There’ll be a manifesto a day this week and Plaid Cymru is the first party to unveil its pledges. I’m not going to summarise it – you can read the full manifesto here. I’m halfway through it; we can compare notes when we’ve both finished.
Just a few side notes to report. Every time Plaid launches a manifesto, its opponents want to see how much importance is given to the question of independence, which other parties believe is Plaid’s weak point.
Over many years Plaid has dealt with this by effectively sidelining independence as a long-term pledge and that stance is given its clearest expression yet in this manifesto saying that,
… we remain committed to an indpendent Wales as a full member of the European Union. We understand that this longer-term constitutional step is a decision that will rest ultimately in the hands of the people of Wales.
In this Assembly term we believe that the priorities of our citizens will be better served by devolving a number of services to the National Assembly and reforming the way Wales is funded by the UK Treasury.
It’s a stance that has led some to question what the point of Plaid is now that Wales has a stronger Assembly. In response, Plaid lists a series of next steps: the devolution of policing, broadcasting and natural resources.
I was told not to see the headline pledges unveiled today as the core promises that Plaid would use as a negotiating base in any coalition talks. It’s hard not to take them as otherwise following the prominence they’ve been given.
There were no hints about potential coalition options at today’s launch by the way. My sense is that most would prefer another link-up with Labour but party strategists want to keep their options open.
Labour’s response was interesting: accusing Plaid of becoming ‘obsessional’ with its former coalition partner. But then there was this:
Actually, Plaid’s manifesto contains many ideas that we broadly welcome, indeed who wouldn’t support the idea that we want more jobs, quicker broadband and more effective healthcare?
An early hand of friendship? Or, given that it’s followed by a warning against going into coalition with the Conservatives, an attempt to encourage a split in Plaid’s ranks?
Tomorrow it’s the turn of the Welsh Liberal Democrats to publish their manifesto.
A quick reminder before I go that tonight’s Wales Decides 2011 programme focusses on education. Our Education Correspondent Joanna Simpson looks at how it’s shot up the political agenda. You can see the programme at 2235, ITV1 Wales.