Long standing readers of this blog will know of my admiration for the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas. He's not quite in the Shane Warne/Ian Botham league of 'making things happen', but Dafydd does add a dash of spice to the depressingly drab politics of Wales. My admiration is founded on Dafydd's Machiavellian cunning, shameless pragmatism, strutting grandeur, and inbuilt 'Welshness' - all put. with a natural selflessness at the service of his and my nation.
But......sometimes he irritates - just like Shane Warne on his mobile. He was at it again last week at the National Eisteddfod. No way was he going to allow the yet to be ennobled Lord Wigley to dominate the headlines with his rather predictable speech about law making powers for the Assembly. He decided to have a dig at the Tories. I didn't comment on the speech at the time - because it niggled me more than the gnats on the terrace at the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel the same evening. In order to ensure that his presence was properly noticed, Dafydd suggested that the current absurd system by which law making powers are being transferred to the National Assembly is under threat if the Conservatives win the next General Election. And Matt Withers, in today's Wales on Sunday has bestowed on the 'heir to Lloyd George' the publicity which he craves.
Let us consider the Lord's concerns. Firstly, there's the failings of the current hideously complex system of transferring powers by means of Legislative Competence Orders. You would be forgiven for thinking it was nothing to do with Lord Elis Thomas himself - but it was none other than he, together with Peter Hain who came up with it, and has defended it, being rather rude to BBC journalists who dared suggest it was a tad too complex to be workable. Truth is it's a dog's breakfast - repast that Dafydd had a hand in creating. And secondly, there is the small matter of two LCOs (relating to housing and the Welsh Language) which have been scuppered by MP's who have utilised constitutional devices which had not been foreseen. MPs gave consideration to LCOs as if they were 'measures' (laws) rather than transfers of the power to make laws - exactly as some of us predicted would happen when the 'bonkers' system was passed into law. But the relevant point here is that it was not the Tories wot done it. We are but a minority on the relevant Westminster committee. It was Paul Murphy and Labour wot done it. Your coalition partners Dafydd. And thirdly, there is the referendum on transferring law making powers in all devolved policy areas to the National Assembly - or moving to Part four of the Government of Wales Act. This was promised by Dafydd's party in May, 2007 - to take place before 2011. If the Conservative Party wins a General Election held in May 2010 (as most now seem to expect), Dafydd's coalition will have had three years to act on its promise. But no. All we've seen is procrastination, faffing around, and coming up with every excuse in the book (and some new ones) to avoid embarrassing those committed Labour referendumites, Touhig, David, Hain and Murphy at Westminster. But as soon as the Tories look as if they might win power, (and there's something typically Welsh about this), there's a 'Bwgan' to blame. So so predictable.
Anyway, you never know. Montgomeryshire might elect a Conservative who will refuse to slot in into the 'Tory image' selected for Conservative MP's that Dafydd and his political colleagues are depending on - someone who is as 'Welsh' as any single one of them. The 'Bwgan' might turn out to be benign.