Yesterday saw the first step on the road to a law making National Assembly for Wales. Since the people of Wales voted in favour of devolution on Sept.18th 1997, I have believed this type of Assembly is the only logical constitution for Wales. The current arrangement is not worthwhile. Not all members of my own political party agree with me about this - but I genuinely believe that at some stage a majority will, and it will eventually become Conservative Party policy. My respect for the opinions of those who disagree with me influences my opinion about how the Convention, which was announced yesterday, is to be set up to prepare the ground for the referendum on law making powers should operate. There is a big task ahead.
I do not know Sir Emyr Parry Jones - but he is a 'big fish' and something of a catch So I welcome his appointment. I look forward to learning what he is going to do. Is he going to consider things like the number of Assembly Members and the voting system? Or is he going to recommend that more subject areas be devolved? Or is he just going to conduct an ongoing poll of public opinion and recommend ways of persuading people to vote 'Yes'. I suspect the answer is No to all these questions. But I do not know the questions to which the answer would be 'Yes'.
The only aspect of all this that I feel sure about (and this may surprise you) is that there must be real engagement with those who oppose the whole idea. I understand why many people opposed devolution (because I was one of them) and why they are suspicious of going further - but I have found it difficult to engage with, or even find, argument that is intellectually based, rather than instinct based. The Parry Jones Convention must find a way of engaging with the anti opinion if it is to have any point. I do wish him and his team well. I will be supporting his work and campaigning for a Yes vote when the referendum comes - probably in 2011.