Make me a (much better) offer
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:
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.