Shouldn't Plaid Cymru lighten up?
Interesting piece this morning from Vaughan Roderick on why Plaid Cymru have plenty of reasons to be cheerful. A bit like the world economy, Plaid are at risk of talking themselves into a depression; lots of senior figures seem very gloomy, and Vaughan is right to point out that things aren't as bad as they seem.
Essentially his argument is this - come the 2011 Assembly elections the Conservatives will, surely, be less popular than they are today as spending cuts start to bite. Plaid, therefore, have a good chance of leap-frogging the Tories and finishing second to Labour in the popular vote. Opinion polls are already pointing in this direction.
Careful targeting of constituency seats (rather than hoping for goodies on the regional list), could, says Vaughan, reap big rewards for Plaid - subject to the usual caveats about picking decent candidates, etc.
He's right, of course. Plaid do have problems, and the party's poor performance in the General Election - still stuck on three seats, no closer to winning Ceredigion or Ynys Mon and not mounting much of a challenge in the valleys - has only darkened the mood.
And the medium-term issue of what to do once Ieuan Wyn Jones decides to step aside as leader remains unresolved, with Adam Price deciding not to stand in next year's Assembly elections.
But the paradox is that, despite underwhelming electoral performances, Plaid remain amongst the most successful parties around in achieving their strategic aims.
If there is a 'yes' vote in next year's referendum on the Assembly's powers, Plaid can realistically claim to have played their political hand to maximum possible advantage, presiding over the creation of a Welsh parliament without making a sustained electoral breakthrough themselves.
Maybe the seaside air in Aberystwyth will help lift Plaid's spirits.
The sea air will certainly dispel the silly season stories about Plaid. The biggest problem Plaid members face at the minute is choosing the most able candidates for the regional list - in the North, and elsewhere, that's a genuine dilemma as there are some very capable candidates.
Plaid is also making the running in challenging the Lab/Con consensus on wealth creation and the need to move the focus away from the City of London to places like Wales. Jonathan Edwards doesn't mince his words here:
“Successive UK Governments have been guilty of basing their economic policy on the financial sector in London.
Consequently, under Tory and Labour administrations, there has been increasing regional and individual wealth polarisation. Inner London, despite the recession, continues to be the richest part of the EU, while West Wales and the Valleys, just a few hours down the M4, is among the poorest.”
He makes an excellent case for the devolving of economic powers, which the Con-Dem coalition is proposing for the North of Ireland.