Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Over the roads and over the fields...

Translation of "Dros y ffyrdd a dros y caeau..." by Vaughan Roderick

Today Wales' government announced a series of capital expenditure plans - some of which are funded by the new Strategic Capital Investment Fund and others which belong to the transport department. Unfortunately there is no money for the chips machine in Ty Hywel.

Details of the plans will appear in many other places. I won't list them here. Nevertheless it's worth noting one thing about the transport plans and that is the emphasis put on improving links between the North and the South. There are a number of plans to improve the A470 in Gwynedd and Powys, and to make a substantial investment to allow the fast rail service between Holyhead and Cardiff to travel through Wrexham rather than Chester. By the way, that service is called the "Gerallt Cymro". There's a forward-looking and modern name!

Politically these plans are of huge importance to Plaid Cymru. I think it's fair to say that so far, the One Wales government has found it easier to realise the Labour party's priorities than those of Plaid Cymru. Ieuan Wyn Jones desperately need concrete successes to justify his decision choose Labour as partners in government.

Two of the Nationalists' main priorities - the Language Act and the referendum are lying in a bog somewhere.

With regards to the referendum, I'm finding it easier to believe in Santa Clause than in the spin that Sir Emyr's Convention is managing to lay a solid foundation for a successful vote in 2010 or 2011.

The language LCO is, obviously, in serious difficulties. The promise was that the application would be announced back in the Spring. The Spring became Summer and the Summer turned to Autumn. The latest promise is "before Christmas". Well the kids have begun opening the windows on their advent calenders - a donkey and a star have appeared so far. There's no sign of an LCO!

Remember that we are only talking of announcing the LCO here - the beginning of the process. The slow and arduous journey through the confusion of the Commons, the Select Committee, the Lords, the Lords' Constitution Committee, the Assembly and Cardiff Bay's committees is still to come. That's all to secure the right to draft a measure. You can add another year for considering the measure itself. Gerallt Cymro and Baldwin travelled faster than that! The third crusade would have arrived back from Jerusalem in less time!

So failing to achieve Plaid Cymru's third priority - North/South transport improvements - would be a political disaster for Ieuan Wyn Jones. Some within Plaid Cymru are beginning to lose patience in the Coalition. There aren't many of them as yet but even the patience of the deputy first minister's staunchest supporters isn't inexhaustible.

Translation by Dewi Dau


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