Sunday, October 28, 2007

Convention for ?

We're still no wiser. There's this hugely important 'Convention' going to be created to 'prepare the ground' for a referendum on 5th May 2011 which will give the National Assembly law making powers - and no-one knows what its going to do. I see warning lights flashing.

We do know that Sir Emyr Jones Parry is going to chair it, and we all know that he was until recently the UK's Ambassador to the United Nations. So he is a really big fish. And we also know that those who want to see a No vote in the referendum have been rattled by the netting of such 'a good catch'. No-one looks more rattled than Peter Hain, as he tours the TV studios to rubbish the Convention.

Its a damn funny thing though - setting up this big Convention and not knowing what its job is. Even those of us who see a law making Assembly as the only logical, inevitable even, constitutional position for Wales, cannot fathom out its role. So far, the only purpose I can see is to engage with the devo sceptics, show some respect for their concerns and take the debate out to Monmouth, Pembrokeshire and the North Wales Coast where the Assembly is not well regarded. Supporters of a law making Assembly have a tendency to dismiss devo sceptics as if they are in some way anti Wales. Self defeating arrogance in my view. Last week's response to a much publicised challenging article by Stephen Crabb, MP for Presceli Pembs was a good example.

I must admit that I don't like the smell of this. It looks like a PR stunt to mark the 100 days of the Assembly Coalition Government - and not much else. Another 'today's headline' not thought through. Its in danger of turning into a shambles, with Sir Emyr walking away - unless Rhodri Morgan and Ieuan Wyn Jones can tell us what his job is.


Anonymous said...

Your comments are perfectly fair. The Richard Commission has already produced a blueprint for the way forward. I suppose you could argue that as a former diplomat Jones Parry might have the skills to sell sand to the Arabs. On the other hand the comments of the ex US ambassador to the UN John Bolton suggests that he will have some difficulty in relating to ordinary people. The Convention has all the feel of we had better do something. The simple fact is that Plaid were pretty naive in believing that Labour would enthusiasticaaly work for a yes vote in any referendum before 2011.Rhodri Morgan might be in favour of it but he is not the Leader of the Labour Party in Wales as some commentators argue. There is no separate Welsh Labour Party. Rhodri is the Leader of the Labour Group in the Assembly who will not be there after 2009. The only certainty that can be said about any future referendum is no one knows how people will vote. A great deal will depend on attitudes towards the Assembly decisions over the next few years and how those who have never voted in any Assembly election will react. Jones Parry and the great and the good will have no effect whatsoever on any result. In the world of digital media most Welsh voters wouldn't even know the Convention exists

Glyn Davies said...

anon - I'm with you on all except that the Convention will have no effect. This may turn out to be the case - in which case it will have failed. Perrsonally, I think a referendum can be won, despite what seems to be the best efforts of Peter Hain - but there will have to be a lot of explaining and persuading to be done. And if not by this Convention, the question is by whom.

Anonymous said...

The problem with all of this is shown by Martin Shipton's article which features you amongst the great and the good. Unfortunately history shows us that the great and the good do not have much influence over those who really matter namely the ordinary people of Wales. In both 1979 and in 1997 the great amd the good were all in support of devolution. The 1997 referendum was won because basically Labour voters
voted 'yes' as a reaction to the Thatcher years. Next time it will not be that easy. Many people who supported the Assembly have been disappointed by the last eight years. It will be even harder in the future as the growth of public spending slows down. In any future referendum my money is on David Davies and his merry men to set the agenda. I'm sure that as the bill goes through Parliamnent there will be an attempt to insert the abolition question.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - I agree with much of what you say - except that I don't think the abolition question will be put back in. There is a huge job to be done to win a positive vote for an extention of Assembly powers - but I do believe that it can be done.
I believe Martin's reference to a 'Heineken' factor was that he thought I might be able to connect with the devo sceptic feeling, because I have alway's respected it as well as disagreeing with it.