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.