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Welsh Assembly.

Written By: - Date published: 11:12 am, May 12th, 2016 - 20 comments
Categories: elections, electoral systems, International, journalism, Media, MMP, Parliament, political parties, social democracy, uk politics - Tags: , , , , ,

The Welsh Assembly is deadlocked. Labour have 29 seats while Plaid Cymru, the Tories, UKIP and the Lib Dems have 31 seats between them. As reported by the Guardian, two people stood for the position of First Minister – Plaid Cymru’s Leeane Wood and Labour’s Carwyn Jones. That’s the first piece of poor reporting.

More accurate reporting would have centred on the fact that Labour were unable to gain a parliamentary vote of confidence in order to lead the Assembly.

Wales operates under the auspices of a fixed term parliaments act. That means that Labour failing to gain a vote of confidence is no problem. Unfortunately, the Liberal Democrat’s Kirsty Williams is locked in an old school and irrelevant view of how the Assembly works. She’s quoted in the Guardian piece as saying “I was not re-elected to support a “a ragtag coalition made up of Ukip assembly members who at the moment can’t even agree with each other,”.

Here’s the problem with her reasoning. There is no coalition. The need for coalitions belongs to a governing environment that no longer exists in Wales.

Plaid Cymru understand this. A spokesperson for the party has said “On 5 May, Wales chose not to elect one single party to govern Wales with a majority. As is the convention, the biggest party were given an opportunity to reach an agreement on forming a government which could lead Wales with the support of the majority of members in the national assembly. They took the decision not to pursue that option and were not prepared to give the process of negotiation any further time.”

So what comes next?

Well, under a fixed term parliaments act, if the largest party can’t get a majority of members to give it a vote of confidence, then the next largest party tries to secure a majority and importantly there is no need for coalitions or confidence and supply arrangements; the government is a minority government that reaches out to any or all parties to pass whatever legislation it brings to the house.

Someone needs to have a wee word in Kirsty William’s ‘shell like’ and get her up with the state of play.

And while they’re at it, maybe they could have a wee chat with UK Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn and drag him into the political reality of the 21st Century. he needs to drop his apparent insistence that one world under Labour is the only possible world for a Labour Party. He really ought to be reaching out to the more progressive political parties across the UK (the Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru) and working with them positively and constructively instead of carrying on with his delusions that one fine day he will be ‘ruling the roost’ from on high…it isn’t going to happen.

In terms of NZ, our parliamentarians need to stop playing silly buggers; trying to shove the round peg of mmp into the square hole of fpp is an exercise of frustrating stupidity that’s delivering something far less democratic than NZ deserves.

20 comments on “Welsh Assembly. ”

  1. Pasupial 1


    Always appreciate your insight into the British process (the Guardian often assumes that its readers are already familiar with the basics, and I can’t be bothered researching for myself about something so distant). However, unless I’m missing something, your conclusion seems exactly opposite to what you meant to say (wouldn’t mmp be hole rather than the peg in this metaphor?):

    trying to shove the round peg of mmp into the square hole of fpp is an exercise of frustrating stupidity

    • Bill 1.1

      Erm. The process is mmp (the peg?) the framework it’s being applied to is the same one as existed under fpp (hole?).

      The Guardian (along with the rest of the media and most of the ppoliticians in the UK) are still way down that hole of fpp understandings and analyses btw. Look back at any of their reporting around the UK General Election and all that shite they helped peddle around fears of an SNP/Labour coalition.

      • Hanswurst 1.1.1

        Erm. The process is mmp (the peg?) the framework it’s being applied to is the same one as existed under fpp (hole?).

        I would have thought that the framework is the MMP system that apportions the seats, and the peg is the parties’ strategies to campaign and form a government within that. No matter how hard I think about it, I still come up with Pasupial’s interpretation. I’m not asking to be pedantic, but because want to get my head around it, and I’m not sure whether you don’t mean something entirely different that I’m not seeing.

        • Bill

          Ah. I see. I was thinking of the mmp system and the way parliament is organised – all the budget as vote of confidence, majority through coalition deals etc.

          • Hanswurst

            Ah. So what you’re saying is that, although we have in MMP a voting system that theoretically delivers a parliament as an ideal forum for creating policy and laws via debate and a robust competition of principles and ideologies, it is subject to a system of forming the executive branch of government that favours fa government/opposition duality, whereby if the former isn’t bigger, a new election has to be called. Therefore, it’s de facto a two-horse race in most respects. Yeah, thinking about it, that’s probably the principal reason why minor parties’ policies tend to get subsumed by those of the major parties, and why it would be all to easy for the major parties to blame minor parties if a hung parliament were delivered and new elections called.

            Actually, a combination of MMP and fixed-term parliaments could be the single best way of helping a more truly left policy mix get a look in, so long as the electorate and representatives could get their collective heads around it. Good point.

  2. dukeofurl 2

    There seems to be an important point not being made. The previous system allows an early election to be called soley on the prerogative on the Prime Minister ( or First Minister)

    The fixed term spoken about here is not an absolute, ie new elections can be called if there is 2/3 of MPs voting in support.

    In addition a new election is called if a First Minister isnt elected within 28 days of election, which will apply in this situation. So you are incorrect to say that a minority government will ‘continue’- whatever that means.
    Since you cant appoint a FM without a majority, that means a coalition MUST be formed, rag tag or otherwise.
    A bit presumptuous to tell an elected MP she doesnt know the procedure.

    If a new parliament is elected during the term it only runs to the original date of the fixed term one.

    “Welsh Labour’s Alun Davies said: “Plaid Cymru have just fought an election campaign spending eight weeks saying they’d never do a deal with Ukip or the Tories. They referred to Ukip as the ‘far right’. And yet today we’ve seen them stitching up a deal to try and form a government. “

    • Bill 2.1

      Back around here are you?

      Okay. I didn’t mention that the prime or First minister loses the prerogative to call the timing of an election in a fixed term parliament because…erm, it’s a fixed term.

      The 2/3rds in the UK case voting on a discrete and concisely worded motion can then lead to a vote of no confidence. True. And not mentioned because it’s entirely irrelevant to the post.

      The 28 days is in the article I linked to.

      “So you are incorrect to say that a minority government will ‘continue’..” I’ve scanned through the post and can’t see anywhere that I said that. So sorry. I can’t help you decipher something I didn’t write.

      A minority government under a fixed term act does not need to form a coalition and does not need to put confidence and supply arrangements in place. The reason why that is is back to the 2/3rds majority voting in favour of a specific motion mentioned just above….three paragraphs back.

      In the unlikely event of a government being replaced, the replacement only runs through to the end of the fixed term. Well I never!

      Regardless of what Labour are saying (and they’re kind of wont to spout shit on this) there is and has been no coalition. The simple fact is that, aside from numb-skull Williams, no-one outside of Labour wants Labour to form the government.

      • dukeofurl 2.1.1

        No one outside labour wants them to continue- of course as they are the present government. Trouble is 12 seats for PC isnt really enough to be an alternative in an assembly of 60.

        Ill repeat what the story says, and you didnt mention, that the FM needs a majority, or a new election.

        You asked ” what comes next”. The answer isnt nothing, as there must be a rag tag coalition to elect a FM or a new election.

        This is also required in Scotland, as you would well know, the SNP lost its majority. So they too wont be running a minority government without the support of another party.

        Its interesting that Ireland was also in the predicament of no clear result of their election. But as they have the two main parties of a centre- right type, you could be thinking they would form a coalition for a majority.
        The trouble with that is that would make Sinn Fein, which was the 3rd largest party, the official opposition ( and in the year of the 1916 centenary !!)
        So the result is an minority government to keep SF away.

        • Colonial Viper

          This is also required in Scotland, as you would well know, the SNP lost its majority. So they too wont be running a minority government without the support of another party.

          And such support only needs to be lent on an issue by issue basis.

          No coalition agreement is necessary; no confidence and supply agreement is necessary.

          It is a very flexible and democratic system.

          • dukeofurl

            It repeat again for those who missed it, A FM can only form a government after a MAJORITY vote in parliament.

            If that vote doesnt occur up to the 28 day period then a new election is held. The vote is essential, a minority government doesnt just start up of its own accord.

            PC with 12 seats out of 60 has no way of getting a majority vote unless supported by labour or the woman liberal democrat + all the other parties.

            Simple political reality will say minor parties will negotiate some benefits for them to supply the votes for the FM to form a government

            • Colonial Viper

              dude, you’ve gone and conflated the need for a supportive parliamentary vote within 28 days with the existence of what you call a “rag tag coalition” to make the vote.

              No coalition agreement is needed. No confidence and supply agreement.

              • dukeofurl

                if you dont survive the initial ( and only) confidence vote, you dont have a government.
                The only way to get a majority for PC ‘on this vote’ is a rag tag coalition of PC , Conservatives, UKIP and Lib dems. Doesnt that look a rag tag one to you.
                IN reality the only government that makes sense, is some sort of agreement with Labour and PC. Labour for reasons that arent clear are ruling that out.

                It doesnt make sense either for us to be mansplaining for the very experienced woman who is the only LibDem MP, on what is or isnt the procedure or process. Comments that she doesnt know her business are the textbook example of the term.

                Im not hung up on how other countries parties form their governments, whether they have coalitions, or confidence and supply or just support partners. Just because it isnt called coaltion doesnt mean there isnt formal arragements.

                Wales and other UK devolved parliaments have only one confidence vote, on the first day of the sitting of a new parliament. But a confidence vote it is and any party leader hoping to be FM would be stupid not to have the numbers all tied up in advance.

                In Scotland the SNP, having lost its majority, is going quickly to a minority government as its still far away the largest party, but it would interesting who provides the numbers to get past its first day confidence vote. Im betting its only with the greens, but we shall see how that turns out and what they want in return.

        • Bill

          Christ, i was kind of hopeful that you were back sans the vexatious bullshit.

          Repeating. Because they are working under a fixed term act, there is absolutely no need for coalitions or confidence and supply arrangements. Now, you can blow hot air about that fact all you want, but it won’t alter the fact.

          And there is no coalition in Scotland. None. Not even one being considered. The SNP will run a minority government (assuming an initial vote of confidence) and get support for its individual policies from whatever of the other parties on a case by case basis.

          Applying that reality to Wales, means that Plaid Cymru can form the government and the only thing stopping them is the idiot from the Lib Dems who doesn’t understand the environment that they got elected into.

          • DoublePlusGood

            What is the explanation for why Labour don’t simply pick one of the other parties to get the few support seats they need for a majority? That would seem to be easier to achieve than trying to get some weird minority government attempting to find shared policies between as diverse a group of parties as Plaid Cymru, UKIP and the Lib Dems.

            • Colonial Viper

              I’m sure Labour could if they could get any of the other parties to agree to a coalition agreement with them.

              • DoublePlusGood

                Did they do a “Run around screaming and yelling about how shit all your potential coalition partners are”-style campaign?

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Thanks for putting up this very important post, Bill.

    Worth remembering that the things we like about Corbyn i.e. he embodies many of the values of old Labour, are also going to be the things we don’t like about Corbyn i.e. he embodies many of the values of old Labour.

    You have discussed the self governing Kurdish enclaves in Syria before. I read a piece which said that “communalism” was the model of governance that they chose. Is this your understanding?

    • Bill 3.1

      It’s been too long since I read anything about what is going on there. I know they took Murray Bookchin’s ideas and are attempting to apply them. I don’t know much that may be getting skewed because of stresses associated with war and sanctions.

      • adam 3.1.1

        Well war on two fronts, not only the far right nut bars from Turkey, but the even more far right nut bars ISIS.

        It is kinda working – from what I’ve read, but it is also falling apart. Lack of Food, ammunition and the pressures of the USA back Kurds, and their form of far right nut bar. Saw a piece by Zaher Baher who writes over at licom, and it was a little depressing.

  4. dukeofurl 4

    The main issue for me sems to be an agreement/understnding/coalition with Labour and PC is out of the question because

    “A week ago people in Blaenau Gwent were voting in this election. They had been told categorically by Plaid Cymru that if they voted for Plaid there would be no circumstances in which Plaid would work with,come to arrangement with, understandings with either the Conservatives or Ukip. It had taken less than a week for them to break that.” Alun Davies


    Good tactics, bad strategy’ Political experts react to the unprecedented impasse caused by Plaid derailing Carwyn Jones’ return as First Minister
    “An extraordinary tied vote in the Senedd – on what was expected to be the formality of re-appointing Carwyn Jones as First Minister – has sent shockwaves through Welsh politics.
    Plaid’s counter-nomination of their leader Leanne Wood, supported by the 18 votes of the Conservatives and Ukip, led to an unprecedented political impasse .”

    In reality the situation mirrors Scotland,where the SNP had a reduced number of seats and lost its absolute majority, but still was largest party. Wales had labour with one less seat and no majority.
    But instead of Scotland where the largest party was expected to continue, a much smaller party in Wales tried to takes the reins of power. In Scotland it would like the Torys wanted to take power after they improved their position in the election.
    It would be laughable in Edinburgh and its laughable in Cardiff

    Previously when SNP was in a minority government in Scotland they too relied on the Torys, so maybe starnger things can happen in Wales – but not while the sole Lib Dem woman MP stands in the way

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