Thursday, March 05, 2009

Its all hypothetical though.

Good post by Liberal Democrat Assembly Member, Peter Black this morning. Subject is the much talked about referendum on National Assembly powers that the governing Coalition Government is committed to holding before 2011. Regular readers will know that I no longer believe there is any intention to hold this referendum - but to delay telling us this for as long as possible.

Peter points out that the power transfer which would be proposed in a referendum is not as significant as many people assume. The new position could not remotely be compared with the powers of the Scottish Parliament, where two thirds of the work concerns criminal justice, a policy area not devolved to Wales. In fact, its quite misleading to refer to 'more powers' at all. What the referendum would be about is making some sense of the 2006 Government of Wales Act, which was significant, and did transfer law making powers to the Assembly - but by just about the most complex bureaucratic process imaginable. Its a process that few people understand, and could not be better designed to create conflict between the UK Government and the National Assembly. And it becoming gradually more complex as the Secretary of Wales introduces new innovations as the orders transferring law making capacity go through..

Anyway, I won't repeat all of Peter's post. But I do recommend reading it. I agree with a lot of it - though I would not become part of any official 'Yes' campaign myself. I would probably support a 'Yes' campaign, but I don't want to be sharing platforms with others who have an ideological commitment to what can loosely be described as 'the slippery slope' philosophy. What I want is a stable and balanced UK constitution, based on clear accountability of politicians for the decisions that they take. Where a policy area is devolved, it should be fully devolved. We need to know who to blame.


kairdiff West Kid said...

This is a cop-out: you won;t; support a Yes campaign because you might disagree with some other people who support a Yes campaign. That's sophistry.

If you use that logic you end up not supporting the conservative party because certain other conservatives are, say, anti-immigration, or Europhobic, or anti-Welsh, or whatever. You end with a silly siutation where you partake of no group or movement because some others in that group or movement have views you disagree with.

The real reason, let;s face it, is that while you yourself support more powers, you are dependent on a large number of voters to get you in who aren;t, and therefore you're trimming your beliefs to expediency and don;t want to be seen taking a definitive position on an issue your party is divided over.

That was one thing I didn;t think you;d do. It's profoundly disappointing. Not just the view you apparently take, but the fact that you think we're to thick to see through it.

No, the real

John Brautigam said...


Cannot reconcile your support for more powers to the assembly given your stated positition that Powys and particularly Montgomeryshire would have been better off if devolution had not happened.

Glyn Davies said...

KWK - I took my decision on this a long time ago, an dhav etaken quite a bit of stick for it - much along the lines of your comment. To date, I reckon I've campaigned on this issue as much as anyone. I also reckon that I would do at least as much for any Yes campaign by standing outside of any formal organisation. Joining an official campaign is not like joining a single issue group. Tell me why you suggest that I trim my beliefs. I wouldn't have thought that there are many people as firm or as clear in the opinion I take on this - or as committed to persuading others of that opinion.

John - Entirely fair point, but devolution is a reality that is not going anywhere. Its the real world, which I do think has not delivered for Mid Wales. My views on the way forward are based on what is the most stable, accoutable amd effective form that this devolution should take.

Just 'this guy' in 'DC' said...

Wales has plenty of powers already that it is not using properly. I am, like I have said many * many times, for an independent Wales. But frankly, the WAG remains unable to run the Welsh economy at anywhere near capacity. Instead the WAG sits over a low GVA economy unwilling to harness Wales's #1 asset: Welsh intellectual property.

The penny is beginning to finally drop though - there is now a growing consensus that the universities in Wales should be actively working with the private sector for job creation (as in well paid job creation and with the trickle in/out of support services that will also employ lots of people – this has been explained by others such as Professor Dylan Jones-Evans in his excellent articles published, e.g., in the Western Mail).

But talk is easy, talk is cheap, we need objective results. Turning Welsh IP into jobs means filing patents. Turning patented discoveries/inventions into jobs means commercialization which requires venture capital.

MIT is generating jobs and spin-outs at orders of magnitude more than all the universities in Wales combined. MIT does this with fewer postgrads than the #1 university in Wales and thousands fewer than the #1 and #2 Welsh universities combined. Yet MIT is also very good at publishing their findings in learned papers - every bit as good as any university in Wales. So academic excellence and publication rates are not an obstacle to generating jobs in the wider community beyond the boundaries of the university.

The next step for Wales? Easy: start to change culture by appointing pro IP specialists (especially one or two with US/International experience) on boards/panel running key organizations such as the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), filing Welsh university publications as provisional patent applications in the USA with the aim of generating venture/seed capital for use back in Wales to help fill the venture capital funding gap ... the list of things that can be done to harness the goldmine of Welsh IP are too numerous to list here.

Hey, who I am talking? Just that I am the only PhD qualified Welsh scientist who is authorized to practice patent law DIRECTLY before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) near DC. That's all.

One would think the First Minister would want to put me on a panel or two back in Wales - the knowledge that I have is of MASSIVE value to Wales.

As it happens the First Minister has two opportunities to speak to me this month - tonight and at BioWales 2009 in South Glam.

"DC" guy ... said...

Well, I got back from the Promote Wales event at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Washington, DC.

I can’t quite make out Rhodri Morgan.

I took my mother with me and asked her what she thought of him: “Standoffish”, and that is how I found him: standoffish.

Rhodri gave a speech. Rhodri was on safe ground when he talked about things like the upcoming Smithsonian Folk Life Festival and the central role that Wales would play on the National Mall.

But when Rhodri got into Obama love-fest mode and went on a bit about Lincoln the First Minister dug one hole after another. Did the First Minister not realize that some Americans are Republicans? The more he went on about President Obama the more he antagonized them, I even heard one quip: “Doesn’t he (First Minister) know that Lincoln was a Republican?”

Rhodri Morgan got more approval when he explained that the wings of the plane that crash landed in the Hudson were made in Wales.

Rhodri didn’t help himself when he decided to give his speech from the floor and not on the stage, which meant shorter people had a job seeing him.

Then Rhodri seemed to lose it a bit – his words sounded mumbled and were difficult to make out. Before the speech he looked tired. Maybe he had some jetlag.

On a brighter note, the Welsh Assembly had quite a few people working the crowd explaining what Wales had to offer to investors. I have to say they worked hard and were very professional. The only criticism I had was no one seemed to have ID tags. One of them (Neil Welch) deserves special praise – at least in my book – he went the extra mile. So I was very impressed with the Welsh Assembly business development crew – they worked hard promoting Wales. So hat tips to them for that.