I have waited a while before commenting on the various options open to Plaid and to the internal debate within the party about what happens next. However the time for silence and reflection is over.
Plaid enjoyed a fairly successful election night and the fact that even at their height the Tories cannot overtake us in terms of seats, or even get that close, shows we are firly established as the second party in Wales. So what next?
I find the whole debate quite difficult for one reason only. Although I am not a socialist I often find myself in agreement with the "socialist" wing of the party. In 2003 I spent a lot of time, and money, helping Helen mary Jones in Llanelli (i was living in leicester at the time) and many of the friends I have made in the party are now amongst those who favour a deal with Labour.
I cannot for the life of me understand why it is that people I otherwise have the utmost respect for would prefer to see a Labour first minister rather than a Plaid one. Let us not delude ourselves that there is another choice, following the "no deal" approach favoured by Jill Evans and others (the Peter Black approach :) ) is effectively making a choice of a Labour first minister over a Plaid one and gaining nothing in return.
Going cap in hand to Labour asking for a couple of cabinet seats and a referendum on a partial parliament is deeply unattractive and will send out the wrong message about our party. We urge the people of Wales to have the confidence to shake of britishness and have our own government yet when faced with the choice of leading a government or playing second fiddle to labour the left want the second fiddle option. Its a left wing version of the "welsh cringe". Horrible to behold in people you admire.
A deal with Labour will deliver nothing of value. Rhodri Morgan willl be gone in two years so any long term promises he makes are worthless. It was Labour policy in 1979 to support the Yes campaign in the referendum yet virtually the entire Welsh labour party campaigned against it. The notion that the Labour "campaigning machine" will be thrown behind a "yes" campaign which if successful would reduce the number of MP's Labour sends to Westminster is laughable. Labour will promise much and deliver little just as they did in 1979.
The likely arrival of a Tory government in Westminster will perhaps concentrate the minds of the so called "nationalist" wing of the Labour party. It would be in the interest of a Tory government to have a Welsh parliament and reduce the number of MPs from wales, it would be in the broader Welsh interest to have a parliament to protect it from the worst access of a Tory westminster government and enough people in welsh Labour will see that.
So a "rainbow" it must be. I detect a growing appetite in the party for government and frustration amonsgt activists as to why it is taking so long to deliver. For those that foam at the mouth at the prospect of the Tories supporting a Plaid first minister I ask them do you have a serious alternative? the answer thus far is none.
Social democrats and Christian democrats work together in many parts of europe. The Tories in wales are now much closer to a "christian democrat party" and Plaid is very much in the Social Democrat tradition. The "socialist" left in Plaid is I suspect not as socialist as they proclaim anyway. Is their vision of an independent Wales one in which the state controls every aspect of life? Or is it the one the rest of us share where a government ensures basic needs are met, cultural and language diversity is encouraged,that there are not huge gaps in wealth between individuals, that the market is policed effectively and the environment protected. The vision that all in Plaid can sign up to and not just socialists.