Welsh Assembly: Whatever happened to the Tories being defenders of the Union?

The Conservatives made huge gains in Scotland by claiming steadfast opposition to independence, then voted for a pro-independence candidate for Welsh first minister

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The Welsh Assembly failed to elect a first minister yesterday, as Labour’s Carwyn Jones and Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru tied on 29 votes each. Both UKIP and Conservative AMs voted for Woods in order to block Jones’s reelection.

The recriminations between Labour and Plaid have already begun, with Labour accusing Plaid of ‘betraying voters’ for doing a deal with the right-wing parties.

Plaid maintains that it has not held formal discussions with the Conservatives or UKIP, while chairperson Rhuanedd Richards tweeted that ‘a party with no majority can’t presume to have a right to govern’.

But where are the Tories in all this? Is everyone too busy accusing Plaid of hypocrisy to recognise the massive inconsistency in the Tories’ election campaigns?

Last week, they became the second-largest party in Scotland last week by claiming to be the only party that could be trusted to defend the Union. This week, they have thrown their support behind a pro-Welsh independence party because it offers them a chance to undermine Labour.

Perhaps, as Nick Clegg recently suggested, the Tories’ commitment to the Union is less principled and more political than they claim.

Talks between Labour and Plaid Cymru will continue today. An assembly must be formed by first of June, otherwise another election will be called.

3 Responses to “Welsh Assembly: Whatever happened to the Tories being defenders of the Union?”

  1. Alasdair Macdonald

    The author is believing her/his and the Unionist media’s spin on the Scottish elections. The SNP were just two seats short of an overall majority, under an electoral system designed to avoid parties getting a minority of the vote forming the government, as is the case currently in Westminster and has been the case in almost every Westminster election. The system produced a distribution of seats which is not greatly different from the proportions of votes cast for the five parties in the Parliament. (Incidentally, the same five parties in the previous Parliament of ‘a one-party state.’) Together with the Green Party, pro-independence parties have a majority in the Parliament. The SNP increased its share of the vote compared to the 2011 election, when the system actually resulted in a majority of seats. The SNP achieved the highest vote ever for any political party in Scotland.
    The Tories made so-called huge gains for two reasons: firstly the loss of trust by all sections (left and right) of the population in Labour and by tactical voting by supporters of the three unionist parties voting for the party they thought most likely to withstand the challenge of the SNP. Had Alison Johnstone (whom I greatly admire and for whom I would have voted had I lived in the constituency) not stood for a constituency, then Ruth Davidson would not have been elected as a constituency MSP. Had Tory and Lib Dem supporters in Helensburgh not voted for the Labour candidate Jackie Baillie, she would have lost in West Dunbartonshire. In both cases, the SNP would have won the seat and thereby have gained a majority. Ms Johnstone would have been elected on the list and so, the pro-independence parties would have had 71 seats to 58 for all the unionist parties combined.
    In Wales, the Tories are simply sticking the boot into Labour in their First Minister vote. They are behaving in the cynically nasty way they always behave. It is about power at all costs, for them. They have got a nice wee bonus in that they have played on the paranoia of tribal Labour, who are going to have to make an accommodation with PC on some occasions.

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    Talks between Labour and Plaid Cymru will continue today.

    Given that Labour prefers to deal with the nationists than the other unionist parties, can we condemn it too for hypocracy?

  3. David Lindsay

    I have always worked with Conservatives, and some of them have been so right-wing that I have no doubt that I could work with UKIP members, too. But then, I am not a Marxist, or a Welsh separatist, or a European federalist. Nor have I ever promised not to work with “the Tories” or “the Kippers”, no matter what.

    This is not a one-off on the part of Plaid Cymru. Both at Cardiff Bay and at Westminster, it has form for this kind of thing. Under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour has the chance to reclaim the rural Radicalism and the peace tradition that were allowed to die of sheer neglect in most of England and much of Scotland after the First World War, but which live on in Wales. No one else seems to want them.

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