June 29, 2009

A Political Meteorite?

I was very interested to read David Meldings article in today's Western Mail, where he proposes a radical solution to 'federalise' the UK - not as a way of speeding up Welsh and Scottish independence, as opponents to even limited devolution continually claim - but as a way to protect the union, and to prevent its breakup.

Does this mean that the Welsh Conservatives will now actively support a 'Yes' vote in the referendum, or will they now say that we dont need the referendum as it is a moot point as an incoming Conservative government in Westminster will give us a lot more than is currently on offer.

Could this be the political meteorite that will finally wipe out the Welsh Labour dinosaurs??

June 16, 2009

Cause and Effect

Peter Hain just doesn’t get it – in his interview in the Western Mail today, he acknowledges that Labour are doing very badly in Wales and that the Wales of today is a very different place than before 1999.

And then he goes on to say that he doesn’t think that a referendum on further powers will be held within the agreed timetable of 2011.

Why can he not realise that the two statements may in fact be connected? Yet again, Labour are demonstrating that they consider their narrow party political ambitions more important than the needs and aspirations of the people of Wales. They are more concerned with protecting the golden troughs of their valley MPs than ensuring that the Welsh Assembly is given the powers it needs to protect itself from an incoming right-wing government in Westminster.

If Welsh Labour MPs (and I don’t include Peter Hain in that description) were to actually stand up for their electorate for once instead of continually telling us that they know best, then they might stand a chance of re-election.

June 12, 2009

Virtually Yes

Alwyn ap Huw has posted an interesting article on his MOF blog, which makes a very good point about people voting in referendums on issues other than the question in hand. For example:

- If Plaid are seen to be promoting a Yes vote then Labour activists will mobilise a No vote just to give Plaid a bloody nose.
- If Labour are seen to be promoting a Yes vote then many people will vote No just to give them another deserved kicking.
- If all parties are seen to be promoting a Yes vote then many people may decide to register a protest vote against politicians in general.

When the referendum was first proposed, it was never done to further democracy – quite the opposite – but there was at least a clear and achievable way forward. However, following the collapse of Labour in the wake of the expenses scandal, it is difficult to see how a referendum campaign could be conducted without it becoming another anti-government protest vote.

Labour will clearly be out of power at Westminster for many years to come, and Welsh Labour must realise that their only hope of power rests in Cardiff Bay, yet their referendum strategy may backfire on them (and all of us).

So maybe it is time to be a bit creative with the terms of Emyr Jones-Parry and the All-Wales Commission. They have been conducting research into the opinions of the Welsh electorate, and it is clear from the evidence published so far that opinion is broadly in favour of further powers.

So what if Labour were to amend the GOWA Act such that the referendum were to be replaced by the considered recommendation of the All Wales Commission? Treat Emyr’s findings as a ‘virtual’ referendum, as under the current political climate it is apparent that a referendum would not accurately reflect public opinion on the subject.

There would of course be objectors, claiming that this is undemocratic, but there is already a precedent for this at Westminster – whatever happened to the proposed referendum on the Lisbon Treaty??

So as an alternative approach, why not propose an alternative referendum, to be held two or three years after transfer of powers – to ‘recall’ the additional powers. Effectively grant the extra powers under probation, with the onus on the Assembly to prove it can handle them.

June 3, 2009

Not To Be Trusted

Just in case there are any Labour AMs out there who can not make up their minds as to whether to support the call for a referendum on law-making powers, and then campaign for a Yes vote, then this story should swing it.

When (not if) the Conservatives form the next Westminster government, we can expect another appointed English Secretary of State (Cheryl may be Welsh born but has no Welsh mandate) to make policy decisions on already devolved matters without reference to our elected AMs - while insisting we need a referendum or a convoluted LCO process to get more powers.

We need that referendum voted through the Senedd and then Westminster without delay, as it is looking increasingly like Labour can not cling on in Westminster till the new year, so we will need this vote passed before they collapse. If we do not we can kiss our existing settlement goodbye, let alone further powers.