Wales politics

Welsh Labour talking to other parties after election

Labour has confirmed it has spoken to other parties in Wales after falling just short of an outright majority at last week's assembly election.

It said informal discussions had taken place after it won 30 of the 60 seats in the Senedd chamber.

Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones is expected to be reinstated as first minister by the end of the week.

But one new Labour AM, Mick Antoniw, said his party should go it alone, and coalition would be "too cosy".

The Plaid Cymru and Conservative groups held their first meetings after the election on Monday in Cardiff Bay. Labour will hold a group meeting on Tuesday.

In a statement on Monday, a Labour spokesman said: "The people of Wales have made it very clear that they want a Labour-led government and they want Carwyn Jones to be the next first minister.

"This is accepted by the other political parties in the assembly.

"Informal discussions have been taking place today and over the weekend both inside Welsh Labour and with the other political parties.

"The new Labour group will meet tomorrow to discuss options and agree the right way forward for Wales. Following that meeting, Carwyn Jones will make a statement to ensure Wales has a stable government."

Mr Antoniw, the AM for Pontypridd, said he opposed going into coalition "and I think we should just go it alone".

"I think it's feasible, it might be tough, but then I don't think people have elected us to have a cosy time," he said.

'Scrutiny and challenge'

"I think really there's an obligation on Labour to form a government. You've got 50% of the seats.

"My bigger concern is that the trouble within the assembly with coalition is that it makes it a bit too cosy and takes away the quality of scrutiny and challenge to what the government is doing."

Labour could share power with another party, as it did with Plaid after the 2007 election, or could work out a less formal arrangement.

Discussions with other parties could involve talks about the roles of the presiding and deputy presiding officers which would affect the balance of power in the Senedd.

Liberal Democrats said they had not taken part in any discussions with Labour since the election, while Plaid Cymru said informal discussion had taken place.

Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "There have been quite informal discussions, but nothing of any substance has been discussed in any shape or form."

He added: "The Labour Party got the majority of the seats. It's up to them to come forward with any offer that they propose.

"The (Plaid) group as decided that we would be happy to discuss anything with the Labour Party provided the proposal comes from them."

'Onus on Labour'

Lib Dem AM Peter Black said his party "would want some reassurance from the Labour Party if they were going to talk to us then we wouldn't want this strident criticism (of the UK government) all the way through".

He said the Welsh Lib Dems were willing to criticise the UK government where they disagreed with it, for example over university tuition fees and on S4C.

"But I think we can't just oppose everything for the sake of opposing it."

He added: "I think the onus is on Labour.

"We are not going to go to them. If they want to come and talk to us because they can't manage in government on 30 seats then we are happy to talk and listen to that.

"All the balls are in their court and as far as we are concerned we will let them decide how they want to go ahead."

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