Y Barcud Oren #6

Are you sitting comfortably (having recovered of course from the power of Kirsty’s performance in Harrogate)? Then let’s begin by opening our books to the odds of the One Wales Government lasting the month…

The Civil War Of Unit Three Plus One

To begin at the beginning, back in October an independent review recommended abolishing the grant that Welsh students studying in Wales receive to negate their top-up fees, in favour of more means-tested help. A month later, Education Minister Jane Hutt endorsed that review’s findings. Which was all well and good, except that Plaid stood on an anti-fees platform in 2007. Then again, the One Wales Agreement wasn’t exactly clear on the matter, guaranteeing the existing fee position only until 2009/10 and talking about “maintaining the current level of resource”.

The opposition on the Plaid benches quickly appeared from the usual suspects; The Next Leader Of Plaid Cymru™ for the parliamentary party, the Secretary General of the People’s Democratic Republic Of Treherbert for the assembly group, and John Dixon (Winner, Academy Award For Most Abysmal Performance By An Assembly Candidate 2007) for the grassroots. (Oh, yes, and Bethan Jenkins probably said something about it, but frankly, who cares?)

Matters came to a head at last month’s Plaid National Council meeting, where a motion from Plaid’s ministerial team to review their stance on fees was firmly rejected. The response from the ministerial team was simple; we cannot deliver this. Elin Jones then added further fuel to the fire, claiming that not only would her ministerial colleagues back the change, but the majority of the assembly group would too. Not that that would be a stupefyingly moronic thing for the AM for Aberystwyth University and the University of Wales, Lampeter to say, of course…

Having been spurned by Ieuan Wyn’s desire for continued vehicular buttock comfort, the rebels unleashed their fury. Leanne and the other one took a aggressive, principled stand and agreed… to… abstain… Adam Price, meanwhile, got inventive, threatening a judicial review of the minister’s decision. The press speculation swirled along throughout last week, aided and abetted by some grenade throwing courtesy of Peter Hain.

And then, just when you thought things couldn’t get any more surreal, Ieuan Wyn forced a vote of Plaid’s National Executive which backed his line of allowing fees to be introduced in practice while opposing them in principle. If you’re feeling like you’ve stumbled on an episode of “Da, Weinidog” you’re not alone

Ain’t Too Proud To Beg

Still, having managed to piss off both halves of their core vote (the nationalists and the communists), Plaid headed for safer ground, launching walescan.com, the website that’s supposed to inspire the “independence generation” to rise up with idealistic fervour and lead the nation (as if the lack of Facebook was what was stopping them before…)

But before they break out the “Ie Gallen Ni” T-shirts, Plaid might like to compare their Monday morning press release with their Thursday afternoon one. For the week before walescan appeared, the Assembly had debated the Welsh Assembly Government’s actions to lead Wales out of the recession; while I enjoyed Peter Black’s mental picture of Rhodri Morgan parting the Bristol Channel, I was amazed that in the “metaphors involving leaders standing next to large bodies of water” stakes he didn’t opt for a certain King of Denmark.

And lo, on the Thursday, the Leader of Plaid Cymru (and not the Deputy First Minister and Minister for Economy and Transport, obviously…) launched a discussion paper detailing Plaid’s plans to boldly… go cap in hand to Westminster for £3bn. So, independence, then…

* Gareth Aubrey is a councillor in Cardiff and blogs at Long Despairing Young Something.

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