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Thursday, March 01, 2012

No appetite for independence

The BBC have published a poll today that indicates that there is minimal support for independence for Wales, even if Scotland decides to go it alone. The results of one poll has to be treated with caution of course, but this particular outcome is consistent with previous results and therefore can considered to be fairly accurate.

It shows that the Plaid Cymru leadership contest, in which two of the candidates are competing to see who can be the most hardline on independence, is taking place within a complete political vacuum. The party has never appeared more out of touch on this issue.

In contrast, I think all those who believe in devolution will be pleasantly surprised at the finding that almost two-thirds of voters think the Welsh Assembly should have at least some influence over the taxes people pay. No doubt the Silk Commission will have taken some notice.

This view is very much in line with that of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and will, of course, please Plaid Cymru and some Tories as well. Labour on the other hand appear to be some way behind public opinion on this matter. It would not be the first time.

As we approach the first anniversary of the referendum that granted law-making powers to the Welsh Assembly I think it is legitimate to ask the question why we have not used these powers? The caution of the Labour Government is baffling.

I was not anticipating scores of bills but nor was I expecting to have to consider just the one in 12 months, and that proposing minor changes to the way that local government by-laws are made. It is almost as if the government machinery was caught by surprise by the outcome of the referendum.

The First Minister argues that Labour went to the electorate last May with a detailed programme for government. So far there is little evidence of that.
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