrats will not do a deal unless their coalition partners back proportional representation for local elections - something Labour has ruled out. Mr Jones said his party had no such "red-line issues" and would "judge any arrangements after the election on a number of principles". He said he would not insist on a referendum now because it was "a matter for negotiation", along with policies on health, education, housing and transport. He further diminished the prospect of a so-called rainbow coalition with the Tories and Lib-Dems by labelling the Conservatives "extremely immature".

Relations between Plaid and the rest of the Opposition broke down in early December during the stand-off over the Assembly's Budget. The Assembly will get new lawmaking powers after the election in May as a result of the 2006 Government of Wales Act. It opens the door to a Scottish-style parliament after a referendum. That needs the support of two-thirds of AMs before it can be sought. Labour has insisted there is not the support for more devolution at present and a referendum would be lost if held now.

Mr Jones said, "One of the things that we would want is an assurance that the momentum for devolution would continue. "What that means is that our view is that we would want the next Assembly to be the last under the new arrangements and we would want to find that we would go into the following election in 2011 with either having had the referendum or committed to a referendum during that Assembly. "The current Act, as it stands, allows you to have a referendum as long as two thirds of the Assembly agrees. Well that means you can't do it on your own. "The earliest - and the time which we think would be the ideal time - would be to hold a referendum on the day of the 2011 Assembly election." He added, "It would be a package. You cannot just have one issue.

"So we are not putting that red line in the sand as the Lib-Dems are doing because, frankly, you know, as far as the public is concerned, if they think you are hung up on just constitutional matters or electoral matters then, frankly, how attractive is that?" The Assembly will be able to apply to Westminster for the right to pass laws from May. Mr Jones said, "I don't want, sort of, constitutional change for its own sake. "I want it because that means I can get things done without constantly having to ask, 'Well if I want to do something here, how is Peter Hain going to react?'"

In October the Opposition united to block the minority Government's £14bn spending plans and made a series of demands. But the Budget was approved two months later when Plaid parted company and Mr Jones did a last-minute deal with First Minister Rhodri Morgan to get more money for schools. The Tory and Lib-Dem camps accused him of having caved in for too little. Mr Jones insisted they had breached his trust by briefing against him and overstepping an agreed line on whether they should replace Labour with a caretaker government. He said, "Now the problem we found in addition to this breach of trust was that the Tories in particular were playing up this idea of a coalition before the election, which nobody in their right mind would be proposing before an election for the next four months.

"I mean that's just nonsense politics. "And therefore they had to be told that would not happen and they have shown themselves to be extremely immature in the way that they have reacted." He went on, "The problem I think for the Assembly was that (with) the Opposition parties, that trust broke down dramatically and therefore you couldn't continue with those negotiations and I think that's a lesson that certain individuals will now have to reflect on."

Governing with the Conservatives - who hold one seat less than Plaid's 12 in Cardiff Bay - "was always going to be a difficult issue, but it has been made more difficult by the events of [the Budget]". He said Labour's pre-election slogan that a vote for Plaid would result in a Tory First Minister was "absolutely dead in the water". Mr Jones maintained that his party was united behind him and that it was entering 2007 in better health than for years. It has suffered a succession of ballot-box setbacks - at council, devolved and Westminster elections - since a high point of 1999 when it got 17 AMs.

This year has seen it rebrand itself and embark on policy and PR campaigns. In the spring it handed overall political control of the party to Mr Jones. He said, "I think that my party has grown up as a result of the Budget process by accepting that you have to compromise and take hard choices, whereas if you remain out and out oppositionists you never have to face them." He added, "There are various options being looked at (for 2007) but our position is that we are not looking for second jobs. We are looking for the first job going into the election in May. "That's what the party is keeping its eye on."

He described himself as a "pragmatist" and said the only remaining fault line in Welsh politics was not between left and right, but between those who wanted more devolution and those who opposed it.

Comment: Independence Cymru has said it before.......
it is not a question of left v. right in Wales. It is between unionists and non-unionists, between those who seek to dismember the union and those who wish to keep it, between the "British nationalists" - unionists and the Celtic devolutionists who wish to see an independent Scotland and Wales. The Plaid leader still talks of further devolution but the true aim of Plaid Cymru, as ever, is full independence.
Meanwhile the Labour Triumvirate ( including Mr Hain) try to roll back events and stop the clock. The clock is ticking nevertheless and that day will surely come,
when the Red Dragon flag will fly from Ynys Mon to Amwythig, and from Ty Ddewi to Cas-Gwent.

Footnote: in our recent poll on Dismembering the Union, 82% voted in favour and 11% against with 5% don't knows. Even allowing for the fact that the majority of readers would naturally be pro-independence it is a resounding result. At least it proves that the right people read the right blog ;-)

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