Friday, November 20, 2009

What's to be the Question

The dust is gradually settling on the storm blown up by the publication of Sir Emyr Jones Parry's Report on the future of devolution to Wales. Personally, I thought it was a mini-storm in a mini-teacup. A lot of excitement about a report which told us what we knew already, and had known for a long time - even if the information was presented in an elegant and considered way. I thought the 'Broughton Statement' delivered by David Cameron last week was rather more significant. Plenty of scope for 'long grass', mainly because Sir Emyr, for reasons best known to himself, made specific reference to any request for a referendum being held by June. He should have said March.

It was the 'Broughton Statement' that turned Welsh politics on its head. Where are we now? The Conservative Party (in Wales and Westminster) is entirely comfortable allowing individuals to campaign for either a 'Yes' or a 'No'. So no problem. Its unusual, but long anticipated and accepted. But what about the others. The Plaid leadership resembles a horse eyeing up 'The Wall' in a Puissance competition - while the entire Labour Party resemble a herd of rabbits trapped in a giant searchlight. They were assuming that a Conservative Government would veto any request for a referendum before 2011. Just watch for the myriad of reasons that will be trotted out about why the referendum should,be delayed until after 2011. You can imagine the sort of thing. In private they'll be saying "What the h*** do we do now". In public it will be "Leave it until a Yes vote is certain". Well, in my opinion, its never going to be certain. For two years, the Coalition partners have faffed around, hoping that eventually, Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act would just be there for the taking, like a low-hanging fruit. In my opinion, there will be no Yes vote without a fight - nor should there be. No persuasive case. We stay on the ELCO slow train.

And then, what is the question on the referendum paper going to be. Simple is best, but 'simple' I can't come up with. What about "Do you support progressing to Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, which entails vesting in the National Assembly for Wales, law making powers in those areas currently devolved?" OK, laugh if you must - but come up with something better.


MH said...

Back in February, here, our own Bethan Jenkins said that the question should be:

"Do you believe the National Assembly for Wales should have primary law-making powers on devolved matters?"

I think that's very good, but wondered whether it needed to be slightly more precise. My thinking at the time is here, if anyone cares to read it. But, to cut to the chase, my answer was:

"Do you believe the National Assembly for Wales should have primary law-making powers in the areas devolved to it, as set out in Schedule 7 of the Government of Wales Act 2006?"

Anonymous said...

glyn how can you write two posts as different as the last two. its like two blogs in one. brill

Anonymous said...

Hi Glyn. Not laughing. I would prefer a more general question that gives the assembly authority to take powers from central government as they become available, where the assembly believes them to be in the best long term interests of Wales. So 'Do you believe the Welsh Assembly should be able to take governing powers from central government when they become available'.

Glyn Davies said...

MH - I quite like your question. I'm in Cardiff tomorrow, speaking with people who will help me finalise my pinions on issues relating to the referendum.

Anon 2 - I do not agree with you. Such an open question would almost certainly be lost, because it could interpretted as 'the slippery slope'. My view on increasing the range of policy areas, or 'fields' which are devolved is ' Why not, if it would improve the service'. Best example of current debate about this principle, is the comment made last week by Chris Grayling, Shadow Home secretary regarding the possible devolution of policing.