Plaid’s hopes for a hung parliament

A rather odd thing happened the other day.

Adam Price, the most handsome socialist in Wales, suggested at Plaid Cymru’s conference that Brown contact the Welsh nationalists over a possible coalition at Westminster in the event of a hung parliament.

Huh?

No really…

On the last day of Plaid’s conference in Llandudno Adam Price MP delivered a speech outlining its position for the forthcoming general election.

Plaid strategists believe that an increasing polarisation between the Tories and Labour is likely.

They believe this raises the distinct possibility of a hung Parliament following the next general election.

In the closing speech of the conference, Mr Price, Plaid’s director of elections, warned that we could well see the kind of coalition politics that occurred here in Wales following the assembly elections.

If this is the case he wants the Prime Minister Gordon Brown to get in touch to discuss a potential deal which will keep Labour in power.

Mr Price said that despite Mr Brown saying that he wants a government of all talents and open politics he is yet to get in touch with Plaid.

“There have been olive branches strewn across the political spectrum, offers of Cabinet seats to Ming Campbell, Tory grandees leading Government reviews.

“But so far nationalists need not apply. What is he afraid of?

“I’ve got a message for Gordon, pick up the phone.

“If you don’t call us now you’ll have to call us later if you don’t want a Tory government”.

He will also warn the prime minister that he cannot take Wales or Plaid for granted, and that Plaid will not hesitate to talk to other parties if Labour refuses to listen to their key demands.

Plaid is likely to base its Westminster election campaign on key policies similar to the pledges made during the assembly election campaign.

If Plaid comes to an agreement with Gordon Brown, it will expect a number of concessions for Wales.

These will include a cut in corporation tax, £1bn to eradicate child and pensioner poverty and a transfer of justice and policing matters to Wales.

Further key pledges will be for the assembly government to have a lead role on agricultural matters within the Council of Ministers in Europe, a high speed rail link between Wales and Europe and a fair share for Wales of £10bn Olympic investment.

Now, realise that Price’s media strategy is to say outlandish things – how else to get attention? – but this makes a lot of sense from the perspective of getting independence for Wales, as well as the electoral ambitions of Plaid.

Though of course it could backfire if it looks like Plaid is attempting to rescue a floundering New Labour.

I wouldn’t expect Gordon to be getting in contact any time soon, however…

The Welsh Secretary says Labour will still treat Plaid Cymru as “enemies” in forthcoming elections.

Peter Hain was responding to a Plaid Cymru call for Gordon Brown to consider a partnership between the parties in the UK parliament.

Mr Hain said that Plaid had to demonstrate it could govern responsibly in the new coalition at the assembly.

He said Labour still intends to “fight” Plaid in the 2008 local elections and the next general election.

[…]

Mr Hain also said that he does not expect the Welsh assembly to gain full lawmaking powers “for some years to come.”

The Neath MP said Labour had been at the forefront of devolution campaigning but the existing powers had still not been fully explored by the assembly and the time was not right for full powers.

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Spooks scotched nationalists

[Sunday]

And it continues to this day?

Files prove that MI5 spied on SNP
MARC HORNE

THE SNP was spied on by British secret service agents, previously classified Government files seen by Scotland on Sunday have finally proved.

Claims of surveillance of nationalist politicians by intelligence officers have circulated for years, but the new papers provide the first incontrovertible evidence that the state spied on the SNP in the 1950s.

Agents from MI5 and Special Branch infiltrated the party as part of a campaign to undermine support for Scottish independence, the papers show.

The revelations have put First Minister Alex Salmond – who in opposition complained about closed Government files on the SNP – under pressure to close a legal loophole that allows the secret services to intercept the calls of Scottish parliamentarians.

The files, which have been opened and placed in the UK National Archives in Kew, show that throughout the 1950s Special Branch officers posed as nationalist supporters and attended party meetings and rallies.

The dossiers contain first-hand accounts from numerous unnamed agents of party meetings, and also include names of SNP members and sympathisers. They also provided transcripts of speeches and give particular attention to members they believed were on the more radical and militant wing of the party.

The dozens of documents also contain the remarkable claim that Dr Robert McIntyre, the then SNP leader, wanted Scotland to pull out of the UK and apply to be the 49th state of the USA.

A number of present-day MSPs, including former SNP leadership contender Alex Neil, claim MI5 still monitors pro-independence politicians and may even have stepped up surveillance since the Nationalists won power in May.

So far the new SNP administration has rejected calls to extend the “Wilson Doctrine” – which bans the secret services from tapping the phones of MPs – to Holyrood.

Alex Neil, deputy convener of Holyrood’s European and External Relations Committee, said: “It does not surprise me in the least to have it confirmed that the UK Government has used dirty tricks against the SNP in the past.

“I would certainly not discount the idea that the British state is still acting to undermine the SNP, especially given the substantial progress it has made recently.

“We need to get clear assurances from Westminster that nothing is being done to undermine the democratic wishes of the Scottish people.”

Margo MacDonald, the independent nationalist MSP and former SNP deputy leader, added: “Scotland is strategically important and energy rich, and I think it would be extraordinary if the security services weren’t taking a close interest in recent developments in Scotland.”