Monday, March 22, 2010

Empty vessels making diversionary noise.

Newsflash - The Pope is a Catholic! This was my reaction to the publication today of a dossier from the Labour Party in Wales accusing the Conservative Party of being 'split' over devolution. We all know that there are different approaches to how the National Assembly should develop amongst the Conservative Party in Wales. There are similar differences of approach amongst three of the main political parties - Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. You may be surprised that I've included the Lib Dems, but so many of the supposedly Lib Dem voters I talk to would vote to abolish the Assembly tomorrow if they could.

I'll leave to one side the sheer brass neck of the Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain to accuse the Conservatives of being split - bearing in mind some of the statements he's been making lately. And leave aside Carwyn Jones' increasingly desperate attempts just to be noticed. Let us consider the Conservative position instead. During the 1997 devolution referendum, most Conservatives were opposed to the establishment of a National Assembly for Wales. I was, and campaigned for a No vote. But we were on the losing side. I realised that an Assembly would be a permanent feature of Welsh political life as soon as the Carmarthen result came in. As a party, we accepted the decision of the Welsh people, despite it's being based on a very low turn out - and only 25% of Welsh voters saying Yes.

Today, no-one with an unprejudiced eye could possibly see anything other than a Conservative Party seeking to make a success of devolution. Last month, all 12 Conservative AMs voted in favour of delivering a referendum on law making powers for the Assembly, and some of the Parliamentary candidates standing in the imminent General Election agree with them. I do. David Cameron has committed a future Conservative Government to holding the referendum asked for by a unanimous vote of AMs. That's the one that Peter Hain would like to scupper, and is doing nothing to progress - leaving it for a Conservative Secretary of State to do. I argue that no political party has adapted itself better to post devolution Wales than the Conservative Party. Today's Labour 'dossier' tells us more about the clouds of negativity and vacuity that hangs over Welsh Labour today than it does about the Conservatives.


Anonymous said...

I always say "Is the Pope a Nazi?" when I'm suggesting to someone that they are stating the bleeding obvious.

Anonymous said...

Glyn - I think your own response says a lot more about your own approach to the Assembly, than those exposed in the dossier. It isn't so much that Welsh Tory MPs are devo-sceptic, they are actively hostile to the idea. Given a chance, do you really think Davies, Crabb and Jones wouldn't turn back the clock on devolution?