Page last updated at 06:13 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 07:13 UK

Power and Plaid, one year later

Betsan Powys
By Betsan Powys
BBC Wales political editor

Rhodri Morgan and Ieuan Wyn Jones
Shake on it: Rhodri Morgan and Ieuan Wyn Jones sealed the deal

In the week marking the first anniversary of the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition in the Welsh Assembly Government, we look at how it has affected the various parties. Here, we examine Plaid's response and on subsequent days, Labour and the opposition.

On 6 July, 2007, Labour party members said yes to a coalition at a special conference in Cardiff - a clear yes, but undoubtedly an if-we-really-have-to kind of yes.

The day after, Plaid members flocked to Pontrhydfendigaid to shout yes from the rooftops.

On the gate of the conference hall, party officers quickly removed a home-made placard, condemning Plaid for keeping Labour in government - the party they'd based their whole campaign on pledging to kick into touch.

The 95% plus who said yes to the deal before heading for home would hardly have noticed and twelve months later Plaid seem to be openly voicing plans to kick Labour into touch at the next election, thanks to the ballot boxes and this time, leading a government.

What would those ordinary Plaid members have wanted out of the deal?

A chance at being in government for the first time ever and a stable one at that? Yes, of course.

Wish list

A referendum on or before 2011? Undoubtedly.

An updated Welsh language act? Yes and a Welsh language daily newspaper as promised in the deal with Labour along with the establishment of a properly funded, properly managed federal college.

Today the Plaid leadership sends them its message: you may not be able to put a tick next to anything on that wish list yet - in fact you can put a cross next to the idea of a daily newspaper - but in government Plaid has "created a new Welsh agenda", one that's put Plaid Cymru's aspirations "at the forefront of the political agenda".

In other words, we may not have delivered on that wish list but stick with us.

Most of their supporters have and will.

With government - thanks to Labour, though you'd be had pressed to know that if you read Plaid's assessment of this first year - comes credibility and all in all Plaid's year has been a pretty good one.


Ministers have hit the mark mostly - even if Culture Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas missed it spectacularly last week when he somewhat inexplicably named the wrong winner of the Wales Book of the Year.

The local election results were much better than last time round. But some are worried that Plaid is forgetting its grassroots.

You only need to look at the kicking Plaid took in Gwynedd on 1 May and the lack of support locally for its parliamentary candidate in Ceredigion to know that.

Their concerns? That Plaid is enjoying being in government but forgetting who put them there, treading too lightly on the path towards delivering the constitutional reform that would have compelled most supporters to vote yes twelve months ago.

They may look forward to the imminent election of party president as an opportunity to air their views.

What next? Walking the tightrope that lets Plaid work with Labour in Torfaen and a couple of other councils, work with the Conservatives in anyone-but-Labour coalitions in rather more county halls and claim credit for policies pursued in Cardiff Bay that keep the grassroots happy.


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