Labour ousted from Welsh coalition

Labour will not be able to form a government in Wales after Plaid Cymru followed the Liberal Democrats’ lead and pulled out of coalition talks.

Plaid AMs last night agreed to stop coalition talks with Labour after accusing leader Rhodri Morgan of arrogance.

After the Liberal Democrats rejected a coalition with Labour, Plaid Cymru emerged as pivotal in the Welsh parliament.

Labour are the single largest party but short of an overall majority and are relying on coalition support to form a government.

With this now out of the question, Plaid – who hold 15 of the 60 seats – could now seek to form a “triple crown” government.

The move would be a major blow to Labour: After facilitating devolution in Scotland and Wales, both countries are on course to appoint a nationalist first minister.

A rainbow coalition in Wales could also see a Conservative minister anywhere in the UK for the first time in ten years.

Welsh AMs have until next Wednesday to form a government and elect a first minister, or Welsh voters will have to return to the polls.

Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said they had been comparing programmes from Labour and the Tories and Lib Dems. The triple crown proposal “offered the best prospect of getting an agreement,” he said.

Mr Jones said: “A Plaid-led government will deliver an exciting and radical programme for government and will make a real difference to the lives of the people of Wales.”

Labour leader Rhodri Morgan said he was “disappointed” at Plaid’s decision. In a statement, Labour said it thought talks with Plaid had been constructive and suggested a stable programme for a partnership.

However, four Plaid AMs have objected strongly to the prospect of forming a coalition with the Conservatives.

Leanne Wood, Bethan Jenkins, Helen Mary Jones and Nerys Evans have opposed the deal, describing it as an electoral liability and pointing to the Conservatives’ record in Wales during the 1980s.