Like Matt Withers in today's Wales on Sunday, I'm surprised by the absence of any urgency or build up to the referendum on Assembly powers. The people of Wales will be going to the polls on March 3rd, just 8 weeks after we resurface following Christmas and the New Year. There remains a bit of formality with the orders, but the legalities will be wrapped up by the Privy Council before Christmas.
Long-standing visitors to this blog will know that I was very firmly in the Yes camp. Now I haven't changed my opinion, but my status as a member of the Wales Office ministerial team mean that I am now officially 'neutral'. And I'm quite comfortable with this, because much the biggest job will be persuading people to take a bit of interest in it, and turn out to vote. Wonder whether I'll receive any invitations to speak during the build up, or whether I'll be sidelined because of this 'neutrality'. At the least I will arrange a series of public meetings in Montgomeryshire. Public meetings organisers do so like to create a confrontation atmosphere, which demands that there be argument, even if much of it may not be relevant to the question on the ballot paper. The TV studio usually sheds more heat than light.
The big question is 'Which way will it go?'. If there's a low turn out, the result could be a close call. As Matt rather unkindly suggested, the four party leaders in the National Assembly holding hands in front of the Sennedd, calling for a Yes vote, might have the opposite effect. Remember the first Lisbon Treaty referendum in Ireland. I can honestly say that not a single Montgomeryshire voter has raised this issue with me over the last two or three years.