And Ladies and Gentlemen we have deadlock.

Mat Mathias reflects on ‘the week that was’ in the Assembly.

Deadlock my arse – whatever happened to stalemate? Just because things got exciting the media decided to get all channel 5 and turn it into an afternoon game show. I’m waiting for the Politics Show to call it ‘Thunderdome’ and be done with it.

Two leaders enter; one leader leaves…

I don’t think I have ever witnessed such a period of rumour, counter rumour, misinformation and downright lies.

Although saying that, outside actual elections or when ex Liberal Democrat AM, Mick Bates was told off for being in the debating chamber dressed as Santa, I can’t remember the Assembly being this exciting.

Being a huge politics geek I always feel a little empty in the days that follow an election, especially the Assembly’s ones. It’s all so deflating and beige and while it’s nice to see new faces in the chamber what you’re getting in the front benches is pretty much the same.

Not last week. It went bananas and the sort of bananas the EU would ban for not being straight or bent enough. They say that Welsh Assembly politics is in its infancy. Last week it started behaving like a teenager, pushing the boundaries, finding its voice, questioning, listening to Prodigy, having its ear pierced, drinking bottles of frosty jack’s white cider in a park and getting off with people…well not those last bits.

Every politico and their dog has been telling us that UKIP would have between 5 and 9 seats for the past year, so them getting 7 was very much a ‘meh’ moment. We know it was history but we also knew it was going to happen.

From what we have seen over the past few months if you left a single member of UKIP in a room on their own, after 5 minutes they would not be speaking to themselves and have formed a splinter person.

In a nutshell; the ten foot tall, angular faced Nathan Gill who has no idea how to do a Béchamel sauce for lasagne had bravely led Ukip to said historic 7 seat victory. After that you may have expected him to win the Order of Nigel and be feted across the land. Not so, they gave him about 87 hours and then picked somebody else to run the Assembly group. The audacious new leader, Neil and Christine Hamilton, had decided that he/they were the right person/people to lead the people’s front of UKIP even though the rumour factory was already on full power stating that there was to be a split and the formation of the People’s front of UKIP led by Gill who was good enough to run UKIP Wales but not good enough to run six members of UKIP Wales.

Phew that was exciting – lots of comment, of argument and lots of pictures of Neil and Christine Hamilton in their showbiz years post 1997 but after the splash of colour we returned to the politics of beigeness the next day for the Carwyn Coronation.

Wrong.

I was sitting at home re-reading my ITV Wales 2007 yearbook and sticking my silver Nick Ramsay into my new Panini ‘The Fifth Assembly’ sticker book and all of a sudden a tweet appeared from the smiling political assassin/celebrity chef’s assistant that is Adrian Masters. It went like this…

 ‘I almost don’t believe this as I’m writing it. Some opposition sources are telling me the First Minister nomination might not be clear cut…’

 Had Lynne Neagle been biding her time? Had Dafydd El, having used up every other single opportunity to thwart anything that Leanne and Plaid have ever done, seen his chance? Were Neil and Christine Hamilton already bored with being leader of just a 7 (8 including Christine) person group and wanted to rule all of Wales?

If you can recall a few paragraphs ago I mentioned bananas. That wasn’t bananas.

This was bananas.

There was no Coronation. Carwyn’s name wasn’t the only one on offer. Leanne the Plaid leader put her name forward and as new Presiding Officer, Elin Jones read out the name of every AM in the chamber asking them to state loudly who they wanted to see as the First Minister of Wales you could tell this was high theatre. Especially so when Tory and UKIP AM alike all said the name ‘Leanne Wood’.

Alphabetically Leanne was last so unless she had a crisis of confidence akin to me putting on those stupid ice skates last year it was all going to come down to Kirsty Williams, or as everybody in the media now calls her ‘lone Liberal Democrat, Kirsty Williams’. She went with Carwyn over the ‘ragbag coalition’ and it all went into Deadlock…I mean stalemate.

Everybody had to go off and spin what they thought or what they wanted us to think to anybody that would listen. This was the centre of the rumour, misinformation and lie bubble. What I did get out of this is that I and most people in the twitterverse have no idea what ‘deal’ means. To some, mentioning your intentions to somebody else is a ‘deal’.

These are the truths (inverted).

According to Labour, Plaid had gone back on everything any nationalist had ever said since the formation of Cymru Fydd in the 19th century. They were the pushers, organisers and leaders of a ménage a trois of evil. There was no doubt that this was a deal and most of their supporters on social media took deal to mean coalition. A coalition of Plaid, Ukip, Ukip 2.0, new Ukip and Tory. What a set of duplicitous buggers. A deal is when you talk then? But everybody put a statement out soon after telling all of us that there had been discussions between all parties. So this must mean a grand coalition of everybody.

According to Plaid, they were bursting the bubble of Labour’s arrogance. They hadn’t been in discussions with anybody but they had been into the offices of the other parties and told them their intentions. There had been no talking back and absolutely no touching whatsoever. So completely innocent then?

The Tories and Ukip A, Ukip B and the new galactic Ukip Order just sat back smiled and said that they just wanted to shake up the Senedd. Since then one of the leaders of Ukip north, Ukip east or Ukip west but no intention of living there, have had discussions with Labour. Following the laws of Labour tweeters, this must mean a coalition between their party and Royal Ukip. So, in these discussions, Decepticon Ukip said they wanted to abolish the tolls on the M4 as part of their ‘not deal’ which actually isn’t in Carwyn’s gift as it stays in private ownership until 2018. They may as well have asked him to withdraw Russian troops from eastern Ukraine or bring back Brucey to next year’s Strictly.

I am lost if I am being honest and so were media outlets such as the Huffington Post, who until the last time I checked were telling their readers…sorry consumers that Leanne Wood was the new First Minister. Some bloke from the Guardian saw a picture of Carwyn wiping his eyes with a hanky and wrote more words than this saying that he was crying his eyes out because Labour were in freefall. Good grief! Labour lost one seat and will still form a Government in some form. Also I could say a lot of things about the big man but emotional cry baby is not one of them. I doubt he cried when (spoiler alert) Hazel was shot in Watership down or when Hayley died in Corrie. It was a nanosecond camera shot – the same sort of shot that would have displayed me standing up on the ice skates I mentioned earlier when in fact I didn’t really manage that feat.

All of this happened in just one week after the election. Get the popcorn supplies in; I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Mat Mathias works for the charity sector in Wales.

9 thoughts on “And Ladies and Gentlemen we have deadlock.

  1. UKIP want the M4 tolls abolished because it is going to cost their AMs a fortune coming back into Wales every Monday morning and leaving for England every Friday night.

  2. The most extraordinary thing about the Revolution That Never Was is that most of the ‘commentariat’ are so shocked, even offended, by the very idea that anyone should have the nerve to contest Labour’s claim to run the Assembly.

    After all, Labour just about scraped only a third of the vote in the elections – less in the regional list. Nowhere else but in Wales would anyone assume that gives them an automatic right to rule.

    Yet Labour will win in the end – partly because they are the grand masters of the dark arts of backroom
    politics but mainly because victory goes to the side that wants it more. Labour would shoot their own grannies in the face before letting go of the levers of power. Many of them have no other source of income, or at least comparable income.

    If Plaid were serious about their political objectives, they would make a deal with UKIP and the Conservatives, even at the price of offending that part of their base who have been brought up to believe that ‘Tories’ have horns and cloven hooves. Still the childishness of opposition parties refusing to talk to each other, or being seen to talk to each other, will prevail. Most of the Welsh Left would rather hate others than advance their own agenda.

    Democracy requires more than the forms of voting – even totalitarian states have those. They need to be backed by a civic culture and that does not exist where opposing parties are incapable of dealing with each other like grown ups. Until it is proved that there is a realistic practical possibility of a change of administration, Wales remains a one-party state rather than a fully functioning democracy.

  3. Superb article; if journalism in Wales wasn’t even more endangered than the charity sector I’d suggest you look for a new job.

    Assuming Jeff Baxter is a Plaid supporter, obviously no real Labour supporter would sound that proprietorial or entitled over a particular constituency and its inhabitants

  4. Well done to UKIP for taking votes from the Tories and stopping them holding the balance of power in the Assembly. We may now have the socialism of a Labour / Plaid pact, but better than the devil of Tory (English) nationalism and Wales being reduced for this Assembly to a footnote in Tory politics. At least Labour / Plaid, for all their faults, care about Wales

  5. The most extraordinary about the revolution that never happened is that it was never a revolution in the first place. What was also disappointing was the very poor quality of analysis in our media. At one point, one journalist was suggesting that Carwyn would have to go and Huw Irranca-Davies was poised to take over. The guiding principle seems to have been to wind up the speculation and, in so doing, misled the public.

    Let us assume for one second, that Kirsty Williams had voted for Leanne Wood. Where was the Plaid’s majority going to be in the Assembly following her election. Plaid has made it clear that they will not do deals with the Conservatives and UKIP, and by that I mean real, not imagined, ones. They would not support a programme from an avowedly socialist party. So Plaid’s only option would have been to seek support from Labour. I don’t need to go on; the scenario is too fanciful to waste any more time on.

    It is also the case that Andrew RT Davies has said that everyone knew who was going to vote a day or so before the actual vote, meaning that Plaid knew which way Kirsty was going to vote and there was never any chance of Leanne Wood winning. Clearly this was not the point of the exercise.

    Wnat is also cause for concern is the standard of investigative journalism at work at Cardiff Bay. If Andrew RT Davies is correct, why did none of the political journalists covering the Assembly pick up on this widely-known rumour? Perhaps it’s a case of Assembly journalists relying too heavily on official channels only.

    Plaid seems to have been unhappy at the pace at which Labour was seeking to put its Government plans together and wanted more time to negotiate an agreement of some kind. This has been achieved. What we will have to wait for is the nature of the agreement and whether Plaid has achieved in substance what they have so far achieved in headlines.

  6. Leanne Wood has now firmly established her stature as a leader. She showed real courage in accepting nomination for the Rhondda constituency at a time when that debarred her from a place on the regional list. She then put in the graft to fight a no holds barred campaign and pull off a notable victory. Now she has shown the grit it takes to challenge Labour hegemony.
    It is for the Welsh media to explain why they portrayed the selection of First Minister as an uncontested coronation. The same people who prophesied that then declared themselves profoundly shocked when the vote proved anything but.
    The 2016 Assembly elections showed that Labour’s vote is in decline. Next year’s local elections offer an opportunity for Plaid Cymru to prove that it’s game on.

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