November 11, 2008

The Elephant in the Room

On the one side of the ring is the Welsh Assembly, led by the Presiding Officer, Dafydd Elis Thomas. On the other side is the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, led by Welsh Sec Paul Murphy.

In the middle of the ring is a bloody great elephant that no one seems to have noticed in their little spat over constitutional niceties - the Welsh public. The supposed beneficiary of this Housing LCO.

The word going round is that the Welsh Sec is going to come down on the side of the Select Committee. If so, what are the Assembly going to do? Fill out a complaint form? Spend the next 5 years wrangling over it?

The whole LCO process is obscure, obtuse and open to misunderstandings.

Like this one.

If you were of a more conspiratorial cast of mind, you could argue that this is deliberately so. If you understand a little about the way our politicians think, you might be inclined to say it just reflects the fact that they use a language none of the rest of us understand.

Is it any wonder the bewildered public look askance at all this?

But here's the danger. If the WASC get their way on this issue, then a clear signal has been sent out: whether Labour or Tory government, they can block a referendum and get away with it, too. And why not?

Without a clear expression of wider public support, the Assembly will find itself isolated, and it's legitimacy as a representative institution will take a knock. Some of our MPs probably understand this, and some may not.

On the other hand, if the public were to make it's feelings felt on the matter, the Committee, and Comrade Murphy, might be given pause for thought.

After all, who wants to mess with an angry elephant?

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