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Sounding out

Betsan Powys | 12:07 UK time, Tuesday, 11 May 2010

"Oh, the voice of sanity in an insane world!" one prominent Lib Dem commentator shouted into her mobile phone as she hurried from one broadcasting pod to the next broadcasting gazebo.

"Hello Single Transferrable Pundit" said one STP to another. There are any number of them around Westminster and any number of us who want to talk to them.

Over in another corner, down the line from Bangor, Elfyn Llwyd performs the most rapid "reverse ferret" ever seen on BBC 2.

Plaid Cymru want to scrap Trident, said the interviewer. Would you be prepared to give ground on that in order to strike some sort of Labour-led deal?

"NO!" said Mr Llwyd. That's it then, we thought. Bye bye the need of a phone call to Plaid Cymru. "NO! ... but ... we're not to going to dictate the defence policy of the UK government are we, let's be realistic".

Neil Kinnock was listening and happy to spell out the only real deal that would ever be on offer to the smaller parties.

"There cannot and will not be any specific special deals" he said and the nationalist parties know it. The only real deal on offer is halving the debt over the next few years and not immediately as the Tories would. That's the best that can be offered.

In Cardiff, away from the 'insanity' Carwyn Jones was spelling things out pretty clearly too. He is not willing his own party out of power ... of course .... however a Lab-Lib coalition with smaller parties supporting it would be "possible but very difficult." The lesson learned in Wales, says the First Minister, is that parties have to be tied in to strong agreements. "Understandings and informal agreements don't work".

So Mr Clegg: stability lies one way says the First Minister and it didn't sound as though he was at all confident that meant the Labour way.

And what's that I can hear in the distance? Could it be the sound of quiet anticipation - in strategic terms at least - within the One Wales government of a Tory-Liberal pact at Westminster and what that would do for their prospects in May 2011?


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