Reading through the introduction to the book published yesterday by the Institute of Welsh Affairs, Politics in 21st Century Wales, I felt a sense of relief that I don't work for the Liberal Democrats, and in particular Kirsty Williams. Whilst the author of the introduction, Anthony Barnett, praised the contributions made by the other contributors - Rhodri Morgan, Nick Bourne and Plaid Cymru's very own Adam Price - he didn't hold back on his analysis of Williams' chapter. Indeed, it's painful to read what he says about her and if I was Kirsty, I'd be feeling mortified. After all, Barnett admits that he's close to Liberal Democrat politics. You'd expect him, therefore, to at least be a little bit kind towards her. But he's not. Read and cringe for yourselves:
"Williams' account of what has happened over the past year and how she wants to see the Lib Dems proceed is a muddle of personal statements and rhetorical cliches. "I came into politics to change things", she tells us, and yes it is a cliche; and worse, in this context it is uninteresting. "The inalienable stakes we have in each other must become a tool to drive forward our individual, community and national potential", she explains, only what does it mean apart from sounding worse than dentistry without an anaesthetic? There is tough talk about "deal breakers" and unpleasant references to opponents. "I want some people to be quaking in their boots at the prospect of Welsh Liberal Democrats in government". Those "some" people presumably know who they are!"
He goes on:
"For Kirsty Williams, "Successful parties are made up of successful people... These are the alpha people... strong leaders are crucial as the party gets bigger". Imagine if such phrases had been uttered by a Tory such as Mrs Thatcher. The fact that such appeals to power through strength are written by a Liberal does not make them well meaning, even if she herself means well. She explains that "...we will need to enthuse people. But passion is irresistible." Sincerity and authenticity are important qualities of contemporary democracy. But surely not "irresistible"! This is liberalism laced with authoritarianism."
Ouch. Contrast this with what is said about Adam:
"...the essay by Adam Price a star MP at Westminster for Plaid Cymru, whose essay fizzes with ideas and addresses some of the key strategic issues about the future of politics in Wales".
It certainly makes me feel relieved not to be a Lib Dem. If I were, (and what a frightening thought), then I'd be praying that Williams won't be elected in the forthcoming Welsh Lib Dem Leadership Race.