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Necessity v convenience

Betsan Powys | 11:23 UK time, Monday, 9 May 2011

If you were still up for Llanelli ... Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire ... Cardiff North ... Central and Aberconwy, then I hope you had some sleep.

Some pretty bleary-eyed new members on the block have been arriving in the Senedd this morning, trundling suitcases, smiling for ID photos and realising they don't have the parking spaces they thought they'd have.

This afternoon both the Conservative and Plaid Cymru groups will be meeting in Ty Hywel to focus on the task ahead.

Ieuan Wyn Jones might have noticed that there are, quite literally, storm clouds gathering over the Bay this afternoon. For what it's worth he looks pretty unhappy. He knows the group meeting will be a tough one, though I'd surprised if there hadn't been many voices quietly persuading him to stay as leader while the party undertakes a root and branch review - not just of the campaign - but of its future direction and organisation.

The first public set piece will be on Wednesday when we're expecting to see the election of a Presiding Officer and Deputy PO and when, of course, Carwyn Jones will be elected First Minister.

The rumour mill is busy with regard to the first posts. The names of Labour's Rosemary Butler, the former DPO and the Conservative William Graham are being mentioned by some as a possible team. That's not going down too well though with some in the Labour group. One or two within the Labour group, though, are suggesting they'd be less than keen on that and would rather Dafydd Elis-Thomas was asked to carry on for another term (despite the fact that the PO's job, as Leighton Andrews put it this morning, is "not a hereditary position." Ouch.)

Another intriguing suggestion puts Lord Elis-Thomas as PO and another opposition politician as his deputy. Why intriguing? Because it gives Labour their majority, a majority of two and that's a deal more comfortable than one; a great deal more comfortable than none.

Then again, what about the Conservative Angela Burns as PO? With David Melding having ruled himself out, her name is coming through loud and clear this afternoon.

Would the opposition parties agree to giving Labur that majority? Let's see.

In the meantime, there are more and more Labour voices talking about an obligation to go it alone, to form a government and to avoid "the trouble with coalition" as Pontypridd's new AM, Mick Antoniw put it, which is to make things "too cosy" and militates against proper scrutiny. "It has to be a necessity to stable government and not a convenience" he said in one answer, while in the next warned that the Lib Dems are "seen as toxic" and that Labour wouldn't be forgiven for striking a deal with them now.

In other words it looks increasingly likely that Labour will go it alone, avoid formal pacts and strike deals if and when they're needed to get specific bits of legislation or business through.

If you were listening to the phone-in on Radio Wales this lunchtime, you'll know that there'll be plenty in the party - and beyond - who'll be saying good on them.

I had started on a blog entry listing five reasons for and against a deal between Labour and Plaid, five reasons for and against a deal between Labour and the Liberal Democrats and five reasons for and against Labour going it alone. When it's done, I'll post it .. and wonder whether anything beyond the last paragraph will be of any interest whatsoever to readers of this blog amongst the Labour group.


Labour have just issued a statement:

"The people of Wales have made it very clear that they want a Labour-led Government and they want Carwyn Jones to be the next First Minister. This is accepted by the other political parties in the Assembly.

"Informal discussions have been taking place today and over the weekend both inside Welsh Labour and with the other political parties. The new Labour Group will meet tomorrow to discuss options and agree the right way forward for Wales. Following that meeting, Carwyn Jones will make a statement to ensure Wales has a stable Government in place as soon as possible."


Ieuan Wyn Jones on leaving the group meeting:

"What we need to do is take our time. None of us profit from taking instant decisions. What we have got to do is reflect well on it and to really understand in the fullness of time what went wrong and what went right ... the party does need time to reflect not just on its positioning and message but on its strategy".


A statement from the Lib Dems:

"Labour have failed to win the overall majority many expected, or the 'comfortable majority' that Carwyn Jones talked about at the beginning of the campaign. However, they are the largest party and with half the seats in the Assembly, Carwyn Jones can form an administration and we expect him to do so.

"The priority of the Welsh Liberal Democrats now will be to work to implement the policies that we have fought this election on - creating jobs and boosting our economy, more money for schools, cutting waiting times by cutting waste and better politics that puts local people in charge. Those will be our priorities in this Assembly and Kirsty Williams and the new team will use every opportunity to promote that agenda, whatever the circumstances.

"The Welsh Liberal Democrats have taken no part in any discussions with the Labour Party since the election or over the weekend, informal or otherwise."


  • Comment number 1.

    Labour going it alone? I argued for this before any of the results were in, beliving that the polls were correct. And so they should, the arguments are still valid, mainly as you pointed out, there will be more scrutiny. Things will have to be tackled on an issue by issue basis, without any backroom deals. Five years this time, get it right or we'll know which creek we'll be up, the malodorous one.

  • Comment number 2.

    For what it's worth, I think Labour would be better-off going it alone. Let the party stand or fall on its own merits, rather than having to deal with "the trouble with coalition", as mentioned above. I also like the possibility of "proper scrutiny" that this provides.

  • Comment number 3.

    If you can think of 5 good reasons for having "one Wales 2" I'll eat my hat!

    Oh and I appreciate there is a big story relating to just how bad Plaid did in the election and just how much their narrow divisive brand of nationalism has been rejected by the Welsh electorate..... however, once that story has been covered do you think the media will remember that they are now the 3rd party in of Wales and provide coverage as such. They are an irrelevance!

  • Comment number 4.

    These are difficult times wherever you live in the UK, or Britain or Wales, or Scotland or NI - or whatever we call where we live these days?

    Most people just want a job, close by, on a living wage to get off benefits? Is that too much to ask all over the UK/Britain? What's stopping that happening? Politicians!

  • Comment number 5.

    I am a little confused about the PO / DPO issue. Though the PO is excluded from voting on any occasion I thought it was the case that the DPO retained voting rights at times when they weren't in the Chair which would make things more comfortable for labour without making it seem that that they were trying to 'buy' a working majority by taking both PO and DPO from the other Parties.

  • Comment number 6.

    Welsh Labour needs to "come of age" and stop pussy footing around. With Plaid Cymru and the LibDems both seen as losers, now is the time to stand up and show some fight.

    If the losers in the Welsh Assembly Election are willing to vote with the Tory Party to stop socialist policies then let them.
    Oblivion awaits them.

  • Comment number 7.


    "If you can think of 5 good reasons for having "one Wales 2" I'll eat my hat!"

    I know of 1 good reason not to have "One Wales 2"

    No behind closed door deals between Siadwell & Penfold.

  • Comment number 8.

    #7 Who do Siadwell and Penfold relate to Rhondda, I'm intrigued?? (I always thought Nick Bourne made a good yoda myself...)

  • Comment number 9.

    6. Not socialist.. Not really.. Not at all.

    If you've just woken up here's an update: the unions are broken(ish), someone invented the Internet, there's a thing called New Labour which is into heady substances like PFI... And the state owns very little indeed. However if you're offering me a share of your allotment, you're on.

  • Comment number 10.

    #8 Just my little joke, Siadwell the John Sparks characher reminds me of I.W.Jones and Penfold the side kick of Danger Mouse reminds me of our own (Rhondda) L.Andrews but maybe just my sick mind lol.

    #9 I've been awake for some time and getting tired, tired of the NEW Labour handle, tired of the Old Labour handle, we are just Labour. Tired of nationalist prougander and sick & tired of the I'm allright jack Tory philosophy.

  • Comment number 11.

    propaganda, propaganda, propaganda.

    I did say I was getting tired, yawn.

  • Comment number 12.

    The sensible choice would be an alliance with the Welsh Lib dems. The policies of the parties converge on many things.
    Carwyn should really think that it would be better to be working alongside kirsty and Peter Black than against them.

  • Comment number 13.

    12. At 21:25pm 9th May 2011, Rhetoric wrote:
    The sensible choice would be an alliance with the Welsh Lib dems. The policies of the parties converge on many things.
    Carwyn should really think that it would be better to be working alongside kirsty and Peter Black than against them.

    Why on earth should Labour deal with these also-rans and let them claim credit for the positives and deny responsibility for the negatives in the same way PC did? If Lib Dems want to align themselves with Tories in Wales as well as in Parliament just to vote down Labour policies, they will once again pay the price.

  • Comment number 14.


    I don't agree and don't paint the Welsh Lib dems with the same brush you paint Plaid.

    The Lib Dems have shown in London that they are able to maintain a stable government as they set out to do.
    Just after the success in Primary law making powers the last thing the Welsh Assembly needs is an unstable goverment and that's what the WLD's will provide. A stable coalition.

  • Comment number 15.

    #10 Luvs it - Leighton Andrews can't be anything other than Penfold from now on :D.

  • Comment number 16.

    #14 We will have to agree to disagree. I believe Labour should go it alone and do what they believe is best for Wales. It may mean a few defeats along the way but I honestly do not believe that Plaid, Lib Dems and Conservatives will vote everything down whether regardless of it's merits just to defeat Labour. I believe that all polititians in the assembly will put the nations interest first.
    Along the way there will have to be concessions and goodwill from all sides but surely our elected representatives are mature enough not to vote things down purely for the sake of party politics.

  • Comment number 17.


    Actually I will agree to not always disagree with you here. Party politics really does get in the way of things. Public opinion by way of consultations and acting on the evidence compiled from these consultations should be the norm.
    Party politics will always be at work . Some are like Robots in the Senedd!

  • Comment number 18.

    I've not read much of this blog lately, but it seems that the BBC's reporters seem desperate that Labour continue it's coalition with the pliad cymru ! There is no need, the nationalists lost support and have lost their position in "government". Whilst wishing to gloat about nationalist failure in Wales, I must doff my cap, so to speak to the the scotch nationalists, they have enganged the people of Scotland in a way the nats in Wales must only dream of. They have run, we must assume, south of the Berwick some successfull administration in the last four years. In reward for this the poeple have trusted them with their devolved government, even the SNP acknowledge that this vote is not in any way, a vote for independence, but the SNP has and will get on with the job at hand and not whine and whinge about lack of powers etc. Pliad cymru should take note, and this spoken by a clear British Unionist and anti-devolutionist !

  • Comment number 19.

    #12 "The sensible choice would be an alliance with the Welsh Lib dems. The policies of the parties converge on many things.
    Carwyn should really think that it would be better to be working alongside kirsty and Peter Black than against them."

    Kirsty lost over 9% of her vote and the LibDems took 4 out of 20 regional seats with only 8% of the vote to my mind that's not proportional let them sit with their Tory masters.

  • Comment number 20.

    Once again the results show that wales is stuck in a quagmire with no real alternative to the mediocre performance of the last assembly.
    "this time we have 5 more years to sort ourselves out or we will be in real trouble" - dont make me laugh.
    Wales may just be shouting "labour till we die" slightly less louder than before but the reality is every policy, proposal, idea is always prefaced with "if only nasty Westminster would give us more money". This get out of responsibility card will never be placed back in the pack, it is far too reassuring for our 3rd division lords and masters.

  • Comment number 21.

    The second para. of the LibDem statement looks like a pre-justification for a coalition deal. I bet Kirsty is hoping nobody digs out the TV interview she gave (to Max Perkins?) about the rainbow coalition last time around - incredible peaks of dissembling..

    Re #5 - Standing Orders (see the helpful NAW website) deals with these things. They could go for both PO and DPO from opposition parties, but only by setting aside the relevant SO - this requires a two thirds majority (see paras 2.12 and 2.13). PO and DPO may only vote to give a casting vote (as I read it) - see para 2.20.

  • Comment number 22.

    Apologies. The latest version of Standing Orders has the relevant provisions in Section 6 rather then Section 2 - the para. numbers are unchanged.


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