Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Not really a minority government

Wales is not Scotland, and it’s always a mistake to assume that what applies to one can easily be applied to the other.  But it’s also a mistake to assume that what applies to one can never be applied to the other.
For the last four years, Scotland has had a minority administration.  Certainly, that has meant that Alex Salmond’s government has been constrained at times, and that he has had to cut deals from time to time.  But it worked; the sky didn’t fall in, and a crafty and cunning operator used the situation to his, and his party’s, great advantage.
I haven’t understood the recent speculation that Labour in Wales would have to form a coalition because 50% of the seats isn’t enough to govern, and I’m not in the least surprised that Labour have decided to try it.  They’ll have to learn to accept some constraints on what they do – they cannot expect automatic support – and to cut an occasional deal.  I don’t think Carwyn Jones will find that much of a problem.
There’s another angle as well.  The idea that he would have difficulty getting his programme through is based on the mathematical presupposition that all the opposition parties would work together consistently in order to defeat him.  I don’t see it. 
Labour fought – and won – an election on the basis of opposition to the Tory-Lib Dem coalition in London, and did so using the (less than entirely honest) claim that a vote for Plaid was a vote for a Tory-led administration.  Surely, the last thing that Plaid AMs would do now is to enable Labour to confirm that message by taking a blindly oppositionist stance to the government, and working over-closely with the Tories and Lib Dems? 
I never understood why, from the start of One Wales, there was such a stress on the government always voting down opposition motions, even if they said what one of the coalition partners had said during the previous election.  Such an outright binary position wasn’t necessary then; in the new circumstances, it’s not only unnecessary, it would be completely counter-productive. 
I suspect that Labour will have an easier ride than some are suggesting; for a while at least.

7 comments:

Bored Already said...

Whether Labour will have an easy ride for lots of reasons.

They wont don anything to rock the boat or upset their supporters and vested interests.

A majority of AM's in all parties in the Senedd are left of centre and can be relied to pass the new legislation without proper scrutiny.

And what's left of the Welsh media are supportive of the main agenda if not the party in charge and wont challenge WAG to hard.

Boncath said...

John
Come the man come the time could be the phrase that applies to Scotland.

Here in Wales have things really changed that much.

Plaid should use this election experience just as you say to regroup and define the greater goal
This is a great opportunity for Plaid but the Party must reconnect with its grass roots

Bi-Coalition politics tell us that the junior partner bears the brunt of problems but does not reap the rewards of success

Ymlaen Forward into opposition

Dave Edwards said...

Unfortunately, Boncath, Plaid seems to have nowhere to go forward to. As the political map shows all too well, Plaid has never been able to move out of its language based heartland and whilst the language is a positive advantage here it is a barrier elsewhere. As long as it conducts most of its business in a language they don't understand they cannot engage in its debates or policy decision making and so Plaid is seen as a club they not comfortable joining.The other Plaid strength of a self governing (independent?)Wales, which was appealing to a much wider group of people who find the inbuilt Tory majority in the UK parliamentary system anathema, is no longer on the agenda after the March referendum and so the question remains - where now for Plaid?

alanindyfed said...

Plaid needs to appeal to Tory and Liberal voters (and maybe a few Labour voters) by continuing to put the people of Wales first (whatever their origin or ethnicity). It has worked for Alex Salmond in Scotland.
The case to be made is that Wales would be better off outside the British union than within it. The social benefits are clear but the case for economic benefit needs to be clearly explained.

Anonymous said...

Dave Edwards: "As long as it conducts most of its business in a language they don't understand they cannot engage in its debates or policy decision making and so Plaid is seen as a club they not comfortable joining."

eh? How the hell does Lindsey Whittle, Jocelyn Davies, Leanne Wood etc get by then?

Get a life.

eclecs said...

Dafydd El left the cat out of the bag,when he let fly that the Assembly would be run by an unofficial alliance of the three left of centre parties. After all the Referendum was to bring law making to Wales not to wreck it. Plaid Cymru also have in some ways strengthened their ability to scrutinise with three ex MPs and four ex-ministers. Wither Plaid in five years time, who knows ?

John Dixon said...

eclecs,

"the three left of centre parties"

I suppose that depends on where one defines the 'centre' to be, and what 'left' then means...