Returning to one of this blog's 'hobby horses' today - primary law making powers for the National Assembly. Unless some unexpected gremlin appears, we all expect a Wales-wide referendum to be held in March to decide whether the power to make new measures (laws) in all those policy areas currently devolved should be transferred from Westminster to Cardiff Bay. Regular readers will know that I have supported this development since 19th September, 1997. Oddly, some people are assuming that I'm going to change my opinion because I've become a PPS in the Wales Office. Needless to say, these people made their assumptions without consulting me.
Nothing has changed. Whenever I've been asked, (over a long period) I've said (emphatically) that I have no intention of joining any formal campaign. I even refused to sign a letter instigated by Cymru Yfori last year (even though I agreed with much of its content). I believe that I can have more influence speaking to sceptical audiences around Wales, outlining what is involved. I could never do that as part of any formal Yes campaign. A few months ago I arranged a few meetings around Montgomeryshire, hoping to generate interest in this issue. They were a flop, only reaching double figures once. I gave up on the idea, but following the Electoral Commission's assessment that people simply have no idea what this issue is all about, I've decided to have another crack at it in the New Year.
No reason why being a PPS should change this at all. The Secretary of State and the Minister in the Wales Office are taking a 'neutral' position, which is absolutely fine. My position can hardly be 'neutral' because I've been so public about my support for transferring power to the Assembly over 13 years. I reckon that my strategy of 'spreading understanding' of what's involved will fit in rather well with my position in the Wales ministerial team. And if you believe that greater understanding leads logically to greater support for the Yes vote (as it did with the Jones-Parry Report) I assert that these accusations of being 'nobbled' do not stand up to examination.