Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nov 18th it is then.

Nov 18th will be a big day for Wales. That's when Sir Emyr Jones Parry will present his long-awaited report on the future 'pace' of devolution to the Assembly Government. This is the report on which will be based the decision about whether to ask for a referendum on granting law making powers to the National Assembly in all currently devolved policy areas. I sense that the Report will give a green-ish light, but the issue is whether and when the Coalition partners will go for it.

The timing of this has turned out to be interesting, for several reasons. Firstly, it will put the three runners in the race to become Assembly First Minister on the spot. They are going to have to make public what they think - and tell everyone with a vote in the leadership contest as well. It could make a difference - or not. Don Touhig (whom I think of as an anti) is reported to have declared for Edwina Hart (who has already declared as a pro)! Secondly, there's the imminence of a General Election. If the Assembly Government decide to go for it, all Westminster political parties will have to clarify their response. And thirdly, there's the issue of timing. I don't know how long these things take, but I can't see any reason why the UK Government cannot be asked to hold a referendum in very short order. And then once the question has been asked of Westminster, would the decision to hold the referendum, including precise wording, choice of date etc. be taken before a General Election or afterwards.

I didn't make a submission to the Jones Parry Commission myself. Thought about it, and then decided against. It was the pussy footing of the Coalition partners that put me off. If they weren't prepared to commit to a referendum with any urgency, why should I. Actually, I did change my mind two days before the deadline, after an old friend telephoned to press me to do so, but as bad luck would have it, circumstances conspired to prevent me doing so.

Regular readers of this blog would have known what my submission to the Commission would have said. The preamble would have riled some of my commenters, because it would have declared my unshakable belief in the United Kingdom. Even David Davies MP would have been proud of the first paragraph. Then I'd have gone on to discuss my commitment to a stable constitution - leading on to the constitutional instability inherent in the current Act. Its only when I would have moved on to the conclusions I draw that I'd have invited trouble. Seems logical to me that the only way to create the constitutional stability I crave is to grant full law making powers to the National Assembly in all currently devolved policy areas - to Part Four of the 2006 Act.

For two and a half years, this issue has flickered intermittently on our consciences. On November 18th, it will burst into flame. But will this flame be stoked up onto a firestorm of action, or will it be allowed to peter out? I genuinely do not know.


Penddu said...

I understand that the report will be very positive, and that the opnion polls are pointing to a decisive Yes vote.

But Peter Hain and friends worry me as they will start political manouvering to enhance the Labour Party at the expense of the people of Wales.

And Cheryl Gillans recent pronouncements clearly show that a referendum has to be pushed forward quickly as there are enough 'antis' in the Conservatives to stop the process dead.

alanindyfed said...

Remaining a part of the United Kingdom is incompatible with the future course of the nation (Wales) and historically unsustainable as events unwind. The deciding factor will be secession of Scotland in which case the Union will be no longer. The Scots are the Irish with a different accent but similar spirit and desire for autonomy. Despite a misapprehension by many foreigners those who come from Britain are not necessarily English. Putting the constitution right will rectify this notion.

Same as the word verification said...

"Well, smoke me a kipper" ... "It's Nov. 18th, Bath time!"

Glyn Davies said...

Penddu - No-one has stopped the Labour/Plaid coalition from going for it before now. Its two and a half years since they made the promise.

Alan - I really like predictable people. You know where they stand.