Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader, Kirsty Williams, is sometimes criticised for her willingness to tell it like it is, though more often by journalists than the wider public who rather like this quality in their politicians.
On Tuesday in the Assembly though, she drew praise from an unexpected quarter as the First Minister contrasted Kirsty’s independence of mind with the approach so far taken by the Leader of the Conservative Group in the Assembly .
“The Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats has her own mind”, said Carwyn Jones during an exchange in First Minister’s questions,
“she often stands up and criticises those at Westminster.”
Perhaps Labour have realised that portraying Kirsty as in any one’s pocket is never likely to ring true or has the budget cosying up started already?
But there may be something we can read in this.
Labour with 30 seats do not have an overhaul majority and whilst with 30 out of the 60 seats it can probably win most of the votes it needs as the chances of the 15 Consevatives ,10 Plaid and 5 LibDems voting together just to defeat the Assembly government is unlikely and it would still mean that the Llywydd (Presiding Officer) Labours Rosemarry Butler of her Deputy Conservative David Melding for the casting vote and it would be an extraordinarily measure and breaking of convention for them not to vote with the government of the day if there is a tied vote..
However Labour, whilst probably being able to defend a byelection can not afford to have any member reducing their ranks a long term illness or suspension. and and they probably will need to at least form a understanding with another party sooner or later even if it did not mean a full blown coalition.
They may have not done this already because their former partner Plaid Cymru have still to appoint a new leader and they may well be waiting to see what the attitude of the winner of that contest will be,
Or they could already (as ir seems to be suggested by Subordinate Centre) be playing footsie in the Senedd with La Pasionaria and the Liberal Democrats .
For the LibDems the chance of getting into coalition in Wales after a disastrous Welsh Election ( which fortunately for them received little press coverage because of Plaids poor showing.) has a number of attractions
- It would raise La Pasionaria profile and I admit she an excellent performer in the chamber but it has the danger of her in particular loosing her position as a well briefed opposition spokesmen and she would find it harder to defend government polices than attack them.
- I imagine that most Welsh Libdems are worried about the toxic affect that they are facing from being in coalition with the Tories in Westminster. With elections for Welsh councils next May threatening a massive cull of LibDem councilors in Wales .The chance of being in a government that offers an alternative to a Tory led government could be alluring.Though it may have little effect as how the public in Wales perceive them.
- They could portray themselves a s the driving force of a Government, that so far has made only lukewarm proposals in Welsh Legislation. Though this will probably last for no more than a year.and Labour would then seen to be the playmakers. As happened in the previous Lab-LibDem , Lab-Plaid coalitions.
- Since it is no longer the official opposition in the Assembly, they could portray Plaid as a Party in decline and of no influence in the Senedd .Though if Plaid get their leadership choice right they might be facing a invigorated party.
For Labour who clearly have no plans for any major legislation they could probably wait. But it does seem that La Pasionaria has been making overtures to them (and it hasn't been one way traffic). We might just se 2013 start with her receiving a plum ministerial job