Friday, 29 August 2008

Feuds and frustrations

The sort of thing which leads to some of my biggest frustrations as Chair of Plaid Cymru is when some members take it upon themselves to start feeding unwelcome stories to the media, and hiding behind such descriptions as 'a senior strategist' or 'senior sources'. I usually have a pretty good idea who the miscreants are (what on earth makes them think that I don't know who they are?), but a combination of denial and lack of proof inevitably leads to frustration.

There was, therefore, an unavoidable element of schadenfreude when I read this week's reports about what 'senior Labour sources' are saying about that party's leadership contest. I don't know who briefed the Western Mail, but based on my own experience I'd lay odds that a number of people in the Labour Party know exactly who has been speaking out of turn, even if they, too, are unable to prove it, or take any action.

(As an aside, in their position, I'd be angry enough at the deliberate public rubbishing of the abilities of their elected AMs, but I'd be absolutely furious over what looks like an attempt, through the media, to put pressure on a seriously-ill member to resign and make way for someone else. Not the most caring way of behaving.)

Looking in from the outside it's interesting that some 'senior members' have such a low opinion of their own AMs, and it means that the leadership contest may end up being more damaging to Labour than it really needed to be. As a politician from an opposing party, that's not something that I would generally be likely to be complaining too loudly about.

It left me wondering, though, whether Labour MPs - and it really does look to me as though the most likely source for much of what was said was an MP rather than an AM - understand that this contest isn't just an internal Labour Party feud. It is also a contest to select the next First Minister of Wales – and the First Minister of a coalition government at that. It's not for me to tell Labour who to choose (although I have my own preference, of course!) or how to conduct themselves. But I inevitably have a degree of concern that their internal feuding might damage the 'One Wales' project.

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