Jilted at the altar?

  • Betsan Powys
  • 15 May 07, 05:25 PM

Just back from listening to Rhodri Morgan announcing that coalitions 'seem to be ruling themselves out'.

He'll keep talking to the Liberal Democrats and to Plaid Cymru and "we hope to be in a position to form a minority administration but one that has to be supported in order to have some kind of stability and sustainability".

Had the Lib Dems expected him to kick coalition talk into touch?

No. If you heard Lembit Opik on Good Evening Wales, that much is clear.

Now they're wondering why. Does Rhodri Morgan think that Mike German simply couldn't deliver a coalition? Have Labour discussed the big Lib Dem demand on introducing STV to local government elections (sooner rather than much, much, much later ...) and refused to concede any more ground? Is the Labour leader edging towards a deal with Plaid Cymru? Or he is grandstanding?

They clearly don't know.

This from Mike German, who must be wondering what happens now to the deal he must have thought he had within his grasp.

"It's not sensible to arrive at any conclusions at this time. I remain of the belief that the government of Wales should have stability and a clear programme for government."

Mutual Backscratching 2

  • Mark Devenport
  • 15 May 07, 04:57 PM

Blogging today from Westminster where I spent the day watching Bertie Ahern address both Houses of Parliament in the splendid gilt edged surroundings of the Royal Gallery, a chamber which sits between the Commons and the Lords. The Taoiseach took his place in a line of about 30 dignitaries honoured in this way before. They include Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev and General De Gaulle. As noted here previously, Ruairi Quinn and Pat Rabbitte both objected to the timing of this invitation in the midst of the Irish General Election campaign. But Fine Gael's Enda Kenny took a different tack, accepting his invitation as a recognition of his party's contribution to the peace process. Certainly the bi-partisan turnout so far as Westminsterwas concerned (both John Major and Gordon Brown were in the audience) shows the British establishment believes May 8th is something worth marking.

And the Lib Dems say ...

  • Betsan Powys
  • 15 May 07, 03:56 PM

We've spoken to 33 of the 40 Liberal Democrat constituency candidates for the Assembly Election.

Of those over two thirds of them - 23 in total (70%) - oppose any deal with Labour. 6 would support a coalition if there's a good deal and 4 refused to comment.

A few choice comments: 'over my dead body'; 'we must be honest, we were both rejected on May 3rd so there's almost a moral reason not to govern together'; 'they're devoid of ideas'.

"Fish or cut bait day".

  • Betsan Powys
  • 15 May 07, 01:32 PM

So the Lib Dems have cancelled tonight's meeting of the Executive. They now meet on Thursday night and as one Lib Dem put it, "Friday is fish or cut bait day".

Labour AMs are gathering now, Plaid meet tomorrow so will the bait still be there? Or will Ieuan Wyn Jones have taken the plunge and made a move?

We know now that the Lib Dems will not move their Special Conference from May 26th despite Labour's increasing frustration that they're leaving it so late. We know too that Plaid Cymru intend to hold a meeting of the National Council on the same day. Only the National Council could overturn its own decision prohibiting any coalition with the Tories in the Assembly (but no bad thing either to have a meeting planned if there's a deal with Labour in the offing.)

Our ringaround of Lib Dem election candidates - of which more later - reveals a strong aversion to striking a deal with Labour. Unless STV in local government elections is on the table, most by far say 'no deal'. Even then no deal in the bag.

Downstairs Labour AMs are gathering for their group meeting. Until now they've made clear their determination not to tie Rhodri Morgan's hands by dismissing a deal with Plaid. Others continue to remind us that the 'worst worst' option would never be acceptable and even murmur a suspicion that party leaders may have had something like this in mind for a while.

By the way I got to within a stone's throw of Cold Knap Lake over the weekend. No one legged swans in sight.

X marks the spot

  • Brian Taylor
  • 15 May 07, 07:15 AM

After exhaustive balloting, we now have the deputies to Alex Fergusson as presiding officer at Holyrood.

They are Alasdair Morgan of the SNP and Trish Godman of Labour.

Unlike Mr Fergusson, they don't have to relinquish membership of their party groups.

PS: There were ironic laughs when George Reid explained the voting system for PO - "mark your ballot papers with an X and fold the paper".

Memories of election night chaos in the Holyrood ballot.

And, again reflecting back to that inglorious night, four MSPs contrived to spoil their papers in the election for deputy presiding officer.

That is not, by the way, a joke.

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