Accepting one party rule in Wales

Gareth Hughes argues that those urging a coalition with Labour are failing in their democratic duty as an opposition

So party stalwart and former Plaid MP and AM for Ceredigion Cynog Dafis wants Plaid to forget about independence and concentrate on trying to be nice to Labour. Presumably so that Labour relents and allows Plaid Cymru back into government. In a Radio interview Mr Dafis said his party should do a deal with Labour and agree a way forward for the Welsh NHS.

Mr Dafis seems to be singing from the same hymn sheet as Dafydd Elis-Thomas. Both want a governmental role for their party rather than a constant oppositional role. What both are saying is: don’t bother trying to hold the Welsh government to account, don’t co-operate with the other opposition parties. Put simply, just cosy up to Labour.

Such a strategy must be music to the ears of Carwyn Jones and Labour. If Plaid Cymru was to adopt such a policy, Labour would be given a free hand in the governance of Wales. Doubtless some in Plaid Cymru might agree with Lord Elis-Thomas that there was no evidence that a no confidence vote was warranted on the Health Minister last week. Maybe, however, on this occasion the party got it wrong.

But surely there will be occasions when the government will need to be held to account by the opposition parties. And yes even a vote of no-confidence will be warranted. But a party whose main strategy is getting into bed with the government rules out any constructive role of opposition.

The nub of it is that with such an approach Plaid Cymru is accepting Labour hegemony. It is accepting one-party rule in Wales. And is not inclined to challenge Labour’s dominance. Such a policy is inherently anti-democratic. It it is exactly the approach that was taken in the old Soviet Bloc where other parties were allowed to exist, but in name only. There was, of course, a condition for their existence. They always had to vote with the comrades in the Communist party.

Forget the realignment of Welsh politics. One party rule forever.

Is there room in the Welsh political scene for a party that adopts this attitude? Is there room for a party that kicks its reason for existence into the very long grass  and turns its back on independence? Is there room for a party that believes its only role in life is to prop up Labour?

“Vote for us and we’ll help Labour.” That doesn’t do it for me as a winning formula to gather votes on election day. Why vote for the monkey when the organ grinder is on the ballot paper?

Gareth Hughes is a political commentator who blogs here

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