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Friday, May 18, 2007

Working with the Tories

For those of you who are keen to stick hostile comments on this blog about the Welsh Liberal Democrats getting into bed with the Tories, it might be worth reflecting on some even stranger alliances.

In Stockton-on-Tees Labour and the Tories have gone into coalition after the Council went No Overall Control at the election, with Tory leader Ken Lupton taking over from long serving Labour leader Bob Gibson. The Liberal Democrats and local independent groupings covering Thornaby and Ingleby Barwick will form the opposition after refusing to serve in a rainbow coalition.

In Derby Labour and the Conservatives are to continue their agreement to manage the city council. A fortnight after the local elections, in which the Conservatives gained a seat to take them to 14, while Labour remained with 24 seats, the leaders of both parties have said they will continue their agreement. It means the Conservatives will support the Labour group in exchange for three seats on the cabinet - in the same way they have done for the past 12 months.

We should not forget Swansea either, where Labour and the Tories are working together in opposition and supported each others nominations to key Council posts only this week. Politics does throw up some strange bedfellows. The main consideration however, has to be the interests of the electorate and the benefits that any coalition can deliver for them.

Hat Tip: Labour Watch
Are you suggesting that the National Assembly for Wales is equivalent to a County Council Peter?
Peter, I may be feeling a bit sore because I assured an elector during the campaign that I couldn't see any coalition government including the Tories, but I can't see what more we can get out of them than we were being offered by Labour.

One answer is, I suppose, that Welsh Conservatives are following the lead given by David Cameron, as satirised by Rory Bremner: "What are our policies? What policies do you want us to have?" However, I believe that unionist and Thatcherite instincts still run deep and fissures will appear.

- Frank Little
Obviously nobody is interested in posting a remark, hostile or otherwise. So I will spare your blushes.

Stockton-on-Tees or Derby are not under discussion. We're talking about control of the Welsh Assembly, i.e health, education and much more besides in the whole of Wales.

It is up to you to defend your decision (if that is what it transpires to be) to work with other parties in the Assembly on the basis of whether it's right for the people of Wales. Simply pointing elsewhere is no justification.
Here is another for you: Dundee where the SNP, the largest party on the council, has been put into opposition by a Labour - Lib Dem - Tory alliance.
I am not trying to make comparisons, just pointing out that all sorts of parties work together in the best interests of the electorate and that under various PR systems that trend will continue.

Normal Mouth such remarks have been posted under other entries. I remain of the view that the Welsh Liberal Democrats should not go into coalition at this time and voted accordingly. Naturally I will accept the will of the majority but there are two more votes before this becomes a decision and so I am still able to argue my case.
Many comparisons exist, and recently we have seen what has happened in Northern Ireland. Working for the good of the people you represent will make strange bed fellows, but if it promises benefits to the people of Wales, why not? Labour have had chances, now lets follow the rainbow. If it doesn' work, we try again.
We can't just rule coalition out completely, Peter. As a party that believes in fair representation we also have to accept the concept of coalition - but not at any price.

There is much similarity between the Plaid and Welsh Lib Dem Policy Platforms, so agreement should not be too difficult there. The Tories would be the difficult nut to crack in a 'triple crown' arrangement.

I'd be a little uncomfortable with the prospect of a Nationalist First Minister in Wales. That said, we will have to see if any potential deal is worth the discomfort.

I'll reserve judgement until I see what is on the table, but I still think that our policy platform is so anodyne that the only substantial item that I'd be prepared to take the gamble for would be PR for local government. And it would be one hell of a gamble.
But that is the whole point just because we believe in PR it does not mean that we have to be always the party that goes into coaliton. It is permitted to stand back and let others do the running. For me, if this package does not have PR for Local Government in it in time for 2011 then it will not be worth supporting. Even then it will not be the right thing to do for the Welsh Lib Dems.
What about Lempik Opik missing the meeting for the Lib Dems last night to go and humiliate himself on Have I Got News For You, surely the future of Wales is more important, then Opik's own ego and wallet?
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