Lib Dems back in the game

  • Betsan Powys
  • 26 May 07, 01:51 PM

...and you thought it was all over.

Well, it ain't. Hot news from Llandrindod Wells is that the Lib Dems have voted to jump back into bed with Plaid and the Tories... or at least, they'll try to.

The vote from the Metropole Hotel in favour of reviving talks with the other opposition parties was 125 to 77 - a pretty good majority for Mike German and those of like mind who want to see a rainbow alliance.

Coincidence or not, the vote took place in a room which featured a painting of a rural scene with - what else? - a rainbow. In familiar Lib Dem fashion, the voting process was hugely entertaining.

A show of hands was eventually abandoned amid various complaints, including one from AM (step forward Eleanor Burnham) about having to hold her arm up that long, while another member accurately pointed out the difficulties of doing so when you have a broken arm. Again staying true to their green principles, the paper votes ended up in a recycled box. Then the result, showing a 62% majority for a return to the rainbow.

And so the story takes another twist. Stay tuned...

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 03:02 PM on 26 May 2007,
  • Ross (Wales 60) wrote:

Just when the rollercoaster was starting to slow down and the ride was coming to an end, the LDs have added a few extra pieces of track.

Will the rollercoaster take the bait? We'll see . . .

Yet another intriguing week for Welsh politics in the offing I guess.

  • 2.
  • At 05:04 PM on 26 May 2007,
  • David Cooke wrote:

I think after all the posturing and debate of the last few weeks the politicans now have a responsibility to go back to the country. A short time ago we were given the option of voting for one of the four main parties. At no time did the ballot papers suggest that there was only actually a choice of two. Labour or the Alliance Party.

If Rhondri Morgan has any common sense then he'll disband this unholy assembly now and go back to the people to ask them if they want Labour or the Alliance. As a Plaid voter a few weeks ago he could count on my vote, and the thousands of others like me, who didn't realise we were voting for the Conservatives.

If he takes his chance and goes back to the people now, he may not have to worry about leading a minority government at all. In fact judging on the views expressed in the letters page of my local evening paper - he can certainly count on one extra seat.

We'll see just how much political savvy the man in charge has - if he plays the cards correctly - then he may just do us all a favour and get rid of the greasy little powermonger who runs the party I used to support.

  • 3.
  • At 06:12 PM on 26 May 2007,
  • Arfon Jones wrote:

Too little, too late.
Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives would lose credibility if they now accepted the Lib Dems back into a Rainbow Coalition and had a vote of no confidence in the Labour administration. We must live with a minority Labour administration for the time being (until they try and get something stupid passsed...which is very probable)
Of more interest to me at present is the future of the unrepresentative Lib Dem national executive...should those that voted against the rainbow coalition put themselves up for re election, particularly Alex Carlisle who seems to be 'out on a limb,' he called the wrong shots, so let's get shut of him.

  • 4.
  • At 07:20 PM on 26 May 2007,
  • colin williams wrote:

I dont think the people of the South Wales Valleys will support a party that puts a tory in a ministerial position. I believe the leaders of Plaid Cymru and Liberals will suffer at the local elections next year if they form a coalition government.

  • 5.
  • At 07:59 PM on 26 May 2007,
  • BlueFlagRevolution wrote:

Labour could still be left out in the cold. Made my day that has!
Come on the Rainbow!

  • 6.
  • At 08:42 PM on 26 May 2007,
  • Anotheran wrote:

So life gets more interesting again. I'm glad IWJ and NB didn't just dismiss it out of hand on the basis that the Lib Dems had messed things up so much that RM is now back in as First Minister.

Of course, this now puts pressure on RM. Does he again offer coallition with Plaid? Would Plaid take it after being dropped once by the Lib Dems? Does Labour offer the Lib Dems a deal (though LD don't seem to have resurrected that at the conference). Or does he carry on trying to go it alone in minority. That would be much more difficult now that the Lib Dems have done their u-turn.

At least the timeframe is not now forcing a new election in days. But the story goes on and I'm looking forward to your coverage Betsan!

  • 7.
  • At 11:22 PM on 26 May 2007,
  • Dewi wrote:

Liberal Democrats a sick joke of a party...Plaid can't deal with these idiots now - it would make us look really stupid.

"One speaker today claimed that the Rainbow only lasts as long as the sun shines"

Nicely set up, then ...

"the Liberal Democrats have today decided to give it and their Assembly leader, Mike German, the chance to do that.

Not exactly political commentary at its poetic finest, is it, Betsan?

Um ... no. Hands up and I'll hand in my poetic licence Seriol.

We've no idea what that englyn was about but seeing as how you've managed to get us even remotely interested in politics in this house, poetry might be next! It's been a whirl and now it carries on? Can't make up our minds whether all of this is good for Welsh politics or not.

  • 11.
  • At 10:08 AM on 27 May 2007,
  • Anotheran wrote:

Writers that suggest that Plaid or the LDs forming a coallition with the Tories is doing the dirty don't seem to understand the concept of PR. They're not voting for one of two parties as one writer suggested.

A member of the electorate doesn't get to vote for a specific government. They get to vote for an individual to represent them in the Assembly and a party that they feel best represents them at a regional level. Those representatives then get together and between them work out the best way to form a stable government based as strongly as possible on the policies on which they were elected. Hence the documents that Labour prepared for their abortive attempts at coalition with the LDs and Plaid and the document outlining the policies of the rainbow.

The biggest value in PR is that, ideally, no party gets a majority. Thus, by negotiation, the most extreme policies of every party are left out of the final government policy document. I'd challenge any Plaid or Lib Dem voter to look at the Rainbow document and honestly say that it offers fewer Plaid and Lib Dem policies than the offerings of Labour.

Surely a Plaid voter wants Plaid policies implemented, and a Lib Dem voter wants LD policies implemented. The way to do that in a true democracy is to be a part of a government that takes on board some (and in the case of the rainbow document, most) of those polices. No single party will ever get all their policies through unless either they win an absolute majority of the vote, or democracy fails and a party is elected with a majority of the seats on, for example, only a third of the vote!

  • 12.
  • At 10:57 AM on 27 May 2007,
  • bernard powell wrote:

So there are now only two parties in Wales--Labour and Anti-Labour! What a laughing stock my homeland has become!

  • 13.
  • At 12:23 PM on 27 May 2007,
  • Pat Clarke wrote:

A week is sure a long time in politics. The Lib Dems have shown to be immature. The Executive is the voice of the members and will be more familiar with any problems which an alliance may encounter-that is what the executive were elected for, to ask the members to decide is like calling for a referendum as to who should be first minister. Did the Lib Dems put the two options before their members? the Tory alliance or Labour alliance As for PR I think that should now be scraped or maybe we should get the primary school children decide who should form the next government. If the Lib Dems join the Tory Alliance just to bring down Labour then they deserve to be wiped out at the next election which should be sooner rather than later. (A former Lib Dem)

  • 14.
  • At 01:10 PM on 27 May 2007,
  • John wrote:

Yesterday at the 'Special Conference' ,which she was so instrumental in organizing, Jenny Randerson publicly attacked the 9 NEC members who did not believe that the document presented before them was economical or achievable. Those NEC members had a right to hold a different opinion to her but she chose to attack them for their beliefs. She made me feel ashamed to be a Liberal Democrat. She disgraced herself and her party. Words like those have made the rift in the party wider. She should make a public apology to those 9 NEC members. That would be the decent thing to do. Unfortunately, for me, I no longer have any respect for her.

  • 15.
  • At 01:29 PM on 27 May 2007,
  • Vern wrote:

Congratulations must go to those grass root Lib Dems for effectively holding their own Executive to account and reversing Wednesday night's decision. A very brave move which has arguably shown how democratic the Lib Dems really are and that power can be wrestled away from those with posh titles and distinguished histories. Betsan, is it possible that we can be told who this 'team of 20' were so I can send them my thanks? They have just caused a seismic revolution in Welsh politics that may only be truly recognised sometime in the distant future and perhaps deserve more credit that Mike German is currently getting today.

  • 16.
  • At 04:34 PM on 27 May 2007,
  • Harry Hayfield wrote:

When I cast my constituency ballot for the Liberal Democrats, I did it to try and get a Liberal Democrat AM in my constituency.

When I cast my regional ballot in Mid and West Wales for the Greens, I did it knowing that although I wanted a Liberal Democrat regional member with two Lib Dem constituency AM's assured, the Lib Dem regional vote would be divided by three (making it neigh on impossible) so wanted my vote to used constructively.

I did not at any point vote for a Plaid / Con / Lib Dem coalition (if I had wanted to I could have voted Plaid / Con / Lib Dem on the constituency ballot and the same on the regional list ballot but that would have spoiled my ballot paper).

Perhaps we need a second election, this time with only the top two candidates in each seat eligible for nomination. That would really focus minds.

  • 17.
  • At 11:19 PM on 27 May 2007,
  • Hawksie wrote:

Vyvyan from "The Young Ones" summed it up two decades ago - "Bored, bored bored, bored, bored!". Whoever gets to be First Minister or whichever coalition gains power nothing will change. Nobody really cares. Come on windbags, get on with it or give it up.

  • 18.
  • At 11:38 PM on 27 May 2007,
  • Niel Jenkins wrote:

Plaid(who i voted for) how can a so called socalist party work with the Conservatives after their track record in Wales they deserve to be excluded from Wales for ever! So as for Plaid if they get into bed with the tories they can kiss my life long vote for them goodbye and Rhodri or his sucessor can look forward to it... If we have the rainbow coalition I want fresh elections so i can switch my vote from Plaid to Labour!

  • 19.
  • At 11:51 AM on 28 May 2007,
  • John wrote:

If they did badly, he’d go. He’s still there. They wouldn’t be part of a Minority Government, they are. The latest offering is ` a stable Government ’ ( if he used it one he used it a hundred times ). But a couple of days later we’ve got everything but a stable Government. Can we believe anything we hear from now on ?.

It appears to be more about personal ambition than what’s best for the people of Wales. Human nature I suppose, Politics is a career first and a vocation second.

This may appear cynical, but I think the people of Wales and not the Politicians are going to be losers in this continuing fiasco. There is no stable Government for Wales. Not today, tomorrow or the foreseeable future.

The LDs switch allegiances like some change their underwear. Mr German might be the Captain of the ship, but others have got their hands firmly on the rudder. If this Rainbow Alliance becomes a reality how long will it be before Government of Wales is offered back to Labour in the halls of Westminster as concession for backing a LD policy for the UK ?.

I think this whole affair is damaging for Politics in Wales. While the minority Parties might feel ebullient about the situation now, if a stable Government is not achieved it could be the death knell for proportional power sharing in the future. The people of Wales will realise that stable government only comes from overall control and this, unfortunately, is best served by a two Party voting choice.

On a lighter note, all this makes for great Political commentary and we get to see a lot more of the gorgeous originator of this Blog.

  • 20.
  • At 12:50 PM on 28 May 2007,
  • SmallTree wrote:

There is a saying ‘a thing worth having is a thing worth waiting for’. The contradiction is, in this fast moving political scenario, it is still true. The political growth we are experiencing is smallish but it is sure, it is much like the acorn and the eventual oak tree.

It is clear that that irrespective of how you look at the election figures the people of Wales are changing allegiances and changing political dimensions. The historic party labels are no longer that relevant. There are new politicians, new ideas and new relationships and the uncomfortable fact is the labels are becoming incorrect.

From the LibDem decision last Saturday, the hard work commences, discussion regarding a Rainbow Coalition, resolving what are real blockages (usually finance and process) from an imaginary one ideology/dogma. The hardworking people of Wales expects the rainbow politicians to do their duty – stop arguing, scoring points and get on with developing and delivering as many of the policies they espoused as possible with budget in hand, and try to get more finance as is possible.

The political landscape has already changed the economic weather whilst not turbulent the forecast is poor weather ahead for Wales. The single party state is finished in Wales we had all better get used to that and adjust and get working.

  • 21.
  • At 07:57 PM on 28 May 2007,
  • Ali wrote:

I frankly am sick of tribal politics in Wales. Why doesn't everyone just move on and accept that in this PR age coalitions need to be formed and if they contain the Tories, so what? This doesn't need to be a country where people exclude others for what happened decades ago or just to spite them. We need to grow up or this 'progressive' nature of politics in Wales is just plain lip-service if you are unable to co-operate with someone on a different part of the spectrum to you.

What we also must remember is that this Conservative party isn't the national Tory party - they are accountable only to the Welsh voters and aren't some distant entity in Westminster. So I think we should give them a chance and see how it goes. Because I would have the rainbow manifesto over this tired and prehistoric Labour party anyday.

Glad the prospect of a Rainbow coalition is back on the cards, but think Plaid & Co should wait for the right time before pulling the rug out from under Rhodri's rotten regime. Let Labour trip up first - it shouldn't take long! In particular, keep an eye on the energy equation...

And in response to "Niel Jenkins" and the "Socialist Wing" of Plaid Cymru these people really need to wake up and realise that Labour IS a Tory Party now so it doesn't make any difference, except that the Tories actually have more progressive policies on Inward Investment etc. (i.e. investing in indigenous welsh business rather than chucking welsh taxpayers money at fly-by-night-Multinationals).

Why is Click here for our Welsh language election blog. written in English?

  • 24.
  • At 10:32 AM on 29 May 2007,
  • Arfon Jones wrote:

It's really nice to see comments from real 'progressives' like Ali and Jim Dunckley. Neil Jenkins lives in the past thinking that the Welsh Conservatives are anything like Thatcher's Tories...he needs to get over it and get on with life. Aren't the valleys a more pleasant and healthy place to live since the demise of heavy industries, what we need are entrepreneurs not 'whingers' harking back to the past. Perhaps the Welsh Conservatives should consider changing their names to Christian Democrats, which might be more acceptable to our 'comrades,' we could all then get on with doing what is best for Wales and its people. Up the Rainbow Coalition.

  • 25.
  • At 11:04 AM on 29 May 2007,
  • Richard Harris wrote:

Listening to Radio Wales yesterday morning ~

Wonderful interview with Dr. Dai Lloyd (Plaid ~Angry) insisting that the Lib Dems were garbage and had "totally failed Wales", just after Mickey German had outlined the "brave new rainbow future" of their respective political lives together in happy clappy coalition.

Lloyd went on to say that Wales had thereby been denided "A Plaid Led Government" (Note : NOT a coalition) and the "coronation" (sic) of IWJ as the first Nationalist Leader of Wales!

ER, which is what we ALL voted for?


Stormy times ahead.


BTW ~ When I campaigned for the Assembly in 1997 in Cardiff (along side many Plaid members), one of the KEY arguements was that the Assembly would act as a bulwark against the Tories...???

For those with short memories, the Tories funded the NO campaign along with Sir Julian Hodge's family (Jersey North) AND were still calling for it to be abolished in 1999 (their "Welsh spokesperson")

ER....SO, now the Tories come back VIA Plaid???


  • 26.
  • At 05:17 PM on 29 May 2007,
  • Anotheran wrote:

I totally agree with the comment from Ali. The trouble is that it's not just bloggers on this site that shout purely tribal politics. It's also some members of the parties in Wales.

Labour has always been tribal and will be the last to change as having been in power for so long they haven't seen the need. But even Labour will change after a little time in opposition in Wales. Even as a Plaid supporter I hope to see a different, more inclusive and more open Welsh Labour come the next election. As long as there is no absolute majority for Labour next time around (either by winning over 50% or because the system has failed and given them over half the seats anyway) I’m sure they’ll be in the melting pot for a coalition in 2011.

I was very disappointed at the LDs for their momentary lapse given the sort of inclusive, representative politics that they claim to espouse. Again, a period of a rainbow government implementing many of their policies should change their point of view considerably. If it does change, I hope that the electorate won’t punish them too hard for the actions of a small group of people on their National Exec.

Some Plaid AMs clearly also have difficulties in getting themselves into the mode of new Welsh politics, but they’ll come around to it. As Ali said, the Welsh Conservatives are accountable to Welsh voters. If they mess it up, they’ll lose their place at the table. If Plaid mess things up by not supporting coalition politics and moving Wales forward, the electorate will take a long time to forgive them.

Which leaves the Conservatives… I’ve been surprised (probably because my mind was tribal too!) The party that was against devolution, against PR and very much against standing on a platform with Plaid was the one that actually seemed most keen to make Welsh politics work. Clearly there is an ulterior motive in that if they make it work they also get some element of power. But that’s what PR and modern democracy is about. What were their motives? Frankly I don’t care as long as Welsh politics moves forward away from tribalism and into an adult scenario that gets as many polices, supported by as wide an electorate as possible, implemented. But they will be scrutinised every step of the way. If the old Conservatism comes back it will take a very long time for the other parties, or the electorate, to ever trust them again.

So now on with the show… bring on that vote of no confidence! (Is that too tribal?)

  • 27.
  • At 07:55 AM on 30 May 2007,
  • Ash wrote:

Bring on the rainbow coalition.

It's starting to get boring hearing stories of why the Tories should not be allowed into a coalition.
At the end of the day, Plaid will be the largest party in the coalition. It's not like the Tories can just get up and do anything they like. There will be set policies and let's be honest, on paper, policies from all parties are all very similar. At least in a coalition, we get the best of them all and we can get the chance to see what a non Labour government can do.

Llywodraeth Clymblaid Enfys nawr!!

  • 28.
  • At 10:17 AM on 30 May 2007,
  • Dafydd wrote:

I can't understand why most critics of the current PR system now in place in Wales are viewing the whole process from an insular point of view. Perhaps if they looked at other countries who have had PR for decades, looked at the success these countries have had with various coalitions, and then try and transpose it to Wales, then they could come up with something a bit more constructive. Like it or lump it, we now have PR. The way forward is not to harp on about how good the old system was. It wasn't - it was a terrible system. People are however reluctant to change, and the Welsh seem to excel in this characteristic. If we want to have a more major part on the world stage, we have to prove we are politically mature enough to cope with it.

  • 29.
  • At 08:29 PM on 30 May 2007,
  • anon wrote:


where are you?

not another disappearing post election blog surely?

  • 30.
  • At 08:18 PM on 31 May 2007,
  • John wrote:

Has the blog moved/stopped/been cut off!?
Why aren't you getting you're own now that the election is over - like Scotland & NI political editors now have?
Keep up the good work I hope...

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