Monday, March 23, 2009

The All Wales Convention - Tomorrow in Newtown.

Sorry. I'm breaking a promise. Perhaps it was only an aspiration. I had said that I was not going to post again about changes, both done and proposed, to the constitutional capacity of the National Assembly for Wales. And then I get an invitation from the All Wales Convention to be a participant in one of it's 'events on tour'. If you've been driven to pull fair locks from your head, or hurl obscenities at your computer screen when reading my various posts on the subject, tomorrow night is your chance to hurl shoes (or other items of apparel at my person). I will be a sitting duck - at the Monty Club in Newtown, Montgomeryshire. The whole thing kicks off at 6.30.

I must own up to having been a bit disrespectful about the All Wales Convention in the past. Not about the 16 great and good people who make up what's called the Convention Executive Committee, but about the absence of a clear purpose. I have described it variously as a 'Mechanism for delay', 'A grand body in search of a purpose', and as 'An escape route for Ieuan Wyn Jones' - when he finally informs his party that there is no intention of holding a referendum on law making powers for the National Assembly for Wales. Yes, that's the referendum that Ieuan promised his party members and activists would be held before 2011 - the clinching trump card he used to persuade them to allow him the doubtful privilege of 'propping up' Rhodri Morgan in office for yet another term as First Minister. Hell need a damn good excuse when he tells them 'it was only an aspiration'. That word again.

Not sure what to expect tomorrow night though. Last week, I was a guest at a dinner party of friends in Berriew, when two of them started talking about the meeting. They announced that they intended going, with the intention of informing the Convention that they think devolution is an abomination, and the whole damn shooting match should be blown up. I didn't ask whether they thought that the politicians should be evacuated first. Anyway, it should be fun, when they see me on the stage to answer their questions. If I survive, I will report back. Tomorrow, Tuesday, in the Monty Club at 6.30. See you there. And I promise once again that tomorrow's post will be my last on this subject.


Cws said...


I admire your friends for the comments that devolution should be scrapped. The sooner the Assembly goes the sooner we can get money to ALL parts of Wales.
Isn't the settlement we receive from London the same with or without the AMs and the thousands of civil servants to support the tinkering in the Senedd?
If we could scrap all those tiers we could use the £15bn or so making Wales a better place to live!
Nick Bourne was once in favour of not having the Assembly - I guess now he is creaming off the system it would be difficult for him to have those discussions.

Anonymous said...

HMmm...."£15Bn to make Wales a better place to live"...or if a less than sympathetic government in are in place in Westminster, returning funding back to the Treasuary a la Redwood and little funding "to make Wales a worse place to live"...simple choice really.

Glyn Davies said...

Cws - My friends hold an entirely respectable opinion, but its not an opinion I share. I too was opposed to the establishment of the Assembly until 19th September 1997, when the people of Wales ignored my advice and voted for it. Its now a reality. Its not going anywhere. The only responsible course for me is to support a devolutionary settlement that is the best achievable and most constitutionally stable.

Glyn Davies said...

Anons - Sorry but I've had to reject several comments on this post - as they might well be libellous. You'r eok because you are anonymous. They know where I am.

Anonymous said...

Cannot agree with Cws and the Montgomeryshire Flat earth society Glyn - Assembly is here to stay - not even and issue on the door steps anymore. Need to srap a few of these MP chaps with their many homes and high costs.

Anyone who thinks that civil servants will vanish if the Assembly went must be living on another planet.

Best of luck with the Taffia at Newtown Glyn!!

Anonymous said...

Any chance of getting Jeff Jones to one of these meetings Glyn?

Our party are all moving into leadership faction mode a present with a range of choices for we party voters..and devolution development will be at the core of their to who replaces Rhodri.

Cws needs to focus on getting a better deal for us in Powys from Cardiff not fighting old battles which brings me back to Jeff

JJ's sharp mind and views would make him an ideal panel member as the circus goes around Wales. Open views and discussion by a range of people like you and him Glyn is a strength in the body politic that England does not have any more.

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - You make a good point. If we move to full law making powers in all devolved policy areas, its very likely that the mumber of AMs will increase to 80. The public will not wear this without some reduction in the over-representation that Wales already has at Westminster. Constitutional issues should not be looked at with a silo mentality. Changes at one level have an impact in other areas.

Anon - I've seen Jeff doing some TV commentary, and he's usually on the button - so I agree that he would make a decent panallist. Not that I know what it entails yet.

Gary said...

See you there Glyn.

B Griffiths said...

I am puzzled a bit when the Tory lead of 10% is described as comfortable, and yet a 13% Yes vote lead is described as ‘grim reading.’ If only 13% surprises you, then I am amazed. While the tiny but loud True Wales group is busy scaremongering, virtually nobody is persuading people to vote yes when the referendum comes. The question ‘do you want more powers’ itself shows a lack of understanding. It isn’t about ‘more powers’ it about giving Welsh Assembly primary legislative powers rather than secondary legislative powers, so that laws over matters that are devolved to Wales are made in Wales rather this absurdly complicated, cumbersome and unsustainable LCO process at present.

Let’s look at those arguments used by no campaigners. First, a yes vote is a move towards independence. Let’s get real, that isn’t going to happen, certainly not in my lifetime and I’m a youngish 31. Second, they will increase our taxes. Tax varying powers aren’t devolved to the Welsh Government, which dispels that myth. And council taxes and business rates are more or less set at a local level so that too is a non starter.

This is why I will vote Yes. It will make our democratic process 1- Simpler. 2 – Quicker. 3 – Cheaper (how much does the present LCO system cost the taxpayers in civil service time alone?). And some say this is all boring and it’s for political anoraks. But look at it this way, whether the Welsh government can pass laws affects effectively impacts on the quality of your child’s education, the care you or your relative receive in hospital, and issues such as the future of farming, road and rail links, environment, Welsh language, housing, renewable energy and many other things. This issue may not be as exciting as which celeb is bedding who but it’s far, far more important.

Jeff Jones said...

What a mess we are in. Talk about a political class which lacks courage. Everyone knows that privately most AMs believe that the present LCO system is like all compromises a dog's breakfast. Yet no one is prepared to start the ball rolling to achieve the One Wales objective of a referendum by 2011. Why ? Because basically they are not sure what the result will be. A 'no' vote they believe will fatally wound the devolution project and 48% for 'yes' is too close to call in their opinion.What sort of democracy do we have in Wales where it seems that far too many of our politicians don't trust the people. This is what happens when you have a society which does not debate serious issues in a serious way. The pros and cons of devolution were never properly debated before 1979. For too mnay in Plaid it was a half way house to the nirvana of independence. For many in Labour it was a reaction to 18 years of Tory government from Westminster. The only true devolutionists in the sense of devolving governemnt down to a lower level were a small group in the Labour party and a larger group in the Liberal Democrats. Devolution should be about better and more accountable governance. Any politician who believes in law making powers for the Assembly should have the cajones to come out of the closet and start making the case. Otherwise we could be heading again in an age where trust in the political class is at rock bottom for a rerun of 1979. If that happens then those to blame will be the politicians who want more powers for the Assembly but it seems are too frightened to explain to their fellow citizens why laws made in Cardiff will somehow be superior to those made in London.

Glyn Davies said...

Gary - Saw you there. What did you think.

BG - Actually, its about transfering primary law making powers in devolved subject areas to the Assembly 'bit by bit' or all in one go. The reason that 13% is not good news is that I do not think there will be 40 AMs willing to vote for a referendum on moving to Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act. I do not think they will risk it - but the ball is in their court.

Jeff - Spot on. Why the h*** should people like me go out on a limb to argue the Part 4/referendum case, when the two Coalition partners are showing the leadership qualities of a bunch of budgies.

B Griffiths said...

Jeff writes "If that happens then those to blame will be the politicians who want more powers for the Assembly but it seems are too frightened to explain to their fellow citizens why laws made in Cardiff will somehow be superior to those made in London."

I agree Jeff that more powers do not equate to better governance in itself. However I do believe having laws made in Wales over matters that are devolved to Wales rather than always having to embark on this complicated and slow LCO process would be benefical for us and here's why.

I work in the in a Cancer Unit with the Denbighshire NHS trust, and see every day the effects of chest and throat cancer - it's not a nice way to go believe me. The Labour controlled Assembly voted back in 2001 for a ban on public smoking, backed by all the parties. Good I thought at the time. Unfortunately the Assembly could not enforce the ban until Westminster made up its own mind because it did not have the necessary powers - six years later. Just think of the lives that had been affected, indeed lost in those years by direct and non-direct (passive) smoking. If it had saved just one life it would have been worth it. That for me is reason enough to vote yes when the referendum comes.