Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Turbulence Ahead

Down in Cardiff Bay today 'sprotting' around for gossip (or searching for an insight into political developments in Wales). Bit like calling at the churchyard in Llanerfyl, where half of my ancestors are buried, in that it brings back memories of something I used to do. Yes, I do miss it. Anyway, I stopped off at Starbuck's and had a chat with John Toshack, who looked in serious relax mode, having a coffee and reading the sports pages of the Sun. I 'spotted' him despite his dark glasses and decided to tell him that I approved of his 'Victorian' attitudes towards pampered footballers. This was in my mind after reading the outrageous comments made by Mike Catt and Lawrence Dallallio about England's rugby coach, who only got them to the World Cup final. And I have no time either for the rubbish that Gareth Thomas has written in his book. I'm an old fashioned Tory who believes that managers should manage, and players should play.

Back to the serious stuff. I'm still reeling from the full realisation that a huge row between the Assembly and Westminster about powers is now inevitable - and its the Conservatives who are instigating it. Jonathon Morgan's Legislative Competence Order, which effectively transfers responsibility for mental health to the Assembly is a real big deal. What we have is all 60 Assembly Members supporting a proposition that the National Assembly should be able to legislate on anything whatsoever to do with mental health. Our MPs will not have expected this sort of thing flowing out of the Government of wales Act. They will have been expecting some specific issue in the mental health field - not the whole b***dy shooting match. If 'Mental Health', why not 'Broadcasting' or 'Policing'. Who needs a referendum on law making powers if we can deliver it by LCOs? I see some serious turbulence on the way.


Dai Twp said...

Surely your not realy suprised by this. It's been waiting to happen since the 2006 act was put on the books. The AMs were always going to ask for as much that they can get and the MPs were always going to do their best to stop them.
The act was a tight rope act by Hain to try and appease both sides after the Richard Report. He didn't really appease anyone (and was never going to appease everyone) but what he did do was but some time. Ofcourse Wales's interests took a very distant back seat to Labour Party interests but that's certainly nothing new.
Now the time he bought is coming to an end and the inevitable showdown is beginning. If the AMs get their way there'll probably be nothing left to devolve by 2011 so Touig et al will have no reason to oppose a Yes in the Referendum.

Mountjoy said...

Hain the Pain was not very useful in my native Ulster either, but now he is making a mess at Work & Pensions too. I'm not surprised he's behind this shambles.

Glyn Davies said...

dai - you clearly share my concerns. I really do not think the way things are going are good for the people.

mountjoy - It does looks as if the chickens are coming home to roost

Dai Twp said...

I think the main problem is that when Hain come up with the 2006 act he never envisaged Welsh Labour going into government with Plaid.
I believe he is relatively keen on devolution but is the architypal politician, and hoped his act would allow a steady drip feed of powers to the Bay. Slow enough not to aggrivate his MPs but steady enough to keep the AMs happy. With the idea that there would be a referendum sometime in the future by which time the Assembly would have a substantial patch work of powers with only a few holes left to be filled in if and when the referendum was held and won. Hoping that this would be far easier to sell to the sceptics down the line.
However with Plaid sharing power and hence the One Wales Agreement and the AMs even hungrier for power than he envisaged his plns have all been thrown up in the air with a much shorter time scale set. This has efectively set the battleground and both sides have already began to dig their ditches.
Whether you like Hain or not he has an unenviable task ahead of him. And he'll need all his political skills to navigate a way around it.
But yet again the governence of Wales is wholly caught up in an internal Labour party wrangle.

Jonathan Morgan AM said...

Having only just seen this post I thought I'd clear a few things up. My LCO does not devolve all aspects of mental health law, it is confined to assessment, treatment and advocacy for those who are serevely ill. In this sense it does not touch those matters which are reserved. I have also deliberately avoided criticism of the work done in Parliament on the 2007 Act. My LCO merely adds to our current competence.

Glyn Davies said...

Jonathon - I did not suggest you were criticising anything - far from it. And I agree that it is increasing the National Assembly's competence - that was the whole point of my post.

The area which interest is the extent of the scale of this increase in Assembly competence. Perhaps you are right and there will not be an issue. All I can tell you is that its not what I'm hearing.