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Blue, Orange, Green and Yellow

Betsan Powys | 20:08 UK time, Sunday, 9 September 2007

I spent some time last week putting together a short film for my colleagues outside Wales, attempting go fill them in on just what happened here after the May election. Why am I having to tell them at all? Because I think it's fair to say you'd be hard pressed to find more than one man on the Clapham Omnibus who had much of a clue as to what went on here between May 3rd and July 7th and you'd not find that many on the Central Line to White City either who'd be up for one of Vaughan's quizzes on Welsh Politics. There are notable exceptions but you get my drift.

If you weren't in Wales, if you weren't listening to, watching or logging on to BBC and ITV Wales coverage, reading the Western Mail or glued to the blogs, then would you have felt the earth move? No, I don't think so. Yes it dragged on. Yes, it must have seemed pretty impenetrable at times but it caused big changes - the kind people need to know about.

Mind you when I read the latest from Belgium, I feel a glow of satisfaction that we actually have a government at all.
Spare a thought for the Belgians. They voted on June 10th and are still listening to political correspondents talking about 'the crucial 48 hours ahead'. Yves Leterme must have thought he had it in the bag when his Flemish Christian Democrats won most seats but the so-called blue orange coalition with the the Francophone Christian Democrats, the Flemish Liberals and the Francophone Liberals has faltered time and again. Deals have been struck on the future of big issues like nuclear power and privatisation plans. Politicans who never thought they could pull in the same direction are realising they must find common ground. Sound familiar?

And where does it all keep going wrong? Constitutional reform. Ah yes. The Flemings accuse the Francophones of blocking their reform agenda. The Francophones are seeing plots here, there and everywhere. I wonder how familiar that may get to sound in a few months' time? More clues there after the First Minister's first briefing of this Assembly term and the first suggested timetable for a referendum.

And as for Green/Yellow? Plaid Cymru reveal their new Chief Executive tomorrow. The smart money is on Gwenllian Lansdowne - the two-brains, multilingual Cardiff councillor - to succeed Dafydd Trystan.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 10:27 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Dewi wrote:

http://www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?story_id=9767681&fsrc=nwlptwfree

Interesting from the Economist - suggesting Belgium splits.

  • 2.
  • At 10:43 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Jonathan Evans wrote:

I hate to burst your bubble Betsan but I find it hard to believe more than 2/10 people in Wales have a clue what went on in Welsh Politics between January - Sept 2007!

Nothing like cheering me/us all up at the start of a new term Jonathan!

  • 4.
  • At 07:19 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Ant Twerp wrote:

Flemings? Surely Flemish, Ms Powys?

Or are you suggesting that they have a suicidal tendency to run off the cliffs at Ostende?

  • 5.
  • At 09:05 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Dewi wrote:

And I travel on that blasted line every day and have difficulties getting a Western Mail you Jonathan can get lost !!

  • 6.
  • At 07:56 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Daran wrote:

Spot on with Gwenllian Lansdown. She comes with a strong reputation and inherits a party in far better shape than for quite some time - books balancing, place in government, on the electoral "up".

  • 7.
  • At 10:45 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Rhod wrote:

People are always saying that Belgium will split, but it hasn't yet and I'd be surprised if it did now. That's not to say that it shouldn't. It's an artificial country that should never have existed and doesn't make any sense.
What is interesting is to see how a country can get along quite nicely for a prolonged period without a government. No break down of public order or even disruption of services. Nothing noticeable at all in fact. It must be worrying for the politicians though.

  • 8.
  • At 11:46 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Huw Griffiths wrote:

We all know what happened during the early summer in Wales and that was, The Welsh Liberals (those seeking positions of power within the party to the determent of Wales) made the Rainbow deal unworkable by voting against it in a phone box, the enlightened and progresive grass roosts membership forced a re-think however the Liberal AM's at that point had proved unsuitable for a stable Welsh Senedd.

So in the words of our famous Pontypridd sons - 'I know what you did last summer' and Peter that was to let the nation down !

  • 9.
  • At 11:49 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Huw Griffiths wrote:

We all know what happened during the early summer in Wales and that was, The Welsh Liberals (those seeking positions of power within the party to the determent of Wales) made the Rainbow deal unworkable by voting against it in a phone box, the enlightened and progresive grass roosts membership forced a re-think however the Liberal AM's at that point had proved unsuitable for a stable Welsh Senedd.

So in the words of our famous Pontypridd sons - 'I know what you did last summer' and Peter that was to let the nation down !

  • 10.
  • At 02:53 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Jonathan Evans wrote:

Difficulties getting the Western Mail Dewi? let them know there's someone who wants to buy the paper and I imagine they will deliver it by hand to you. So short are they of readers - and that's for good reason too!

  • 11.
  • At 04:59 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Herbert Davies wrote:

You may do better with your London colleagues by sending a few quotes from the 'One Wales' document. They may wake up when they realise that we now have a proper Welsh, proper Socialist Government over the dyke. Why not try for example:

'We firmly reject the privatisation of NHS services or the organisation of such services on market models. We will guarantee public ownership, public funding and public control of this vital public service'

Bit of a contrast with the position in their neck of the woods........

  • 12.
  • At 08:58 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Brychan wrote:

One of the more distinctive characteristics of Welsh politics at the moment and Welsh politicians in particular is that they seem to have their head stuck up their own backsides. Constitutional issues are dominating political discussion and will continue to do so because all the politicians are really concerned about is with which way does the political process need to go forward for their own self satisfaction. In some ways they are probably glad of this because it takes our attention away from the fact that after 3 full assembly terms the institution seems virtually incapable or bringing about significant improvements in either health, education or the economy. How long before we follow the Scottish example which at the moment is looking to prevent the movement on scottish soil of nuclear munitions essential to our defence apparently oblivious to the fact that in an increasingly unstable world undemocratic nation states are assisting the proliferation of nuclear weapons and thereby facilitating thereby the possible use of such material by terrorists. They see all the failings of the British state and none of the advantages. Politicians? Plonkers more like!

"""Spare a thought for the Belgians. They voted on June 10th and are still listening to political correspondents talking about 'the crucial 48 hours ahead'. ... Politicans who never thought they could pull in the same direction are realising they must find common ground. Sound familiar?"""

Sut mae Bethan!

Belgians may not have a government, but Flemings, Walloons, Brussels (and the German-speaking minority) still have their governments.

Still, something is different about the current political haggling. The Flemings are definitely more open to 'separatism' even if it remains only a theoretical option. The French-speakers cry wolf at any mention that Belgium should disappear.

In a way it is like an old couple bickering.

But the difference with Wales is that there are really two different and completely separate media and political systems in Flanders and in French-speaking Brussels/Wallonia. In Wales, as Jonathan Evans (Mr MEP?) points out, readersship of our own media is dismally low.

Dafydd

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