Watched the Blues playing Northampton on TV today. It needed a good referee to keep control. A pity the Blues lost to a dubious try - but it was the mindless and dangerous stupidity of Xavier Rush's high tackle that ensured defeat. The red card was fully deserved. Looks as if the two opposing sides in the Assembly Powers referendum campaign are going to need a similar sort of referee to keep the peace. Already, Lib Dem AM, Peter Black has called Labour Minister, Leighton Andrews a 'cretin' - and they are supposed to be on the same side!!
The main problem with referendums is that the issue at stake is largely ignored in the campaign leading up to the vote. It will be no different this time. Seems that the first leaflet put out by the Roger Lewis led 'Yes' campaign has implied that Wales will have more money from the Treasury if we vote Yes - £300million per annum more. Well, its the first I've heard about it. That's because its not true. This is a strategic mistake by the Yes campaign - the equivalent of a Xavier Rush moment. Once you acquire a reputation for being economical with the truth, everything you say is dismissed as equally economical. Just ask the climate change scientists at the University of East Anglia. The Coalition Government has made clear that there will be no consideration of the formula by which Wales is funded until our annual deficit is back under control. Also, I do not think the position of Wales' funding can be considered without acceptance that Scotland must lose a good chunk of block grant as part of the same deal. This could prove problematical to say the least.
Peter Black makes a wider point as well. The Yes campaign would be making another Xavier Rush-like mistake if it poisoned the Yes campaign with anti-UK Coalition Government rhetoric. I'm just waiting for the first utterance from an Assembly Minister that the Coalition Government is holding up some Assembly Government request for power - and we must have a Yes vote to put a stop to 'interference'. Such a tactic would end the cross-party consensus that exists amongst most politicians in Wales. The views of the people we will discover on March 3rd. I hope the politicians of Wales, and both the Yes and No campaigns can run honest and polite campaigns over the next few weeks. It might even help to persuade people to vote.