Over the rainbow

  • Betsan Powys
  • 17 May 07, 11:26 PM

So they've done it. The rainbow coalition partners are about to put Labour out of government in Wales.

Time only for some quotations and questions:

Lib Dem Exec: "Whichever way we look at this, it is a historic night for our party."
Peter Black: "And Waterloo was a historic night for Napoelon."

Mike German: "I've long believed in a non-Socialist alternative for Wales".

Plaid Cymru: "This will obviously change the dynamic of the negotiations".

A pro-Labour coalition Lib Dem: "Nick Bourne has seen off all his enemies and put the Tories back in power for the first time since 1898. Now he'll squeeze us to death".

Where was Lembit Opik, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats on "the most historic night for the party since Lloyd-George was around?"

He was recording an edition of "Have I got news for you?"

And one clarification. Peter Hain says he didn't say a Labour/Plaid deal was off the cards on tonight's Good Evening Wales. He said 'absolutely not' to a deal between Plaid and the Conservatives.

It seems that even a couple of hours is a very long time in politics.

Bits and pieces

  • Betsan Powys
  • 17 May 07, 04:58 PM


Just thought I'd share the title of the latest press release to arrive in my in-tray.

Did anyone say anything about a rainbow?!

From Peter Hain on Good Evening Wales the claim that Welsh Labour could 'certainly not' strike a deal with Plaid Cymru but is still on track to strike a deal with the Lib Dems. What does Rhodri Morgan make of that, given that Labour and Plaid negotiators were talking this afternoon?

And from a master blogger who finds himself without a voice, comes this. The Cardiff Bay tour dates, he points out, are yet to be confirmed.

Key to the door

  • Brian Taylor
  • 17 May 07, 03:56 PM

Throughout the campaign, the SNP leaders - mostly - contrived to subdue their smiles.

Or, at the very least, to ensure that they stopped well short of smirk status.

But you could scarcely blame them for grinning fairly broadly as they entered Bute House today for their first Cabinet meeting.

I'd like to think they indulged in a quick collective gloat followed by a group rendition of Flower o' Scotland.

But I know, of course, that they're much too serious.

The old house in Edinburgh's Charlotte Square hasn't seen such doings since it was designed by Robert Adam in 1791.

For more than 40 years, it's been the official residence of the Scottish Secretary - followed by successive first ministers.

Since devolution, it's been the base for Scottish Cabinet meetings - matching the dual function of Downing Street.

But never before has it housed a Nationalist.

PS: Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon arrived in a government Volvo. The other Ministers arrived, together, in two Toyota Prius vehicles.

These, apparently, are hybrids with an electric motor and a petrol engine, designed to cut emissions. They are, according to the manufacturers, "mean but green".

How apt - given the desire of our new rulers to cut costs and help the environment.

The Llandrindod Accord?

  • Betsan Powys
  • 17 May 07, 02:12 PM

Forgive the new strapline - 'from the inside track'. As someone has already said, it makes me sound like Paula Radcliffe. The whole blog will be 'migrating' soon but more on that when it happens.

All eyes on Llandrindod then and whether Mike German comes out of the National Executive meeting backing one horse or other. One reliable voice says he will because he now has to. How he couches it is, of course, is another matter. But for what it's worth he's agreed to appear on Good Morning Wales tomorrow so he must think he'll have something worth saying.

Which way will he jump?

Plaid and Lib Dem negotiators are talking now. The 'we don't do limbo' Conservatives are in the loop. We're starting to hear snippets of real detail that potential rainbow partners are hammering out. People who last week laughed at the very suggestion of a rainbow coalition are warming to the idea so fast it makes your eyes water.

But hang on. This morning we're told that some of those Labour members who'd been convinced a deal with Plaid was truly on the cards and that some around the leadership preferred that option, are relaxing. They, at least, seem to have been reassured that party 'X' in the document leaked to the Western Mail are the Lib Dems and that Mike German will be able to sell his party a deal along those lines tonight. The suggestion is that they hope they were all fooled by their own leader as part of an elaborate bluff.

One legged swans, one red herring?

By the way the two special conferences - the Lib Dems' and Plaid's - will be both be held in Aberystwyth on a week Saturday. I'm told they may both be heading to the National Library. Should the title of this post read; "Treaty of Penglais Hill?"

A defining moment

  • Mark Devenport
  • 17 May 07, 01:16 PM

Forget May 8th - when the history books are written it's May 17th they'll all be talking about. Why? Well that was the day this blog finally acknowledged that the Assembly election campaign finished some time ago and migrated to a new home on the web. After being overcome by popular demand (well 3 comments anyway) the BBC has decided to keep this blog going indefinitely. The new working title is "The Devenport Diaries" and you should be able to find it here.

Thanks very much to all those who have read and commented on the blog so far. We can't migrate the archive over to the new site, but rest assured those historians looking for a defining moment will be able to read your comments on this site, which should be preserved for posterity.

Handbags and gladrags

  • Brian Taylor
  • 17 May 07, 11:46 AM

Day One - and he's getting presents already.

I'm talking about our new first minister, Alex Salmond.

This morning he went to the Court of Session to be sworn in as FM, the Royal Warrant having arrived overnight.

He was given custody of the Scottish Seal, on behalf of Her Majesty.

The original Great Seal of Scotland dates back to 1094 when it was first used by King Duncan II. I believe the modern version only dates back to around 1885 when the newly created Scottish Secretary in the UK overnment was made the custodian.

Anyway, Alex is now the Keeper.

And, if I remember aright, he gets a Goodie Bag too - perhaps better known as the Purse.

As Purse bearer, he has to carry a little bag when he is accompanying the Queen on official engagements.

The Scotsman newspaper reported when J. McConnell was first sighted with the Purse that "there really isn't a cool way for a bloke to carry a handbag."

Treat it as a challenge, FM.

Signed and sealed

  • Brian Taylor
  • 17 May 07, 06:29 AM

Yesterday afternoon I interviewed the first minister in St Andrews House. (For those still catching up, the new FM is one A. Salmond, the leader of the SNP).

I interviewed him in the FM's walnut-lined office suite. (I won't tell you which SNP assistant had to ask me where the FM's office was.)

As in the election, he was in emollient mood. Yes, he'll publish a White Paper on an independence referendum - but, yes, he understands the parliamentary arithmetic.

That means he won't attempt to legislate now. A wise choice: he'd lose.

Yes, he'll seek additional powers from London. But he won't demand.

A wise choice, again.

And now we have his Cabinet. Nicola Sturgeon at health, Fiona Hyslop at education, Kenny MacAskill at justice, Richard Lochhead at rural affairs - and John Swinney, Alex Salmond's successor and predecessor (Mr Salmond's been leader twice), at finance.

No place in the top team, for now, for Shona Robison or Fergus Ewing (both of whom had been variously tipped). But they are among the 10 deputies.

Today? These ministers have to be endorsed by parliament - and the new FM will attend the Court of Session to receive the Great Seal of Scotland.

Pinch yourselves, folks, the machinery of state is swinging into smooth action for a Nationalist leader.

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