Thursday, 16 December 2010

Working with the (Plaid Cymru) Enemy

Some jest there with the title - I couldn't resist!

But with the festive season of 'goodwill to all men' upon us, it's been good to see a little less of the partisan politics in the County Council Chamber this week.

A Plaid Cymru/Welsh Lib Dem Join Motion
Today, I was very pleased to formally second a motion on behalf of the Welsh Liberal Democrats (our Council Group photo to the right), put forward by the leader of the opposition Plaid Cymru group on the Council, Cllr Ellen ap Gwynne, in support of the extra powers referendum to the Welsh Assembly that will take place here in Wales, next March.

The motion was carried comfortably with only 4 members against - Ceredigion County Council therefore now formally endorses a 'Yes' vote in the referendum next May. 

This was a pleasant situation because it came this morning in our annual 'Christmas Council' meeting which was followed by our annual Xmas Dinner (paid individually by members I may add!). The County Council meetings are normally held in the Council Chamber in Aberaeron but the Xmas meeting is always held in the Chairman's parish so today we were hosted by the village of Ferwig in Cllr Haydn Lewis' 'Penparc' Ward.

The agenda was surprisingly light and there was very much a 'seasonal' feeling to the meeting, with jokes and pleasantries exchanged before, during and after.

Partisan Politics
This is welcome, because whilst in the 6 years that I've been a member our Council meetings on the whole have been held with a good deal of decorum, there have been many a spat and tantrum thrown in the Chamber down the years from both sides of the aisle. It's the way of politics of course although I would like to think that in the round, ours in Ceredigion is more reasoned as is the case with the 'newer' politics of the Welsh Assembly than the 'older' politics of the adversarial style in Westminster.

Certainly, from what I've heard from friends and colleagues across the country, Ceredigion's compares favourably when it comes to how we undertake business. In most Councils, the largest 2 parties of 20th century politics, Labour and Conservative, hold sway. The historical animous between the two - the old dogma of left vs right - is still very much alive and kicking in Town Halls across the land and the vitriol is very rarely far from the surface.

But here in Ceredigion we really are quite unique. There is only 1 member out of 42 that has been elected from either of these two heavyweights of 20th century politics - Labour's Hag Harries in Lampeter. There are no official Conservative Councillors on Ceredigion County Council.

That isn't to say that there's never any animous between the majority of Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrats Councillors of course - we have our moments! But on the whole, it seems to me that ours is a slightly older, rural and not urban kind of politics. Whilst we don't always see eye-to-eye politically in the Chamber, the personal relationships between members is good. I can personally state that I have very good relations with very many members of the Plaid Cymru group. Indeeed, only last Tuesday, their Group Deputy Leader Cllr Paul James happily gave me a lift from Aberaeron to Aberystwyth after we'd both spent the morning sitting on two licensing panels with each other.

I could quite easily find myself going for a pint with many of my opposite numbers. Not all maybe, but a good number all the same.

Positive, Not Negative
It's certainly better this way. Of coure we'll argue and disagree from time-to-time, but when there is common ground, it's better for us all and more importantly for the residents who we have been elected to represent, to come together and to work together for the greater good.

We did that today, and as members of Ceredigion County Council, on this day at least, we should be justly proud.

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