Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Price of Foolishness.

Its enough to bring despair down upon the head of any reasonable Welshman, who wants to see Wales well governed within a settled British constitution. Since it was first proposed, I have described the 2006 Government of Wales Act as "a constitutional crisis waiting to happen". This BBC report could well describe the arrival of such a crisis. After the Act was passed, I took the view that we must try to make it work. So it was no surprise that I was horrified when the Coalition Government proposed a Legislative Competence Order asking for the powers to abandon Right-to-buy to be transferred to the National Assembly. Fools I thought - bl****y fools. The subtlety of a clunking fist. A stand off was inevitable, as it usually is when politicians start waving their p****s in the air, advertising their virility.

Well, we are where we are. So what happens now. It looks as if Rhodri Morgan wants to back down - but we do not know how many of his AMs agree with him. On balance, I think that this is sensible - but it does depend on the terms of the agreement that MPs and AMs arrive at. Inevitably any agreement will act as a precedent to some degree, but some form of words must be found to minimalise the precedent involved - or the Act becomes meaningless. The big issue is of course the declared intention of the Coalition to ask for powers over the Welsh Language to be transferred. Its ironic that playing silly games over Right-to-buy has made it much more difficult for the Assembly to win powers to legislate for the Welsh Language.

The politics of this are very interesting. Because this issue has reached stand-off stage, Plaid Cymru supporters will be mightily miffed if the LCO is diluted as the MPs want. And they will be even more miffed if the Welsh Language LCO is now watered down as well. (For what its worth I think this would have been a better battleground, if battleground there was going to be). Oh, and then there's the failure to deliver a referendum on law making powers - another promise in the Coalition policy agreement which persuaded Plaid Cymru supporters to back Ieuan Wyn Jones decision to prop up Labour in Government, rather than enter a 'Rainbow' coalition. I suspect it will be a bit more than some supporters will put up with.

UPDATE - just watched Betsan on Dragon's Eye, who reads the situation exactly the same as I do. For months, I thought I was ploughing alonely furrow on this - so its nice to see that I've become 'mainstream'.


Anonymous said...

to be fair Glyn I agree that some supporters maybe unhappy at the moment but the vast majority will agree plaid did the right thing after seeing the lord Roberts report. Clearly what Nick Bourne was offering wasn't going to be backed by the party and Plaid would be left instead of in a position battling for a referendum and other issues in a position where there would be no chance of support for a parliament and having the likes of david jones and david davies leading the charge against the wlesh language and housing LCO's. There would have been far more friction between plaid and the tories than there is between plaid and labour

Anonymous said...

One has to wonder about Kirsty William's failure to reign in Peter Black. If Kirsty can't even do that, what hope is there for the Welsh Lib-Dem Party if she wins the leadership contest?

Glyn Davies said...

anon - I don't take such a negative opinion of the Robert's Report as you do. I accept that it does not take a definitive stance on what should be Conservative policy if there were to be a Conservative Government but, personally, I have not the slightest doubt that if the National Assembly asked for a referendum to be held, it would be held. The other reason I'm content with Lord Robert's Report is that the position is changing all the time, and a definitive report may well become outdated. For example, the promise of a referendum has gone steadily backwards over the last year.I cannot speak for others, the AMs or the MPs, but I would have thought having Conservatives as part of a ruling Coalition would have involved a commitment by my Party to whatever policy programme that the coalition was based on.

anon 2 - Don't know.