Welsh politics is in hyper-flux.
The suggestion from a reputable sane group of Plaid matrons is that Labour and Plaid should merge. First a friendly understanding, then a binding coalition, then jumping into bed together leading to blissful consummation. Has the earth wobbled on its axis? Plaid MP and ex Peter Hain researcher Adam Price MP has similar musings.
So much sweetness and light is intoxicating. Where is the rivalry, hatred and bitchiness that’s endemic to Welsh politics? Well it’s still about. A squeak of petulant rage from north Wales compared ‘Nationalists’ to 'Nazis.' Difficult to imagine Elfyn Llwyd going in for mass slaughter. There are also mutterings that Plaid is ‘too right’ and, of course ‘too left’. Ex AM Ron Davies says that Labour has conned Plaid. Some Labour MPs say Plaid has conned Labour. Neil Kinnock erupted in the Welsh Labour group.
There was a time when Labour represented almost all Wales. All the coastal constituencies from Merioneth, Lleyn, Anglesey, Conwy, Denbigh were held by Welsh speaking Labour MPs. Betty Williams and Albert Owen are the survivors now in Westminster but the Assembly has few Labour AMs from prodominatly Weslh speaking areas. If Plaid did not exist, Labour would still represent North Wales which continues its loyalty to radical anti-Tory traditions.
Although greatly exaggerated, there is some truth in the jibe that the Assembly is run by Glamorgan. A Labour-Plaid coalition could fairly claim to represent all parts of Wales and speak for 54% of the population that voted for the two parties.
The political divide is still Left and Right. Tribalists from Labour and Plaid should lick their wounds and see how little divides the two parties. A grown-up working coalition could give Wales strong stable Government and reforms that all progressive radicals want.
I believe good sense will prevail when Labour takes its decision on Friday. We must trust the AMs and Rhodri.
A splendid new book by Mike Parker, named Neighbours from Hell chronicles England's relations with Wales. Mike Parker is a proud Englishman and lists centuries of insults, injustices and indignities hurled at Wales and Welsh institutions by our neighbour.
His English view of the value of the Welsh Assembly puts many MPs to shame:
"Something very important is happening in the Welsh Assembly. Welsh issues are getting seriously examined in a Welsh context, a new civic society is being nurtured and a whole political and social infrastructure created across the nation. Those, including many Labour MPs, who crave the demise of the Assembly want to turn their backs on that and tie us firmly in with Westminster as our sole source of government, somewhere that has never really understood or empathised with Wales."
For the first time for centuries Wales has its own government in a beautiful building standing on our own soil. This was the hopeless dream of generations of our ancestors -not the crachach but Y Werin - the ordinary folk who toiled in the pits and the quarries. The Assembly is the achievement of our generation. Let’s strengthen it and ensure that our grandchildren will be grateful for our vision.
Fresh Start- late
Lest we forget , the coalition crisis is entirely the fault of one man. He was urged to go by Welsh Labour MPs so that the Browne Bounce could give Labour an overall majority in the Senedd. This is not being wise after the event. That what Welsh Labour said last June. Last September I seen him this ( hitherto unpublished) cri-de-coeur;
Of course the present row is damaging the Labour Party. It's futile to apportion blame on the two main factions and the intertwined layers of ambition and resentment that create these divisions. But there are no innocents or heroes on either side. As neither a Blairite nor a Brownite, I am certain that the only solution is for you to relinquish office very soon. To delay until next May would be grossly unfair to the Party in Wales and Scotland. Welsh MPs made this clear when we met you
The change must come as quickly as possible for another reason. We need a fully independent foreign policy to challenge an increasingly bellicose Bush who is spoiling for war against Iran/Syria. British soldiers continue to lose their lives because we joined the war in Iraq and the mission impossible in the Helmand Province, which could develop into a British Vietnam. Our failure to support the rest of world (except the USA) in calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Lebanon was abject folly. We share some of the blame of the terrible consequences.
You have been tough on terrorism but not on the causes of terrorism. On the 23rd of March 2003, I wrote to you: “Our involvement in Bush's war will increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks. Attacking a Muslim state without achieving a fair settlement of the Palestine-Israeli situation is an affront to Muslims from our local mosques to the far-flung corners of the world. The great lesson from Northern Ireland is that the best way to defeat terrorism is to win over the hearts and minds of terrorists, their supporters and their potential supporters. Pre-emptive attack of the kind we have on Iraq will only deepen the sense of grievance among Muslims that the Western/Christian/Jewish world is out to oppress them. This will provide a propaganda victory to Osama Bin Laden and can only increase his support and the likelihood of more acts of terrorism.”
Leaders of Muslim organisations were castigated for pointing out the obvious fact, that Britain's failure to be even -handed on conflicts has again inflamed Muslim opinion. Of course, Britain is not responsible for the original atrocities by Al Qaida - but we are responsible for increasing and deepening the sense of grievance that spawns terrorism and acts of martyrdom.
We need a fresh start.