Over the recent week or two there's a feeling that the Assembly is getting periously close to the farce that was the seating arrangement debate. We have had a recent flood of opposittion motions criticising the London Government over all kind of things.
The Lib Dem and Tory tactics are clear, propose these motions and watch with glee as Plaid vote against them even though they really support them. The latest edition of this cat and mouse game had the bizzare situation of both Labour and Plaid AM's agreeing with the motion, voting against it, then privately criticising London anyway, telling them that voting against the motion hurt badly.
Each and every party in this mess needs to look at themselves a bit closer, none more so than Plaid.
There's no doubt that for the Tories and Libs they can make a lot of political point scoring from this tactic. Whenever a Plaid AM or Plaid candidate mentions one of these subjects in the future, the opposition can point out that Plaid voted against them. On the other hand by using Assembly time (and, more importantly, the rare commodity of Assembly publicity) for petty point scoring they are hurting the whole Devolution project. Welsh people want to see the Assembly DOING things, not arguying back and forth on whether they should criticise London or not. Whether these motions were passed or rejected does not make one tiny difference to the life of any Welshman (apart from the AM's themselves of course).
Then there's Labour. What on earth are they doing refusing to criticise London, then privately doing so anyway? Clearly this is an indication that, to the Welsh Labour in the Assembly, protecting the party in London is more important than being honest about what they, and Welsh voters, actually think. Devolution was supposed to bring in a whole new style of government. By refusing to criticse London even when they disagree with them Labour AM's are making the Assembly Government look like the little kid of the London Government, not allowed to do or say anything to hurt the masters over the border. Labour AM's should look at to who they owe the greater duty, the people of Wales or the British Labour Party.
Finally we come to Plaid. Now, with all the other parties I've managed to explain why they are doing what they are, and why I think they are wrong. With Plaid I can't even do the first part. What possible logic is there in Plaid voting against these motions? Is it some misplaced loyalty to Labour? Plaid members voted for the One-Wales Government. That government was based on a very specific document which stated:
"Matters reserved to the UK Parliament, other than those mentioned in this Programme, are outside the scope of this Agreement."
In other words, there is no duty on Plaid AM's to blindly follow Labour on these issues. So why are they doing it? Voting for these motions would do no damage to the One Wales Government, only to the London government and the Labour party (and that would be very minimal damage in all honesty).
Yes, being in Government carries responsibility and is a steep learning curve. But by voting against motions which they actually agree on, Plaid are doing themselves, the Assembly and the One-Wales Government serious damage.
Let's hope that the Lib Dems and Tories will grow up very soon, that Labour will realise very soon it is supposed to represent the people of Wales and that Plaid realise even sooner that they have merely joined Labour in Government, not merged parties.
These people are supposed to be acting for OUR benefit, not their own.