Saturday, April 14, 2007

When is a political strategy a lie

Good article by Martin Shipton in today's Western Mail commenting on Labour's Assembly election strategy. As always, Martin gets to the heart of what is happening. Rhodri Morgan's party is not telling the voters of Wales the truth about how Wales might be governed after May 3rd.

All of us fighting this election hope to win 31 seats, so that we can form a government. All of us also know that the opinion polls are saying that none of us is going to succeed. So we all know that some form of coalition is likely to be formed. The whole purpose of Labour's campaign is to tell voters that the only 'real' choice is between Labour or a 'Tory' led coalition. This is not true.

For many months (years even), I have been advocating consideration of a non-Labour coalition - which would inevitably involve the Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems - a concept which I accept is verging on the incredible (even if Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams did a deal in N. Ireland last month). My own view is that such an arrangement could only work if the leader of the largest party becomes First Minister. But Plaid's leadership has made it absolutely clear that they would not serve in a Tory-led coalition. Now, I find this disappointing, childish and rather amateurish - but it does show up Labour as trying to mislead the voters.

This of course is a matter for Plaid. But its stance could prove very expensive for the Party. It could lead to Plaid becoming an irrelevance in Welsh politics. If Labour and the Lib Dems do form a coalition after May 3rd (and they have both been reported to be preparing for it) and the Welsh Conservatives become the Official Opposition (which I believe is highly likely) - what then for Plaid. With a Welsh Conservative Party, committed to greater political autonomy in Wales and a growing commitment to promoting Welsh cultural distinctiveness - Plaid will be totally 'stuffed'. Labour's election campaign may be fundamentally dishonest but Plaid are playing games with its very existence as a mainstream political party in Wales.

7 comments:

Sanddef said...

Hats off to Nick Bourne

Sanddef said...

PS I would support any coalition that gets rid of Labour, no matter who the First Minister is.

Glyn Davies AM said...

All very encouraging. I hope to meet Aran Jones sometime over the next few weeks to discuss some detail.

Penddu said...

The problem with Plaid is that it is actually two parties, purusing two differenbt electorates.

There is the right of centre 'traditional' party, based in Gwynedd, and appealing primarily to Welsh speakers, and primarily competing with the Conservatives.

And there is the left of centre 'radical' party, based in the Valleys and appealing to English spekers, and primarily competing with Labour.

Policies which appeal to one group will alienate the other.

Gwynedd Plaid could support a Tory First Minister, but it would destroy Valleys Plaid.

I personally belive that Plaid will never make a major breakthrough unless it splits in two, with the two 'halfs' being able to grow in different directions.

Dylan Jones-Evans said...

I was asked to be a guest on hacio - the youth programme recently, and one of the key issues discussed was affordable housing for young people.

Similarly, I was in Betws y Coed canvassing yesterday when this subject came up - clearly no young person can afford even a small two up two down in the village and, as a result, there are major social and economic problems brewing.

And the same is true across the whole of Wales, even in areas such as Monmouth which can hardly be described as welsh speaking heartlands.

With young people moving out, local schools are dying, post offices closing and pubs shutting their doors. The very essence of rural life is being eroded before our very eyes.

It seems to me that planning seems to be the key issue here. Local needs should be considered in any plan for the development of housing, especially within rural Wales.

One of the panellists on Hacio was a young mother from a farming family who couldn't get get planning permission to build a home even though it was their land and it was for local use.

One option rather than having large housing developments of around 100 homes approved, as many councils will do under pressure from developers, local authorities should look to release parcels of land within rural villages for sale to young families who can then self-build, either individually or through working with local housing organisations.

Remember - when we talk about affordable housing, it is no longer an issue of social housing as many people on the average wage in wales are struggling to buy a home.

Certainly, it is good that all parties are looking at this issue. However, Plaid Cymru's promise of £5000 towards a deposit will be virtually useless as the average house price in Wales of £157k only has to go up by 3.2% annually and that is wiped out - for the record, house prices in Wales last year went up by 8.2% (and by 13.1% in Conwy).

Given that the average full time salary in Wales is around £24k/annum (and far less in rural Wales), then a single person would require a deposit of around £30k even for a small terraced house.

A couple on the average wage in Wales would need a similar amount to buy a family sized home - and that is assuming prices do not increase!

We need a clear strategy on affordable housing that includes a serious hard look at planning, even within our national parks.

Whether the next Assembly has the appetite to do this is another matter.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame Plaid have ruled out joining a tory-led coalition, but there's still hope for a Plaid-led coalition between the two. I still think Plaid will come 2nd so this could still happen.

That woule be the perfect result for me since I support parts of what both parties are saying.

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