Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Labour thrashing around - dodging a decision.

'The Old Man and the Sea' by Ernest Hemingway is a very good book. I've read it twice. When David Cameron delivered his 'Broughton Statement' it was the equivalent of old Santiago casting his line. The Welsh Labour Party takes the role of the unfortunate marlin who took Santiago's bait. Labour can huff and puff and thrash around all it likes - but there is no escape. There will be no veto of a request by the National Assembly for Wales for a referendum of the Welsh people on the issue of whether full law making powers in all devolved areas should be transferred to Cardiff Bay. If they ask, it will be granted. It's decision time. The ball in firmly in play, and it's in Labour's court. Around midday, the Labour marlin almost ripped the line from the old man's hands, but by nightfall, had accepted that the first swim for freedom had failed.

The horrible reality is sinking in. Welsh Labour knows that if a referendum is asked for, it will not be vetoed by a Conservative Government. Welsh Labour knows that the only time a referendum can now be held is Sept/Oct 2010. Welsh Labour knows that for this to be possible, a definitive decision to ask for a referendum must be taken before the General Election. Unfortunately for Labour, Plaid Cymru activists know it as well. If the decisive debate does not take place, the Coalition will fall. Labour tried it on today with this 'statement', which collapsed before the afternoon was out. Betsan reports on the climb down here. Carwyn Jones, if he wins, is going to have to face down his MPs or lead a minority government. The marlin will surely make another bid to escape - but it will not succeed. After a boring spell, Welsh politics is fascinating again.


D H said...

I think Labour will only support primary legislative powers for the Assembly if they themselves are not in power at Westminster.

Peter Hain himself has said if those “nasty” Tories come to power at Westminster then he would certainly favour full lawmaking powers in Cardiff. So its pretty obvious what this is all about, the self-interest of Labour, proper constitutional arrangements come a poor second.

Glyn Davies said...

DH - Its not that easy. If there is to be a referendum in Sept/Oct, the legal preparations must be completed during the 30ish days of Parliamentary time before a General Election, or the 30ish days between the General Election and summer recess in mid July. If the Assembly has not asked the question well before the General Election, the legislation will almost certainly slip until October at the earliest. This would mean a referendum in the spring, which most politicians, the Electoral Commission, and even I would be opposed to. It would not happen. So Mr Hain cannot have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but what do you think of this?


Anonymous said...

Hain is making the case for the Welsh Conservatives - vote them in and vola, more independence from Westminster. I agree with "D H"'s comment, that Labour is more interested in self than Wales.

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - Different point, but photographs with party leader was deemed to be political, and the money was repaid. Interestingly, the leaflet has a photograph taken with Vince Cable (who arguably is more significant than his leader!). The issue is using the residue of the Communications Alowance after Sir christopher Kelly had denounced it, and Nick Clegg had so publicly backed Sir Christopher.

Anon 2 - Agreed. Peter Hain is probably helping the Conservative cause by his recent behaviour.