.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Friday, October 10, 2008

One Wales Government backs away

So now we know. Secretary of State for Wales, Paul Murphy said yesterday that plans for a referendum on extra powers for the Assembly should take a back seat while politicians deal with the economic crisis.

For Plaid Cymru, Hywel Williams MP said the economic crisis shouldn’t detract from the case for greater devolution but he conceded there was little purpose in a holding a referendum that would lead to a “no” vote. “There’s no reason to jump off a cliff if you haven’t got any wings,” he said.

Both seem happy to let the Convention continue its work of wandering aimlessly around Wales looking for a means of letting Labour off the hook on the commitment to have a plebiscite before 2011, but it is becoming increasingly clear that this body is no more than a talking shop.

If the two governing parties were serious about getting the powers that would enable the Assembly to better able address the problems faced by Welsh people then they would be campaigning for it in a cross-party body, not sniping from the sidelines.

The Secretary of State's words sound like an excuse for inaction, not a reason. Nobody is suggesting that we have a referendum now but in a years time it may be possible and we need to prepare. If parties can work together to get through an economic crisis then they can co-operate on the future of Wales as well.

I am in Llandudno at the moment, for the Welsh Local Government Association Conference. Paul Murphy is here too and he has been conducting some talks with local Council leaders about their investments in Icelandic banks.

There were some very dazed looking local politicians at last night's dinner, which does not surprise me in the least. They were already facing a very difficult grant settlement from the Labour-Plaid Government, that will force Council Tax up and lead to real cuts in services. Now they find that substantial resources are unavailable to them and may be lost for good.

I am taking part in a panel later today discussing the merits of blogging alongside Glyn Davies, and Lee Waters. It is meant to be a light-hearted endpiece to the Conference. I would be surprised if many of the delegates are in the mood.

Paul Murphy has just told Radio Wales that it is the Assembly Government's responsibility to ride to the rescue of stricken Welsh Councils, not Westminster. That contradicts the line taken by the Finance Minister in his answers to an Assembly Committee yesterday. The last thing that local councils need is the two arms of national government playing pass the buck whilst their finances go into meltdown.

The freezing of Icelandic assets by the UK Government is a useful bargaining tool and one that may get results, but in the meantime the Welsh Government need to be working actively with each of the affected Councils and Police Authorities in Wales to identify the extent of their exposure and the possible impact on their ability to deliver services. They need to be pressing the UK Government to provide funds so that they can target help to those Councils in greatest need.

We need some action not talk. Those who are reliant on key services cannot afford to wait for the politicians to decide whose responsibility it is to do something about this mess.

Every poll conducted since 1999 has shown a majority in favour of additional powers for the assembly!

There is no indication that the YES side would lose such a referendum! There is no reason for anyone on the Yes side to be pessimistic.

If we're being honest i suspect that for paul murphy holding a referendum at ANY TIME would be a distraction given his history of opposition to devolution - which to be fair to him he has never made any secret of!

I see no reason why basic political activities should not continue because of the curent economic situation. The US - arguably in far worse a economic state than the uk - is about to conduct the most important election that takes place there for goodness sake! No calls there for normal political activity to be suspended. While i dont see anyone caling for the forthcoming scottish by-election to be suspended on these grounds either or next june's euro elections.

So the idea that somehow the case for additinal powers for the assembly should take a backseat until the current economic situation 'settles down' is frankly without any political foundation or credibility.

We have a window of opportunity of 3 years at most before a very right wing tory govt is flexing its muscles in london - and who knows what the consequences of that will be for the entire devolution 'process' for wales!

Basically if we dont have a referendum by 2011 at the latest i dont see how we will get the chance at all!

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?