As anyone who has been in a relationship for some period of time will know, over time you come to notice all the little quirks of behaviour of your partner. Some of these little quirks may be quite endearing, some of them less so.
Maybe a similar logic applies to political parties. In which case you might have been forgiven for hoping that Plaid would have cottoned on by now to some of the less endearing behavioural traits of its senior coalition partner, Labour.
Of course it’s true that Labour in Cardiff Bay, now its last remaining UK stronghold, is no stranger to partnership. And of course it’s well known that Labour is apt to ditch partners that no longer suit its interests too. And sometimes, of course, in a partnership things crop up that either party may not want to confront. Maybe they threaten the end of the relationship. Labour has an answer to this kind of scenario too.
They set up a Commission.
So those of us with long memories will recall that when Labour was rolling around in the sack with the Liberal Democrats, and the thorny issue of “more powers” came up, Labour agreed to set up a Commission – the Richard Commission. Unfortunately, this Commission then came to conclusions that Labour still didn’t want to hear. And so it came to pass that, shortly after Richard made his recommendations, Labour dumped the Lib Dems.
The bastard child of this canoodling was the Government of Wales Act 2006.
And so, fast forward 6 years and here we are, Labour are now cwtched up in bed with Plaid, a referendum on “extra powers” is in the pipeline and Labour are whispering sweet promises of another Commission in Plaid’s ear – a “Holtham” style commission”. Plaid have been banging on for years about funding, and now Labour are suddenly making empathetic noises. The fact that Labour maxed out the credit card and cleared out the piggy bank in this intervening 6 year period seems to have passed some people by.
Of course, you could argue that fundamentally, Labour are simply less idealistic about relationships. Certain ecstatic elements in Plaid dreamed of a whirlwind romance, leading to marriage, an alchemical union of parties that would deliver real social justice for Wales. It’s doubtful that Labour ever entertained this fanciful notion.
On a personal level, I suspect that few blokes are naive enough to entertain the notion that if they go out on the piss, spend a bit too much money, and wake up next morning next to an absolutely stunning bird, that this means they’re going to get married (in a non-conformist chapel of course) and live happily ever after, but it seems that certain elements in Plaid do indeed fall into this category of credulousness.
It’s just a pity that they’ve forgotten the famous saying of Ronald Reagan - that politics, as the second oldest profession, often bears a striking resemblance to the first – prostitution. Some people will do anything for money, yet for all the fundamental usefulness or relevance of their promises, Labour out of power where it counts - London - might as well claim that it’ll still rain in Wales the day after a yes vote, but that it’ll be raining tenners, instead of raindrops.
Or tears for that matter.