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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.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 09:11 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Huw Dylan Phillips-Griffiths wrote:

I am hearing big doubts that this will get passed by Plaid 7/7/07 Aber, equal doubt it will even get to Aber after the Labour get together.

This has had lots of twists over the last months but it may go Twist and Shout in the following days.

  • 2.
  • At 10:48 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Richard Harris wrote:

Is Wayne David now the new "George - I DO love my mam best of all - Thomas, of Welsh politics?

What a totally depressing (and totally predictable/reactionary) whine from him on Radio Wales this morning re. the Plaid/Lab agreement...10 years of Blair/Brown "thatcher-revisited" and NOT ONE bloody word. Yet, maybe touch ONE aspect of the UK state and "Our Wayne of the Valleys"" is furious. That is, if "Wayne" can ever be convincingly "furious" about ANYTHING.

I've been cynical about the entire "project" (Plaid/Labour) but I do now believe this is a once in lifetime's breakthrough for any residual radicalism left in Wales. And.., I haven't been drinking Adam Price's "Post Gramscist" Torino cooking sherry.

FOR GOD'S SAKE; time to move on from the "Waynes" (and Kinnocks) of this world.

  • 3.
  • At 11:10 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Frankie wrote:

PHEW! Thank goodness for that! I did have my doubts about a rainbow coalition; there are too many differences particularly between Plaid and the Tories. I think there would have been an awful lot of squabbling going on behind the scenes and nothing would have ever got done!

Pity about the Lib Dems though, I think that would have been a better coalition, shame they blew it, now I think more than ever they will be lost in the political wilderness.

  • 4.
  • At 06:22 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Helen wrote:

Agree with Frankie; Italian history [the 'compromesso storico' - historical compromise - of 1973 which encompassed Socialists (Centre Left), Communists (Left of the Socialists) and Christian Democrats (Centre Right)] shows us that such a wide spectrum of views cannot maintain a stable government, as the Italian version didn't last. Hopefully, this coalition of the broad left, with an obvious mandate from the voters at the election, whatever the latest opinion polls say, will last the full course and deliver a radical agenda for such important matters as Education, Health, Transport, Economic Development and Public Services in general.

That Loyal! The Labour Dilemma

The members of the Labour Party in Wales are facing a dilemma, and it concerns loyalty. Should they give their loyalty to Wales or to the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland? If Wales is a nation, which most of us agree is so, is Britain also a nation, or is this a contradiction? Do they give their loyalty and trust to Rhodri Morgan, Chief Minister of the Welsh assembly, or to Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of Great Britain? It must be highly confusing to them. Are they Welsh first and Labourites second - Welsh first and British second? They are certainly not Socialists. New Labour has very little relation to Socialism. These days it has more in common with the Conservative Party. In their efforts to grab the centre ground of politics they have given up their principles, so that it is Plaid which is to the left of Labour. Many Welsh Labour members are in favour of greater devolution for Wales, whereas many of the Welsh Labour M.P.s in Westminster are frantically pulling on the brakes. Rhodri is doing his best to sell a Plaid/Labour coalition to his members, while his colleagues in London are actively campaigning against it, with Neil Kinnock M.E.P. at their head. It is a real dilemma for them. What can they do?

I have a suggestion which I would like to float.

My suggestion is that the Welsh Labour members vote to sever their links with the Labour Party UK and form a Social Democratic Party of Wales. By doing this they will move to the left, and regain the socialist principles that were abandoned by New Labour. They will be free to pursue the progressive policies which the people of Wales are demanding, without the guilt of subscribing to the policies of New Labour. They will adapt the policies of Keir Hardie and Aneurin Bevan to conform to the exigencies of the present age, the 21st Century, and in company with Plaid Cymru, they will present a radical programme of reform to the people of Wales.

  • 6.
  • At 08:49 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Geraint wrote:

There's something kinda satisfying about the thought of a tamping Lord Kinnock of Bedwellty doing his (ginger) nut over all this; schadenfreude-ish, even.

  • 7.
  • At 11:32 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • tybed wrote:

Why do you blog in English and Vaughan blogs in Welsh? Judging from your liking for Welsh poetry and his atrocious spelling, a swap seems to be in order!
(Vaughan - the spelling is forgiven because the blog continues to deliver)

  • 8.
  • At 10:17 AM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Herbert Davies wrote:


One plea over this weekend and the coming week. Can you please ensure interviews with party members are balanced and genuinely reflect the range of opinons across the parties. I am carefully monitoring this and statistically opponents are being interviewed very disproportionately.

Supporters will shortly be proven in the majority, so can we please ensure at least a 50:50 situation before the conferences. The BBC needs to be reporting events and should not allow itself to be perceived as wanting to influence them........

  • 9.
  • At 06:06 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Llewellyn wrote:

Antonio Gramsci would be spinning in his grave if he read Adam Price's crap and abuse of his legacy.

All it shows is that Price probably hasn't actually read or understood Gramsci.

Gramsci was a militant socialist who took part in a wave of factory occupations in Italy, he definitely wouldn't have supported going into an alliance with the Tories

Unhelpful Blogging

Trawling the blogs it is evident that there are a number of bloggers who are making what I consider to be unhelpful remarks regarding the dialectical inclinations of Plaid Cymru members and the way in which the party defines its dialectical position. In my opinion the issue is not whether Plaid is a leftist party or a rightist party, or even whether it is in the centre of the political spectrum. The issue and priority always was and always will be the path to independence. When independence for Wales has been achieved Plaid's role will be over, and this is the time when the party should decide its political complexion, or whether or not it should disband. Any other talk is divisive and does nothing to further the cause of independence. In fact it is unhelpful as it distracts those who associate themselves with 'left' or 'right' wing politics from the main aim and primary function of the party. In my view, these concepts constitute the politics of the past century and a new era of consensus politics is dawning in Wales. Politically speaking, Wales leads the way, and there are many in Westminster who quite obviously hold to the antidiluvian thinking which divides one from the other and perpetuates the political status quo.

  • 11.
  • At 11:54 AM on 30 Jun 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Good to see you've stuck to your guns and the complaints to the higher-ups have been exposed as the humbug they so obviously were..

  • 12.
  • At 05:43 PM on 30 Jun 2007,
  • Clifford wrote:

'Progressive' policies? C'mon. Have you seen "One Wales"? Clearly its authors never paid attention in economics class. Giving first-time buyers housing grants will only increase demand - unless supply increases to match it, prices will increase further as a result. As for free laptops for all schoolchildren, well, this generates a LOT of deadweight - giving freebies to people who could afford and would have bought them anyway. Same goes for free prescriptions and HE tuition grants (which, by the way, benefit the middle class more than the working class, because the latter don't tend to go to uni). By the way, the only reason we can afford all of this is thanks to generous subsidies from England. Leave the union and kiss goodbye to tax-and-spend. D'oh!

Agree with Frankie; Italian history [the 'compromesso storico' - historical compromise - of 1973 which encompassed Socialists (Centre Left), Communists (Left of the Socialists) and Christian Democrats (Centre Right)] shows us that such a wide spectrum of views cannot maintain a stable government, as the Italian version didn't last.

What a load of rubbish! "It didnt work once in Italy so it wouldnt work now". Try to come up with an intelligent argument, please!

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