Election pact talks between Plaid Cymru, Welsh Liberal Democrats and Greens break down

The Assembly Elections take place in May

There have been informal talks about a possible pact between three of the political parties in Wales ahead of May's Assembly election.

I understand that representatives of Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Wales Green party discussed the possibility of working together to present voters with a united alternative to Welsh Labour.

It would have involved a pre-election pact in which the parties would have agreed not to field candidates in some areas in order to maximise the number of votes each of the three parties could achieve.

Those involved in the talks believed the three parties could have won in this way as many as 22 seats in the Senedd chamber, giving them a real chance to form a Welsh Government if Labour lost ground.

After the election, the leader of the largest party grouping would have been put forward by the three parties as their joint candidate to be First Minister.

The talks were instigated by Plaid Cymru who were represented by senior party figures Adam Price and Elin Jones.

Although the discussions were informal and hadn't involved party leaders, they were detailed and the leaders were due to begin the next phase in a meeting last Monday.

If the leaders had been able to reach agreement the plans would have been put to the parties' respective memberships.

The plan fell apart when the Welsh Liberal Democrats pulled out from the negotiations. One source says they withdrew an hour before the leaders were due to meet.

Sources within all three parties have confirmed that the discussions took place and that they've ended without agreement. A Plaid spokesperson said,

A Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson said:

The leader of the Wales Green Party, Alice Hooker-Stroud says she welcomed the approach as a way of trying to form 'an alternative to our tired, inert one party state.'

Her full statement is below:

Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Greens joined forces in a 'progressive alliance' ahead of last year's UK General Election. However then the parties were largely operating in different parts of the UK. It would have been much more difficult to form an alliance when their candidates would have been in direct competition with each other.

Other parties have greeted the news with scorn. Welsh Labour says the 'astonishing revelation' shows 'a complete lack of respect' to voters.

A Welsh Conservative spokesperson condemned it as 'embarrassing' and showing a 'huge lack of ambition or confidence.'

And a UKIP spokesperson condemned the talks as a 'stitch up' attempt.

Update 2030

Plaid Cymru sources close to the talks expected some difficult conversations after the abortive talks became public and tonight there's a taste of what they can expect.

A Plaid AM has contacted me to say that they weren't told or consulted about the proposed pact and will raise it at next week's Assembly group meeting.

They tell me they don't understand the thinking behind the proposal given that they believed Plaid strategy to be to fight to win the election. The confusion is extended further because, the AM says, 'the Greens are not a force in Wales and we need to be beating Lib Dems in key areas and on lists.'

The AM went on to say that they would have appreciated being informed particularly if a pact had involved asking some candidates to stand aside at a time when those candidates are out campaigning, fundraising and spending money.