You can bank on the BBC's David Cornock to ask the awkward question. I suppose that's why the BBC are so proud to retain his services. Don't know why but I quite like him, despite everything. I look on the Western Mail's Martin Shipton as a good friend as well. It must be that I find the awkward squad more interesting.
Anyway after today's Welsh 'fringe' at Birmingham, I agreed to an interview. And what does he do? He asks for my reaction to the Secretary of State for Wales' announcement that, as a PPS I would now be 'neutral' on whether I support law making powers for the National Assembly for Wales in the March 3rd referendum. Must admit I'd missed this snippet during the hour-long Iain Dale comfy chair platform chat with Cheryl Gillan and Nick Bourne, so felt a bit less than my normal assured self in responding. I suppose it does depend on what you mean by 'neutral'.
Lets look at the history. Until September 1997 I'd been opposed to establishing the National Assembly for Wales at all. But the Welsh people ignored my advice and voted 'Yes'. So, since the circumstances had changed, my opinion of the way forward changed. I took the view that the Assembly would now be a permanent feature of our democracy, and that the only route to a stable UK constitution was to grant the Assembly full powers over devolved policy areas. This blog has very 'un-neutrally' sought to campaign for a 'Yes' vote throughout its existence. So what now. This is what David Cornock wanted me to tell him - and the following is is what I told him.
Not a problem. I don't think anyone is going to think I'm actually 'neutral' because of what is on the record. And in any case, I decided years ago that I would not participate in any campaigning. I refused to sign a very good letter prepared by Cymru Yfori last year launching the 'Yes' campaign - despite agreeing with its content. I'd also already decided to throw myself into trying to spread an understanding of what's at stake in the referendum. And since its my belief that greater understanding leads to greater likelihood of support, I can just about get away with describing myself as 'neutral' - or allow others to do so truthfully. I know this reads a bit 'thin', and I'm not at all sure that David cannot edit this unfavourably. But it seems logical and reasonable to me.