Sunday, 8 July 2007

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Light at the end of the tunnel

After yesterday's vote perhaps its time to see who the winners and the losers are.

The big winners clearly are Labour - they have clung on to power when all looked lost and political exile was their only realistic option. Expect now more talk from its leadership of how it will now implement all of its manifesto and how Plaid are the junior partners.

The other big winners were the Tories, finally they get the coveted position of the official opposition, with all the airtime and perks that come with that post. Devolution has given the springboard to present themselves anew to the Welsh Public as a revitalised and distinctive Welsh party. Much of the credit for this has to go to Nick Bourne - who has some very unreconstructed Tory chairs of constituency to deal with. His succession to the leadership after Rod Richards has been the great unsung success of the last Assembly. The new Red/Green coalition has given him the platform he needs to take the Tories into second place and finally overtake Plaid at the next Assembly election.

Plaid are also winners, though possibly not as big winners as the previous two parties. Government, and the experience of government will grow the party's credibility. Coalition with Labour will blunt those venomous attacks on the party for being racist from certain Labour hacks - it renders that line of attack as laughable - for who would believe that Labour would ally with a racist party? The implementation of Plaid policy by the new coalition will also lay the charge of "sci-fi" economics from all three of the other parties. In short it will slay some old lies about the party and lend the party considerable credibility.

Overwhelmingly the major loser in this process have been the Liberal Democrats - who now look split and totally marginalised. Back as second opposition party behind a reinvigorated Tory party they face a difficult time. Just what do they represent, and what can they offer? A leadership election and probable bad local government elections next year will further diminish their credibility as a leading party.

Again to a lesser extent Trish Law is a loser, for a brief time she held the balance of power, that is gone - not that I think she relished that position. But life is difficult for independents, I wonder to what extent she will now be drawn into the orbit of the Liberal Democrats? There was some sign that she was getting tacit support from them in the last assembly, will this continue?

We also see a clear split between the Westminster parties and the Welsh Parties for Labour and the Tories... both Westminster Parties are far more devolution septic than their counterparts in the assembly - and both parties Westminster parties will have some opportunity to make mischief.... Legislative Competence orders and Assembly Measures will both be laid before a Welsh Committee of MPs before they get to be approved/declined. This gives quite a lot of power to this body to veto and obstruct the National Assembly.

On a closing note, who goes Dafydd El or Rosmary Butler? And who will replace who ever steps down?

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