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Archives for June 2007

The Handshake

Betsan Powys | 22:17 UK time, Wednesday, 27 June 2007


So there I was, just one in a huge crowd of reporters and cameramen crammed into a tiny space, waiting to see whether they'd actually do it. Would they shake hands? Would the two old enemies stand in front of that iconic building we've all seen on the news time and again, bury their differences, reach out and shake hands?

They did - the PLO leader, Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that is, 14 years ago on the lawn of the White House. A spontaneous round of applause rippled through the press pack ... the hand of history on our shoulders as someone once said.

So ok, today's handshake wasn't quite that historic but yes, they did it and they were kind enough to do it again in Welsh (if you get my drift). No signs of hugging close or strangling on the steps of the Senedd, though the stories coming from a meeting of Welsh Labour MPs in Westminster tonight suggest they'd like to see some serious throttling going on. And the ink's not yet dried on the 'One Wales/Cymru'n Un' agreement.

We're told that Neil Kinnock was "absolutely devastating" in his attack on the deal. Even the mildest voice talks about "forthright" views exchanged. I wonder whether they'd read Adam Price's Gramsci-inspired blog entry on Plaid's engagement in a 'War of Position' - the long game of pulling Labour in a nationalist direction? No sign of that on the Senedd steps either by the way ...

Why did Plaid go for the red/green option? Because of what the Rainbow couldn't have delievered: the commitment to a joint campaign for the successful outcome of a referendum on full law-making powers, with its agreement to set up an all-Wales Convention within six months to hammer out the details of where we got next. Plaid believe that ties Labour into a new kind of framework that would never have been possible under the Rainbow.

And because - as Ieuan Wyn Jones told Wales Today - he had doubts about whether the Liberal Democrats would have proved to be stable partners in government, much as Mike German would have wanted them to be just that.

So was the triple alliance no more than pie-in-the-sky from the start? No, I don't think so. I don't think Plaid think so. And it's only because Labour didn't think so either that they ever came up with the deal that they did.

Which brings me to some score settling. When my colleague Vaughan and I - with a lot of help from our friends - ran a story during the election campaign suggesting that Labour would consider a deal with Plaid if necessary after May the 3rd, the response from Labour was ferocious.

"Your audience could not have failed to obtain the impression that Welsh Labour is actively considering such a deal. That is not true, we told you consistently that it is not true and yet you continued to run the story" they fumed to our bosses and I mean big, big bosses.

Rhodri Morgan said the story was "rubbish from start to finish. A formal complaint is being made to BBC Wales about their decision to run such a story at such a critical point in the election, despite the story being comprehensively denied by Welsh Labour official sources ... We are certainly not going to be knocked of course by baseless media tittle-tattle."

That's good to know then.

By the way I hear that what was probably the most critical Plaid Cymru meeting in its 82 year old history was blown off course a bit when three AMs started trading lines of poetry. They were trying to remember where 'Cymru'n Un' comes from. They knew it was Waldo Williams ... but how does it go again?

"Ynof mae Cymru'n un. Y modd nis gwn.
Chwiliais drwy gyntedd maith fy mod, a chael
Deunydd cymdogaeth ...
A gall mai dyna pam yr wyf am fod
Ymhlith y rhai sydd am wneud Cymru'n bur
I'r enw nad oes mo'i rannu ..."

I won't attempt a translation but let's just say I wish them all the best as they search for brotherhood amongst those Assembly corridors.


Betsan Powys | 14:14 UK time, Wednesday, 27 June 2007



Leighton Andrews has just uttered the words: "Dewch at ein gilydd yn gytun" in the chamber - with a huge smile on his face. There. Now we know it's truly an historic day!

He's certainly non-plussed Plaid's Alun Ffred Jones who sounds as though all this harmony is getting him down a bit.

To those who don't know the Edwards H Dafis 70s anthem it translates as something along the lines of "Come together in harmony".


How much harmony was there in the Plaid group meeting this morning? The vote to recommend the deal with Labour to the National Council was unanimous but bear in mind that doesn't mean the vote to accept the deal over the rainbow was anything like unanimous.

Red Green it is

Betsan Powys | 12:14 UK time, Wednesday, 27 June 2007


So there we have it.

Red Green it is. After all the stop starting there's something rather appropriate about that ...

The office is awash with politicians. I've just walked in to find Mike German condemning Ieuan Wyn Jones and confirming he's written to Rhodri Morgan. It goes something like this: "I'd be grateful for an opportunity to discuss further developments ..." written by a man who must know the horse has bolted.

Will Rhodri Morgan speak to him at this point? Plaid seem to think not but let's find out. Rhodri Morgan and Ieuan Wyn Jones are meeting on the steps of the Senedd in 10 minutes to shake hands on the deal.

And who's looking very happy this morning? The Tories. I've pretty much seen the whole group and people like Angela Burns are beaming. All blue eyes on the next election.

Off to watch the handshake.

Short and sweet?

Betsan Powys | 09:31 UK time, Wednesday, 27 June 2007


Back in the harness properly today and what a day ...

Musings on polls, fading rainbows, answers to questions asked days ago and much more to come.

And yes, I've seen Adam Price's blog.

A hint comes from Conference Room 20 downstairs that Plaid's group meeting will be short and therefore, by definition, reasonably sweet. Jocelyn Davies and Leanne Wood went for a last minute cigarette, Gareth Jones looked like a condemned man who might like one. The next thing we get a call saying they'll be done by 10.

When there is news, I'll let you know.

From Porth to polls

Betsan Powys | 23:34 UK time, Sunday, 24 June 2007


Radio silence over.

In fact the very moment I switched back on - to Radio 5 on the M5 - the first words I heard uttered, just about, were the incredibly long-winded results of the race for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour party. If I needed something to bring me back down to earth with a bump, there I had it.

The BBC announced that Harriet Harman had won it before the official announcement. Kevin Brennan MP (Government whip, studio guest + Harman supporter) was delighted ... until someone on the production team heard whisperings that caused confusion, panic and a sudden suggestion that Alan Johnson may just have kept her out.

Kevin Brennan sounded gallant but less than delighted.

As Taunton approached, Harriet Harman supporters erupted. I bet she's glad she made it to Llandudno this year and the Welsh party conference. I spotted her doing the rounds, visiting each and every stand. Who knows, she may have squeezed a crucial hanful of votes somewhere between the Police Federation stand and the cafe.

At least Radio 5 got the twists and turns, shaky predictions and last-gasp reprieves over in the space of 15 minutes. We're facing the eighth week of 'crucial 48-hours'.

What do you make of it all? Well we thought we'd ask you. If a coalition it's going to be, which one do you want? We thought you'd favour a Red/Green (aka brown) coalition as you did before the election but - twists and turns - it turns out that in this poll at least, you don't. And by some margin:

41% preferred a rainbow coalition
28% a Labour/Plaid deal
21% a Labour/Lib Dem alliance.

Enough to make a couple of Plaid waverers waver some more?

And another result worth pondering. Yes, Rhodri Morgan is by far the strongest and most popular candidate to lead any coalition government but what of Ieuan Wyn Jones? Just 8% identified him as Plaid Cymru leader in a pre-election poll. The man who might still decide to go for the First Minister's job will prefer to remember this set of results.

Given a straight choice between Rhodri Morgan and Ieuan Wyn Jones 48% backed Rhodri while 34% thought Ieuan Wyn would make a better coalition leader. 18% were undecided.

No change on the referendum question. How would you respond to a referendum that could boost the Assembly's powers - giving it full law-making powers and the ability to raise taxes.

47% were in favour
44% opposed
9% didn't know

- pretty much what you said two months ago when we last asked you.

And to those who think Mr d'Hondt and his semi-PR voting system has a lot to answer for, how about this?

54% think the PR system used for Assembly elections should also be used in Westminster elections. At least Harriet Harman might be with you on that.

By the way for all the health warnings on the poll, check BBC Wales' online coverage.

Aberystwyth mon amour

Betsan Powys | 21:04 UK time, Saturday, 16 June 2007


Congratulations Monsieur Blamerbell/ Llongyfarchion i Monsieur Blamerbell ... aka Cardiff School of Journalism student Ciaran Jenkins, whose blog - to those of you who don't know - was nominated in the CNN International political blog awards last night.

To a woman who spent much of her day surrounded by bards, welcoming the National Eisteddfod to Cardiff next year, "Bravo surtout à Ciaran Jenkins, vainqueur du premier prix" sounds very much like he got through the 'rhagbrofion', stormed the stage and won.

Though the CNN International website is woefully slow in breaking the news another, gracious contestant reports that the most popular blogger 'in the Cardiff region' took the top prize. Blamerbell is probably in a gutter somewhere 'in the Paris region' celebrating with absinthe but when he crawls home, he'll no doubt want to know what happened in Aberystwyth, today.

Plaid Cymru's National Executive has agreed with the Assembly group that Plaid should continue talking to Labour. Gareth Jones, Aberconwy AM, fervently anti red/green, left early. He wouldn't say much but made it clear enough to those who asked that his feelings haven't changed. Others were briefing that the deal with Labour is just too good to turn down: that they've given in on everything Plaid wanted 'and then some'. Intriguing, if true.

I still don't know what that means in terms of a referendum on full powers. Will Plaid accept a 'get-out' clause on the timetable, or not?

On tomorrow's edition of Maniffesto on S4C, Martin Eaglestone - Labour Assembly candidate in Arfon and the man who lost his biro and his way a bit when he launched a guerilla attack on Plaid's conference in Caernarfon - spells out why he's quite relaxed about the 'brown' coalition. Why? Because it keeps the Tories out and that's what really, really matters.

By the way Herbert, we rang around the 40 Labour Party Constituency Chairs this week so that we would indeed get to talk to those who are in favour of, or at least ready to accept a deal with Plaid, as well as those who shudder at the thought. On Friday morning we reported the fact that most were ready to support Rhodri Morgan but that no, there was no love lost.

I looked around the massive UWIC sports hall today and spotted Jenny Randerson, Lib Dem AM and Cardiff Council leader Rodney Berman in the crowd. I bet they were trying their best to listen to the Archdruid but like me, were checking their mobiles to find out the latest news from Aberystwyth.

The rainbow could still make it but how long before the Lib Dems force the pace?

"A oes heddwch?" In the world of Assembly politics, you must be joking.

(Not so) Easy.

Betsan Powys | 15:51 UK time, Thursday, 14 June 2007


I'm no physicist - as Mr Roberts my Physics teacher many years ago would confirm - so I don't know whether it's possible for waves other than sound waves to travel down the line from one studio in London to the other in Cardiff.

But early this rmorning as I sat at the Cardiff end listening to two MPs, Hywel Francis and Wayne David, being asked about yesterday's meeting with Rhodri Morgan, their lack of enthusiasm seemed to roll down the line in great waves.

The mood, said Wayne David, was 'sombre'. It's pretty clear that any deal Labour strikes on holding a referendum on full powers for the Assembly will include a get-out clause of one kind or other.

"Why on earth would we bind ourselves to a timetable on holding a referendum and then find there was no appetite for one, lose the vote and miss out for another generation?" That was the tenor of the conversations I had yesterday.

A ring-around of constituency Chairs today (and more on that to come) suggests so far that the majority could just about stomach the inedible deal if they had to ... unless the unpalatable scrapes itself from the floor and puts itself back on the menu of course. Surely one course too many even to contemplate. Surely?

More from Rhodri Morgan tonight who's being interviewed on Dragon's Eye. Tune in.

Good news for one Welsh MP at least. Martyn Jones has won his libel case against the Mail on Sunday and is £5000 richer. He could afford to buy a full-length tie with that ... and good news too for the Poltical Unit 5-aside football team who last night beat Plaid Cymru 12-7.


(Not so sure they could have taken Plaid/Labour coalition mind ...)

Lib Dems then Labour up next week and the challenge has gone out to the Tories.

And no, it's not true that Plaid called a special conference before they decided who was in goal.

Paddington bound

Betsan Powys | 09:54 UK time, Wednesday, 13 June 2007


Must be busy in Paddington today.

Groundwork done in London, Plaid Cymru's Adam Price MP is already back in Cardiff. What was it I said? 'Be careful what you wish for?'

Rhodri Morgan heads off to London to a scheduled meeting with Welsh Labour MPs. He knows they won't like it but if this is the only deal in town, it's like it or lump it. The question is whether Plaid is demanding they not just accept it, holding their noses but support it - and campaign positively in a referendum on full powers?

Ieuan Wyn Jones simply promises it'll all be sorted - one way or the other - by the end of this term. Yes, someone's already checked what happens if the vote on Saturday is tied. Abd yes, there is a casting vote.

A man's got to do

Betsan Powys | 22:24 UK time, Tuesday, 12 June 2007


Early shift this morning, which meant that at 4.30 pm I was standing in Mothercare, looking for shorts in size 3-4. They always seem to sell out first.

Phone rings.

"How do you fancy red and green?"

I needed pink shorts but got the message. It was time to hurry back to work - children in tow.

"Ife castell yw hwnna? Is that a castle?"
"Na, y Senedd yw e. No, it's the Senedd".

"Can I walk along the wall? Can I bleep us in?"
"No. ME bleep us in".

You get the picture. I took the softly softly, cajoling approach. There's been a lot of that about in Cardiff Bay over the past few weeks. But in the end a Mum's got to do do what a Mum's got to do.

"Fan hyn. Nawr! Come here. Now!"

And it seems a man's got to do what a man's got to do too.

Moses (yes, that one was Rhodri Morgan's) had to deliver and that's what Rhodri Morgan knew. He's persuaded his group (a group that has 'come a long way' we hear) to accept that the only way to stability lay with Plaid and a full-on coalition. That or rainbow coloured P45s and Labour weren't up for those. You look over that cliff ... I wonder if the Secretary of State has taken a peek and come to the same conclusion? What did he say in Llandudno again? A deal between Labour and Plaid was 'not a possibility?' Something along those unambiguous lines I seem to remember.

Why would Plaid go for a red-green coalition rather than a Plaid-led one?

Because they might prefer to be remembered as the group that delivered a referendum for Wales on full powers for the Assembly, rather than the group that delivered the first Plaid First Minister. Rhodri Morgan might have genuinely angered them this morning with his 'warning' on the future dealings of a rainbow alliance with a Labour Westminster government but you get the feeling they've got over it, looked over the shopping list and now just want to make sure this Moses can deliver everything that's on it.

A group of Plaid AMs walked past just as I was about to go on air at 7.45pm. "It's in the bag!" someone shouted. They were, I'm pretty sure, joking but only in that way you do when you know you can afford to.

More talks then - about delivering something Plaid deem acceptable on the language and Labour support for a referendum, not just acceptance that it has to happen.

Then on to Aberystwyth where first the Plaid group, then the National Executive meet on Saturday.

As a Lib Dem put it this afternoon - if Plaid go for this, then the recriminations we went through will seem like a picnic in the park.

Off to London tomorrow to consider a Brown-led future and to convince them that yes, really, the next 48-hours will be crucial for the red-green-rainbow future too.

And worth reporting.

Wish me luck.

Moses and the Acts

Betsan Powys | 12:34 UK time, Tuesday, 12 June 2007


So what did Rhodri Morgan offer Ieuan Wyn Jones at their meeting this morning?

Anything? Something worth having?

Mr Jones won't say until he's met his group this evening but what he will say is that the First Minister's comments immediately after their talks - that only a Labour government in Cardiff can negotiate with a Labour government in Westminster - are "the height of arrogance". He's challenged Mr Morgan to clarify his remarks which were "anti-democratic in tone" and "not helpful".

Pretty helpful to a Plaid leader who wants to persuade his group to push ahead with a rainbow alliance though don't you think? I wonder how long the Plaid rebels will take to find out what was - or may be - on the table.

As one of the lobby muttered this morning: "oh no, not ANOTHER historic day."

Incidentally what led CYTUN - the Churches in Wales Together group - to choose the following readings for the four party leaders to deliver at the service held last week?

I'll leave you to guess who was given what to read ... and why. Oh go on, you know you want to.


On the following day, Moses took his seat to administer justice for the

people, and the people were standing round him from morning till

evening. Seeing all he did for the people, Moses’ father-in-law said to

him, ‘Why do you do this for the people, why sit here alone with the

people standing round you from morning till evening?’ Moses replied to

his father-in-law, ‘Because the people come to me to consult God. When

they have a problem they come to me, and I give a ruling between the

one and the other and make God’s statutes and laws known to them.’

Moses’ father-in-law then said to him, ‘What you are doing is not right.

You will only tire yourself out, and the people with you too, for the work

is too heavy for you. You cannot do it all yourself. Now listen to the advice

I am going to give you, and God be with you! Your task is to represent

the people to God, to lay their cases before God, and to teach them the

statutes and laws, and show them the way they ought to follow and

how they ought to behave. At the same time, from the people at large

choose capable and God-fearing men, men who are trustworthy and

incorruptible, and put them in charge of them as heads of thousands,

hundreds, fi fties and tens, and make them the people’s permanent judges.

They will refer all important matters to you, but all minor matters they will

decide themselves, so making things easier for you by sharing the burden

with you. If you do this – and may God so command you – you will be

able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfi ed.’

Moses took his father-in-law’s advice and did just as he said. Moses chose

capable men from all Israel and put them in charge of the people as heads

of thousands, hundreds, fi fties and tens. These acted as the people’s

permanent judges.

Exodus 18 13-26


The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed

for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held

in common.

The Apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with

great power, and they were all given great respect.

None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land

or houses would sell them, and bring the money from them, to present

it to the Apostles; it was then distributed to any members who might be

in need.

There was a Levite of Cypriot origin called Joseph whom the Apostles

surnamed Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’). He owned a

piece of land and he sold it and brought the money, and presented it to

the Apostles.

Acts 4 32-37


On him will rest the spirit of the Lord,

the spirit of wisdom and insight,

the spirit of counsel and power,

the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord:

his inspiration will lie in fearing the Lord.

His judgement will not be by appearances,

his verdict not given on hearsay.

He will judge the weak with integrity

And give fair sentence for the humblest in the land.

Uprightness will be the belt around his waist,

and constancy the belt about his hips.

The wolf will live with the lamb,

the panther lie down with the kid,

calf, lion and fat-stock beast together,

with a little boy to lead them.

The cow and the bear will graze,

their young will lie down together.

The lion will eat hay like the ox.

The infant will play over the den of the adder;

The baby will put his hand into the viper’s lair.

No hurt, no harm will be done,

on all my holy mountain,

for the country will be full of the knowledge of the Lord

as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 11 2-9


Jesus knew that the father had put everything into his hands, and that he

had come from God and was returning to God, and he got up from table,

removed his outer garment and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his

waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’

feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash

my feet?’ Jesus answered, ’At the moment you do not know what I am

doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘Never!’ said Peter. ‘You shall never

wash my feet.’ ‘If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common

with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ said Simon Peter ‘not only my feet, but my hands

and my head as well!’ Jesus said, ‘No one who has taken a bath needs

washing, he is clean all over. You too are clean, though not all of you are.’

He knew who was going to betray him, that was why he said, ‘though not

all of you are.’

When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back

to the table. ‘Do you understand,’ he said, ‘what I have done to you?

You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and

Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have

given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.’

John 13 3-15

Early birds

Betsan Powys | 10:50 UK time, Tuesday, 12 June 2007


So Rhodri Morgan and Jane Hutt were up early and have been talking already to Plaid's Ieuan Wyn Jones and Jocelyn Davies.

What's on the table? 'All options' according to the First Minister at this morning's lobby briefing - in other words, a direct suggestion that a red-green coalition has not been ruled out.

Mr Morgan will now go back to the Labour group to seek their endorsement to resume talks with Plaid.

An edge to his voice at one point when he made clear that he 'has an ability to negotiate and intercede with Westminster which the rainbow coalition wouldn't". Was that a threat, he was asked? No certainly not, he said, just making the point that he could open more doors than they could.

A morning of lobby briefings ahead: next up, the Conservatives. Talking later to the Liberal Democrats, whose letter of response to Rhodri Morgan bears an uncanny resemblance to Plaid's.

UPDATE: What did Nick Bourne make of Rhodri Morgan's suggestion that the Rainbow Alliance simply wouldn't be able to deliver because they won't be able to 'open doors' in Westminster?

He's starting "to sound like Ceascescu on his balcony". Rather more colourful than the Tory press release which has him down as a "roadblock to reform".

Make me a (much better) offer

Betsan Powys | 18:40 UK time, Monday, 11 June 2007


Dates for your diary.

Plaid Cymru's National Council will meet on July 7th to discuss the All Wales Accord - in other words, to give its backing, or otherwise, to the rainbow coalition. Soon eh? Certainly soon enough to propose a vote of no confidence in this Labour administration before the end of term.

I've given up on predicting which 48 hours exactly will prove to be the crucial ones and for that, Radio Wales listeners will no doubt be eternally grateful but the sense I get is that they're more likely than ever to be during this term. The opposition parties are hearing 'get on with it' and once again, they truly believe they could get on with it if they were minded to.

And with that in mind, read on. Last week Rhodri Morgan wrote to Ieuan Wyn Jones and Mike German with his 'offer' of how the minority Labour administration might work with the other parties. Today Ieuan Wyn Jones writes back.

"I do not feel these sort of arrangements will in the long term give the people of Wales the stable government they need and deserve".

It's not an outright rejection but the olive branch has come back through the post looking pretty mangled. Coalition or bust is the message. Come up with better than the All Wales Accord or else, a very good reason why I should talk to you.

This is how he puts it:

Annwyl Rhodri,

Thank you for your letter of the 6th June. I fully accept that all parties will need to work together, so far as is possible, during the period of a Labour minority administration. Nevertheless, I do not feel that these sorts of arrangements will in the long term give the people of Wales the stable government they need and deserve.

Given the above, please find my response to the points you raised in your letter.

1. I am surprised that you do not refer to Plaid Cymru's request for a Commission of Inquiry into the Barnett formula. As you will be aware, during the discussions between our two parties in the post-election period, Plaid clearly stated that the Finance committee was not an appropriate forum for such an investigation. You claim that such an investigation should be "arms length" from Government, with which I agree wholeheartedly. However a fully independent commission established by the government which would be independent of Assembly members and therefore any party political posturing, would be a far stronger and more credible mechanism for such an inquiry. I therefore cannot offer our support for this proposal.

2. Co-operation on budget negotiations is vital for its success in the Assembly. I will consider the nomination proposal, but would stress that such an agreement will not bind my party to support the budget if we disagree with its content. Co-operation requires compromise, and if there is no evidence of such compromise then co-operation is not possible.

3. I give a cautious welcome to your decision to institute a moratorium on existing proposals for change at community hospital level and your undertaking that already agreed changes in DGH services will not yet be implemented unless and until relevant associated community services are in place. You will be aware that the method of consultation the government adopted was heavily criticised and future consultation must not only be meaningful but must take the views of local communities fully into account. There are, however, a number of specific proposed service changes particularly at the Llanelli and Llandudno hospitals, and with regard to the future of adult neurosurgery, that fall outside the overall reconfiguration process. We would wish to see these changes included in the moratorium. There are also other matters within the health and social services portfolio, including the issue of nurses pay, the need for the government to fully fund the child and adolescent mental health strategies and the opportunity to seek devolution of legislation relating to mental health in order that a Wales only measure can be made upon which we would wish to seek assurances from your government. I suggest that once I have appointed my Shadow Cabinet, my Shadow Minister and the Minister for Health and Social Services hold a bilateral meeting to explore a potential way forward on all these matters.

4. I note your position on public appointments and will obviously continue to work with you on such issues.

5. Your proposal for a working party to be created between our two parties to advise on what preparations would need to be put in place ahead of a referendum being called seems to be nothing more than a delaying tactic, and fails to commit your party or the Assembly Government to holding such a referendum. During our discussions we required your commitment to holding a referendum during this Assembly term, and your party's support and commitment to campaigning for a Yes vote in such a referendum. The proposal set out in your letter is therefore unacceptable.

6. Regular meetings between us are useful, and I welcome a more formalised approach. However, such meetings are only constructive if the subjects to be discussed are held in good faith and have a real impact on the Government's programme.

Also in your statement to the Assembly on the 6 June, you said "a number of potential legislative items ... including action in the fields of mental health, planning, and transport. I have written to the Leader of the Opposition, Ieuan Wyn Jones, on this and wider issues. I make an offer today of detailed discussions between Plaid Cymru spokespeople and Ministers in relation to these matters". However there was no reference in your letter to any proposals on mental health, planning and transport, and therefore I'd be grateful for further information on your proposals for the basis of further discussions between our two parties on these issues.

I look forward to your further response etc

So do I.

Harriet 4 Rhodri

Betsan Powys | 13:27 UK time, Monday, 11 June 2007


A quick one.

We've all jumped out of our seats.

Rhodri Morgan is in the studio just behind me and I can hear him loud and clear on the office's brand new digital radio, declaiming loud and clear that he's backing Harriet Harman as deputy leader of the Labour party. Not Peter Hain? No, though there's no insult intended. It's just that he believes Ms Harman will 'form the best partnership with Gordon Brown'.

Cameraman scrambled ... Will Rhodri M agree to tv interview? Yes, he will. A quick live blog for you .... No insult to Mr Hain intended. He spoke to him on Satruday and explained his decision. Mr Hain was 'remarkably' not disappointed and understood that this isn't a commentary on the working relationship of the past few years. 'It really isn't about that'.

It's just that Rhodri Morgan belives Harreit Harman would provide the best fit or best blend with Gordon Brown. She's the foil the party needs.

Wait for it .... yes, a metaphor at last.

This is about the need for a scrum half and an outside half that can work well together and Brown/Harman are the half-backs the party needs.

Harts and minds

Betsan Powys | 23:37 UK time, Thursday, 7 June 2007


So the new Health Minister has broken her duck and given a television interview.

And how.

Labour's Edwina Hart says she wouldn't mind having Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones in the cabinet. After all Adam Price MP had already said he wouldn't mind a coalition with Labour, though it's easy to imagine Plaid's tactical guru was just hoping to tease a blunt refusal out of them. Be careful what you wish for.

Ieuan Wyn Jones, for now, says nothing. But when there's talk of extending this term by a week or two, you get the distinct feeling this ain't over.

I spent the day at the Welsh Local Government Association annual conference at Swansea's Liberty Stadium where rainbow jokes were a big hit.

Best one? It came from leader, Councillor Derek Vaughan who claimed the WLGA had considered challenging the new cabinet to a game of football but they could only come up with 7 players ... so he thought of inviting the rainbow coalition instead. But they all wanted to play on the right wing.

Are they a happy bunch? No. They welcomed the new Minister, Andrew Davies and his Deputy, Leighton Andrews warmly enough. They 'could' both do a good job, I was told more than once but what's the point of engaging with them now about issues like affordable housing when you might have to go through the whole thing with "some other bugger" in a few weeks' time?

Perhaps they could but they can't get on and govern with that sword of Damacles hanging over their every decision. And there are big decisions to be made.

I gather that official invitations to dinners and conferences two and three months away are on hold. 'Leave it a few weeks just in case' is the latest advice to anyone who asks. And again, said people who are there to deliver, there are big decisions to be made.

One decision I took, as the day's Chair, was to get my defence in first. On the list of speakers was Chris Freegard, Chair of SOLACE. That bit was ok. It was the next bit that made me swallow a bit harder. He is the Returning Officer for Newport. To those who read my blog on election night you may remember that when Chris let rip with his extraordinary attempt to read out the results in Welsh, I let rip too.

Fortunately for me he is a man with a sense of humour, who's got used to calls of 'Good Moaning' when he walks into the office.

About Betsan Powys

Betsan Powys | 15:02 UK time, Thursday, 7 June 2007


I've finally migrated!

It's been a long time coming but then come on guys, it's taken us rather a long time to get over the election in Wales. And the result of the result on May 3rd, if you ask me or anyone else who calls by the Senedd these days, is still not in the bag for Rhodri Morgan and his gang.

A good time to be political editor then and that's what I've been since autumn 2006.

Before that I spent four years in London as a reporter for Panorama, working on everything from stories about child abuse to dodgy chicken. Why did I head for home? Because one day it hit me that my 2 year old daughter didn't know the Welsh word for squirrel and at that moment, standing in Battersea Park, it really, really mattered. I knew it was time to make a move.

I started my career with the BBC in London as a news trainee and realised that this was it for me while watching live reports of the Berlin Wall coming down. A year later I was sent to the Cardiff newsroom to sink or swim. As long as I did it in both Welsh and English for radio and television, they didn't really mind which.

In 1992 I spent election night in Scotland where the SNP promised an interview with Alex Salmond – “the First Prime Minister of Scotland”. He did turn up – but the job he’d hoped for didn’t ...

And on the night of the yes to devolution vote I was working with Radio Five presenter Eddie Mair. At the count we were given a desk in a quiet, unglamorous corner. Fortunately the fax machine was there too, the one that spat out the crucial, tide-turning result from Carmarthen. Scoop.

I started blogging for the BBC during the 2007 election campaign. You can read the archives of that blog by clicking here.

And by the way, just in case you were wondering, it's wiwer.

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