Adam Price’s Blog

The Blog of Adam Price AS/MP, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

Adam Price MP / AS - Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

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31st December 2007

Losing Our Virginity

After reading Tim Hames in the Times today I’ve decided against penning my own New Year’s Message though I was pleased to see him quoting Ieuan’s twice despite the dodgy spelling. 

Instead, looking back at the year in which we took that first momentous step from  opposition into Government - and not just any Government but a once-unimaginable Coalition with the Labour Party, I thought I would post some advice from a comrade from mainland Europe where pluralism - or political promiscuity, to use Gordon Brown’s telling phrase - is not just normal, but positively encouraged.  That is not to say it is without its political risks - but there are advantages too for those who enter these marriages of principle and pragmatism with their eyes held firmly open, as Nelly Maes of our  Flemish sister-party Spirit (formerly Volksunie) told us in September at our Party Conference drawing on her party’s experience of coalition at both federal and Flemish Government levels.  I reproduce here her ‘ten commandments’ for parties entering coalitions.  We would do well do remind ourselves of each and every one of them during 2008.

The Ten Commandments

In opposition, credibility is very high.  It’s important to always keep your soul.

1.  Prepare your voters.

You are an alternative party, not an opposition party, by principle.  You want to realise the programme.  Realising the programme cannot be achieved in one go.

2.  Only go for negotiations when your party is needed and its numbers mathematically are needed to create a government, to make its programme and to implement it.  Then your party will prove to be not just credible, but useful too.

3.  Go for government if the results of the negotiations are positive: i.e. if you will realise an important part of your programme, if you are not blocking further evolution and the price to pay is not too high.

Your party is no longer a virgin.  This, in itself, is a high price.

4.  Seek a democratic decision within the party and the movement before going ahead.

5.  If you are the smallest partner in the coalition, don’t get eaten.  Maintain your own style and identity.

6.  Cliam respect.  One of the ways to claim such a respect is the guarantee of a timetable.

7.  Beware of:

- promises without guarantee

- stay needed; refrain from being the fifth wheel on the wagon

- do a good job; be mindful of your partner’s greater experience in power.  Don’t be naive.

- Take credit for what you do; make it known through the media, among your members and voters

8.  Beware of the will of your opponents - who are only temporary partners - to steal your credibility, but at the same time you have to be loyal to them.  This is a delicate balance.

9.  Stay united (leadership!)

10.  After an important defeat or loss of elections, don’t hang on for the sake of power’  Leave the government and go into opposition to regain credibility and to renew your political personnel.  Seek your soul and save your party as an instrument to realise your programme.

Gyda’r geiriau hynod ddoeth hynny ga i ddymuno i chi gyd blwyddyn newydd dda. 



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