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Betsan Powys | 12:37 UK time, Friday, 7 May 2010

Meet two men who just might have some serious bargaining power between them. Might.

The leader of the SNP Alex Salmond, is out there putting it characteristically bluntly:

"I am accepting the offer of the Prime Minister on behalf of the SNP and Plaid Cymru ... to have the civil service back up to have discussions to see what the possibilities are in terms of defending the interests of Scotland and Wales in this parliamentary situation."

"Fate seems to have dealt us a mighty hand" says Mr Salmond, but went on to make it crystal clear - he is ruling out any sort of deal with the Conservatives. A senior SNP source made equally clear that it's on the grounds the Tories had been "comprehensively rejected" by the Scottish electorate.

The other, leader of Plaid Cymru Ieuan Wyn Jones, puts it characteristically less bluntly:

"What we have made clear is that we are prepared to talk in order to secure a good deal for the people of Wales. We want to make sure we have a fair funding formula, that the vulnerable are protected, that our economy comes out of recession, and I think those are the kind of discussions we need to have in order to ensure that the people of Wales have something that they can look forward to".

What do Plaid make of the blunt language coming from the SNP camp?

A senior source says makes this of it: "Discussions need to take place, both internally and between parties. Plaid will not be providing a running commentary on this".

However, Mr Jones was offered the opportunity to rule out any sort of deal with the Conservatives earlier this morning, and he publicly, and pointedly failed to take it.

Asked about the apparent discrepancy between Mr Jones refusing to rule out talking to, or indeed doing a deal with, any other party, and Alex Salmond's rejection of any sort of deal with the Conservatives, the Plaid source said a coalition with the Tories had always been ruled out from the very beginning - but would not confirm or deny anything about the party's position regarding a deal with the Tories on a vote by vote basis.

Possible early cracks in the so-called Celtic Block emerging? One thing we can be pretty sure about: the phone has been ringing.

But whether talks about talks turn into talks at all, let alone talks about anything concrete, we really don't know.


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