Sunday, February 14, 2010

THE referendum

The dominant issue in Welsh politics over the next eight months will be the referendum on granting law making powers in all devolved areas to the National Assembly for Wales. I expect it to be held in October. It will be a major issue during the run-up to the May 6th General Election - despite many not wanting it to be so. Of course, repairing our broken economy, the war in Afghanistan, cleaning up our politics and controlling immigration will be key issues, but in Wales, how we are governed should also be an issue. It will certainly feature as part of my campaign - even though I do not think this will be electorally advantageous. Its just that its an issue I really care about.

Today's politics show featured the eccentric Presiding Officer of the Assembly, Lord Elis Thomas. He's a class act - sometimes outrageous, sometimes forensically logical. Today, he was reason personified. I agreed with all that he said, including his acceptance that referendums are going to become a common occurrence in Britain. Our politics has become such a mess that I'm game to try new ways of engaging people. Only negative aspect of the interview was that it didn't add anything to what we already knew.

Matt Withers also went big on the 'Assembly Powers' referendum in today's Wales on Sunday. He was addressing the tricky question of 'The Question'. We know that this is not an easy issue to resolve. Personally, I'm favouring the idea of having two questions, a 'formal' question on the ballot form, and an informal question as the basis for public debate. The former would be something like "Do you support moving from Part 3 to Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act" - while the latter would be something like "Do you support granting law making powers to the National Assembly for Wales in all currently devolved policy areas." Actually, I could live with the second of these questions being on the ballot paper, but suspect it will not satisfy constitutional lawyers. I can see no reason whatsoever why this question cannot be decided on now.


Anonymous said...

"It will be a major issue during the run-up to the May 6th General Election - despite many not wanting it to be so."

As that phrase goes, "You have that right".

The most urgent desperate issue is the Welsh economy - Wales is at crisis point - more delay in accepting solutions to fix this issue will HURT so much more.

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - In my speech to the Montgomeryshire Conservatives yesterday, I said that the most important issues that will face an incoming government will be restoring our public finances, the war in Afghanistan, rebuilding respect for democracy following expeses abuse, and contol of immigration. And I added that because of my experience as an Assembly Member for 8 years, the future governance of Wales was bound to be a leading issue for me as well. I believe how we are to be governed is an important issue. It difficult to believe that anyone should think otherwise. And discussion of this issue does not in any way preclude discussion about the Welsh economy.

Lightning in a Snow Storm said...

"And discussion of this issue does not in any way preclude discussion about the Welsh economy."

You know or should know one of my solutions Glyn – filing provisional patent applications in the USA on selected/screened Welsh published papers that are not associated with a patent filing (in, e.g., GB, EU or USA) – potential IP (in the USA) that absent a patent filing evaporates 12 months after publication- with a feedback loop to bring jobs and wealth creation back to Wales (via appropriate clauses in licensing deals). Recall that Wales’s #1 expert on aspects of stem-cells did not file a meaningful patent on his publications and consequently donated IP to foreign competitors – similar thing happened with regard to monoclonal antibodies (a business worth hundreds of millions) , and the development of the HTTP protocol – the British scientist who came up with it donated it, and companies like Google returned the favour making billions in stock value while paying the UK Treasury next to nothing (Google pays its “UK taxes” to the Irish Government).

This solution is before the Deputy Minister for Skills, Innovation and Science.

If the Deputy Minister does not ask me for more information and/or take it up then frankly your Party should.

Welsh politicians should be aware of what China is doing right now to boost its indigenous private sector – if they knew, they would be shocked to the core and perhaps if they knew they would snap the Labour/Plaid WAG out of its complacency.

Wales has to sparkle or suffer terrible consequences – the years of Objective One funding (or its functional equivalent) are over.

James D said...

The matter of phrasing the question just shows how poor a model Labour's Devolution is for Welsh Home Rule. (Or maybe I'm just prejudiced, as it's hardly a secret that I do not share Labour's values at all.) I feel that I have no alternative but to go out and vote "Yes" -- the alternative is just horrific -- but I have no enthusiasm for the needlessly bureaucratic reinvention of the wheel that is Government of Wales Act.