Wednesday, May 28, 2008

So 39% of Conservatives are 'on board'.

Since the decision by Welsh voters to support the establishment of a National Assembly for Wales, I have favoured it being granted law making powers in those subject areas currently devolved. I have argued this position consistently, and continue to do so despite being chosen as a Parliamentary candidate. A few people expected me to change my mind when my interest shifted from Cardiff Bay to Westminster. I have also argued that because this view is underpinned by logic and concern about constitutional instability, I expected that the Conservative Party would eventually come to the same conclusion, and that we would become the champions of transforming the National Assembly into a worthwhile institution of Government. So it follows that I enjoyed reading this report by Tomos Livingstone in today's Western Mail. It seems that 39% of Conservative supporters are now in favour of law making powers being granted, 26% want to leave it as it is, and 27% want to scrap it. I don't know what all the excitement's about because its just about what I would have expected.

I was particularly interested to read the comments attributed to Stephen Crabb, Conservative MP for Presceli Pembrokeshire. And I agree with much of what he is reported to have said. Conservatives are instinctively concerned about any perceived threat to the'Union'. Fundamental to my support for a law making Parliament is that I consider the constitutional position that has existed since 1999 to be a long term threat to the 'Union'. The 2006 Act increased the threat of constitutional instability, in my opinion. At present, its a constitutional crisis waiting to happen.

But I'm still not convinced that there will be, or should be a referendum on this issue until after the next General Election. I disagree with Tomos Livingstone's judgement that there is a split between Labour AMs and Plaid AMs on this. Activists, yes- but AMs, no. Plaid will deny it of course. Anyway, I don't trust opinion polls, and the Assembly's coalition Government has been so lacking in any urgency to prepare the ground for a referendum, that I just do not think that they are serious about wanting to do it. If Plaid do make a big issue of this, I reckon it will be tactical rather than from the heart. And in any case, I still think the danger of defeat is too great, despite the polls. Today's report is both interesting and hugely encouraging to Conservatives who take the same view as I do. I need to visit the Politics Department at Aberystwyth again to discuss the trends and predictions with the authors.

Sorry but I will not be able to moderate until tomorrow lunchtime.


Anonymous said...

Ive published the Professors' report HERE

Jerome Burns said...

33% is almost as bad as the % who wanted the assembly in the first place!!!

Glyn Davies said...

Sanddef - Thanks. It makes interesting reading - especially to a Conservative.

jerome - not sure what you are getting at. I don't know what percentage of Conservative suporters wanted the Assembly before the referendum. Vast majority of us were opposed to it.

Jerome Burns said...

A massive 59% are not fully for law making powers!
You having Dinner with Wyn should have had some profound change in your wanting all this assembly twaddle!
Is this soon going to be official Tory policy?

Glyn Davies said...

jerome - I have supported the investing of law making powers over the subject areas currently devolved in the National Assembly since the morning of the 19th September, 1997. Nothing to do with Lord Roberts.

While I might dispute the precision of your figure of 59%, I accept the point you make. It remains that only a minority of Conservative Party supporters (around 40%) favour law making powers at present. The more relevent point is that its a dramatic increase on previous figures. It is also striking that the figure is so high when many Conservative activists are resolute in their opposition. It sounds as if you are anti the Assembly, an opinion I entirely respect. Its just that I believe it will fairly soom become the minority opinion in the party. When I first said this I was an Assembly Member and there was much mockery. It doesn't look so daft now.

And I have no idea what will become Conservative Party policy. I very much hope that we will advocate the people of Wales being given a vote on this sometime during the first term of a Westminster Conservative Government.