by Shaun Bendle
Mere days after ensuring that Welsh Labour’s budget would pass through the Assembly, Plaid Cymru has ended their “compact” co-operation deal with Labour.
The news was broken to Welsh Labour through a private phone call between Plaid leader Leanne Wood and First Minister Carwyn Jones. Plaid Cymru has blamed Labour’s “managerialism and centralist thinking” for the split. The compact was agreed upon after last year’s Assembly elections, in which Welsh Labour managed to retain 29 seats and upheld their majority through agreements with other parties and politicians, such as Lib Dem AM (Assembly Member) Kirsty Williams, later joined by Plaid Cymru defect Independent AM Dafydd Elis-Thomas. According to the compact, some of Plaid’s policy programmes would be included in the Welsh Government. In a tweet, Plaid Cymru AM Adam Price revealed that the decision had been made before summer.
Carwyn Jones has said “Our conversation was amicable and we agreed that it was important to keep open lines of communication”, adding that “from our viewpoint the compact gave Wales some welcome stability at a time of great uncertainty”.
Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies has looked unfavourably upon the decision, saying “People across Wales will see straight through this duplicity”, claiming that “continuing to support Welsh Labour’s budget in the absence of an agreement shows Plaid’s support has never been cheaper.”
In a letter, Leanne Wood has given reasons for backing out of the compact, including “Plaid Cymru want to stop the increase of tuition fees and stop the loss of so many of our graduates” (referring to the Diamond Review which sacrifices low tuition fees for higher maintenance grants). Alongside “[scrapping] the public sector pay gap in the NHS. We are intent on stopping the M4 Black Route (a proposal to build a new stretch of road to ease congestion around Newport), to make sure that infrastructure spending is more equally allocated throughout our country.”
“The budget deal represents a natural conclusion to the Compact. The two-year deal takes us to the position where we can provide a clear alternative in advance of the next Assembly election. The commitments we have secured represent the green shoots of our programme for government. We must all work towards a goal of government if we are to see these foundations built upon”.
As the Welsh Government still holds 31 seats they still retain a majority in the Assembly (although by only one seat). This means there’s no Assembly election due until 2021.