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Monday, January 24, 2011

Mixed messages on the referendum

With True Wales going their own sweet way in organising a so-called grassroots campaign without any public subsidy, it is more important than ever that those seeking to win this referendum on Assembly powers remain united and on-message.

Unfortunately, that has not stopped some key campaigners making claims for a 'yes' vote that will not stand up to scrutiny. Former Plaid Cymru candidate and ex-national chair, John Dixon highlights one particular instance on his blog where he believes that Peter Hain may have got a bit carried away.

He says that although the conversion of Peter Hain from prophet of doom to enthusiastic supporter of a yes vote in March is something we should welcome, the former Secretary of State's reasoning leaves him cold. This is because it appears to be based on an assumption that Wales only needs protection from UK Governments if they are not Labour. He says that 'as with much else, the bottom line seems to be party advantage, rather than any real consideration of the interests of Wales':

Hain doesn’t help matters by talking about a yes vote giving the Welsh Government the power to transform the Welsh economy. It doesn’t give them that at all, as MH has pointed out on Syniadau. It’s just another false prospectus of the sort which is likely, over time, to add to the disconnect between politicians and everyone else. There are plenty of reasons for a yes vote in March without resorting to this sort of tactic.

In today's Western Mail, former Labour Bridgend Council Leader, Jeff Jones agrees. He says:

“[Peter Hain] argues the canard that full lawmaking powers will help the economy without anything to back up such an assertion. All it does is lead to more cynicism on the part of the electorate.

“His arguments about the Government of Wales Act 2006 are laughable. It’s because of that Act that we are having no meaningful debate now. The debate on the principle of lawmaking should have occurred before the introduction of the LCO system [under which the Assembly can seek Legislative Competence Orders from Westminster that give it the power to make laws in defined policy areas].”

Of course Peter Hain is not the only one giving partisan reasons for voting 'yes'. In Saturday's South Wales Evening Post, the Plaid Cymru Assembly Candidate for Neath offers a similar analysis, writing in the letters page he says:

The need to protect Welsh communities from the excesses of the ConDem UK Government is a powerful argument in favour of voting Yes in the next referendum on March 3.

Presumably, he does not want the support of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Tories in this worthwhile crusade. Maybe there is something in the Neath water that produces this sort of tribalism, though if there is then the Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Llanelli must also be drinking it.

She says in another article in the Western Mail that the decision by the Welsh Government not to call in the planning application to build houses on the site of Llanelli Rugby Club’s historic Stradey Park stadium is a good reason to vote 'yes':

Llanelli AM Helen Mary Jones said: “My understanding is that there were very serious concerns about the developer’s ability to go for a judicial review.

“Rather than being a reason to vote No in a referendum, it’s a reason to vote Yes so we can have a more robust Wales-only planning system.”

Well yes, we would have the ability to legislate on the planning system, but we could not change the quasi-judicial process that is at its core and as such would not be able to prevent any developer or objector going to judicial review if there had been an abuse of protocol.

The case for a 'yes' vote is fairly straightforward. It would be administratvely and financially more effective not to go on bended knee to Westminister every time we want to pass a law. It would also enable the Assembly to get on with the job it was elected to do and implement the manifestos of the winning party as voted on by the people of Wales.

A 'yes' vote would be a sign of a mature democracy, managing our own affairs within a clear constitutional settlement. There really is no need to embellish that message with claims that are so easily challenged.
I think a vote of confidence of Hain is more like a kiss of death! I hope that if it is a yes vote he doesnt take credit.

What would Nick Cleggs position be on this? Neutral or for?

And finally MORE IMPORTANTLY Mr Black- whats the opinion on the streets of Swansea- yes or no?

Btw you did well on the radio on the weekend!
Nick Clegg will be supporting a yes vote though the UK Government is neutral on the issue.
...and the opinion on the Streets of Swansea? would you say it's positive?
I would say that it is not the most important thing on peoples' minds at the moment.
"...Maybe there is something in the Neath water that produces this sort of tribalism..." and because of this Tribalism by Plaid that I will be voting NO!
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