Saturday 21st February according the the news media was the day that civil war broke out in Plaid Cymru with the vote in the Plaid Cymru National Council. For the uninitiated, its the National Council that decides on policy and receives reports on Party activites on a quarterly basis, it is second only to the Annual Conference in its importance. The National Executive meets on a more regular basis to decide how to implement policy and make policy recommendations to Conference and Council. Confused? it seems to work and provide a democratic mandate.
A difference of opinion was always going to happen when you have two political parties working together in the Assembly each having to implement the other party's policy. Remember, implementing top up fees is a Labour policy. QED. Its an inevitable consequence of coalition politics which those reporting and commenting on a traditional adversarial politics fail to take into account.
Its a difficult choice primarily the result of a difficult settlement for the Assembly by Westminster. Also an underspend in the health service in England will mean less money fro Wales but that's another matter for another blog. Do Plaid Cymru Ministers in the Assembly have difficult choices to make? YES. Are they going to be criticised for this? YES. Are they compromising? YES. Of course the Lib Dems will criticise but have they got an alternative position. Be ready for a flood of misleading leaflets.
This is where I have to think hard about compromise myself, I have called for, and still believe that there is a strong case for a veterinary school in Wales, preferably located in Aberystwyth. Now, where will the funding come from for this potential development. The public purse is tight and and I am reluctant to accept until all other alternatives have been explored, that the only source will be top up fees.
To finish, why wasn't I at the National Council? Well I had a more important duty, we had a visiting day in the University and I was working - and it was a successful one. If we don't attract and recruit students to Aberystwyth on the basis of academic rigour, academic success, interesting courses, research excellence and that it is a particularly nice place to live and work then everything else doesn't matter.