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    04 July, 2007

    Assembly Diary

    Adapted from my Rhondda Leader column:

    The Assembly election result in May left Labour without an overall majority. Over the last eight weeks, attempts have been made to put together some form of coalition government in Cardiff Bay.

    I would myself obviously have preferred a majority Labour government – or failing that, for Labour to govern as a minority, winning support from the other parties issue by issue.

    Unfortunately, those options are not available. We don’t have a majority, and if we try and go it alone, we will be voted down by the other parties.

    We therefore have to agree a programme in co-operation with another party. My preference would have been for Labour to form an alliance with the Liberal Democrats. However, the Liberals placed themselves in such an impossible negotiating position that that option does not exist.

    The only choice facing Labour therefore is to agree a joint programme with Plaid Cymru, or go into Opposition and see Wales run by a coalition of Plaid Cymru, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

    I believe such a coalition would be a disaster for the Rhondda and a disaster for Wales. It would mean the Valleys losing out. In recent years we have seen major investments in the Rhondda from the Assembly, like the new hospital currently being built in Llwynypia and the Porth Rhondda Fach Relief Road.

    I believe that the people of Wales expect Labour, as the largest party, to lead the government in the Assembly. I do not believe that they want us to go into opposition and see Tory ministers running public services in Wales.

    Reluctantly, therefore, I think the only option before us at the present time is a coalition in the Assembly with Plaid Cymru.

    I am not a nationalist and I am opposed to nationalism and to the idea of ‘independence’ for Wales. We will have no truck with independence in the coalition government.

    The agreement which will go to Labour’s conference on Friday means that the new government will implement Labour’s commitments to reduce hospital waiting times and invest in affordable housing and childcare.

    As the Labour candidate who won the Rhondda Assembly seat back from Plaid Cymru in 2003, I can promise the people of the Rhondda that Labour will focus on the issues that matter.

    2 comments:

    Patriot said...

    You have made the right decision which is in the best interests of the people of Wales and has risen above the mindless tribalism which I personally find utterly frustrating as a Welsh Labour member.

    As for nationalism/unionism, this is a sterile debate. All EU countries now distribute sovreignty over a number of levels. The trick is finding the right balance. We haven't found this yet in Wales, more devolution is needed and will come through the One Wales Agreement. It does no more than activate a process already in statute under a Labour Government. Plaid is not asking for anymore than is already on the statute book and there is no reason to come into conflict with them on this issue in the new coalition.

    We are both really devolutionist parties with a difference of emphasis. Lets see how the relationship matures over the coming years.

    Leighton Andrews said...

    Well thanks for your general comment, but we are a unionist party, they are a nationalist party. Devolutionists are de facto unionists.

    If you want more on this, you will find I have written extensively on unionism, devolution and Europe in the context of media policy - see

    http://mcs.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/28/2/191

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

    Author's editorial policy: This blog does not publish anonymous comments, unless they are really witty and I like them. If you have something to say, then have the courage of your convictions and use your name or an identifiable alias. Even then I reserve the right not to publish comments that are malicious, defamatory, stupid, pointlessly cynical or boring. Any of the statements or comments made above should be regarded as personal and not necessarily those of the National Assembly for Wales, any constituent part or connected body.