Monday, January 28, 2008

Plaid Conundrum

:: The smacking row and the resignation of Peter Hain reveal a tricky problem for Plaid Cymru and an opportunity for the Liberal Democrats.
There was a time when such a spectacle as the smacking row would have prompted a volcanic frenzy of anger from Plaid. "Look," you can almost hear them say. "Whitehall is bullying the Assembly."
Instead, the story catapulted the Welsh Liberal Democrats into the news as the only opposition party with the necessary pro-devolution credentials to cry foul.
A similar thing happened with the appointment of Paul Murphy to Welsh Secretary. Ieuan Wyn Jones, who once talked of Labour's "devolution dinosaurs", must now bite his ministerial tongue. No such problem for the Lib Dems, who steal an opportunity to speak up for devolution by talking down Mr Murphy.
If One Wales delivers a referendum, then none of this will matter and Plaid will continue to claim it is fueling the engine of devolution. Sometimes, however, that referendum seems like a pretty big if.

:: A Liberal Democrat briefing paper about the party's strategy in the Assembly has dropped into my inbox. Judging by who sent it and the list of other recipients - all Lib Dem staff - I can only assume I was sent it in error. There is usually a juicy scoop involved when a reporter gets to see something he is not meant to see. Luckily for the Lib Dems, the contents of this confidential document are too boring to report.

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