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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Referendum question

All hell has broken out in the Assembly with the release of a joint statement co-signed by the First Minister to the effect that Labour will not even consider the timing of a referendum until after the General Election.

According to legal advice circulated to all Assembly Members, if that happens then it is almost certain that a referendum will not be held within the timescale envisaged by the One Wales Agreement. That advice suggests that:

overall, the approximate interval between an Assembly resolution and the holding of a referendum would be about 8 to 9 months. This coincides with the view of the All Wales Convention that:

“The process for calling and holding a referendum takes approximately nine months in total.” (Paragraph 5.2.3 of the Convention’s report) However, this estimate has to be modified by reference to two factors:

Plaid Cymru are very annoyed and behind the scenes are pointing out that their votes are needed to elect the new First Minister. Some Labour members have thrown fat on the fire by underlining that their priority is not a referendum.

No doubt everything will calm down in due course and the One Wales Government will continue as before. However, the possibility of a minority Labour Government hobbling on alone until 2011 is very real and can still not be ruled out. Many in Plaid Cymru must now be regretting the decision they took in 2007 to throw their lot in with Labour.

I think Labour will only support primary legislative powers for the Assembly if they themselves are not in power at Westminster.

Peter Hain himself has said if those “nasty” Tories come to power at Westminster then he would certainly favour full lawmaking powers in Cardiff. So its pretty obvious what this is all about,just as the fudge with the Richards commission the self-interest of Labour, proper constitutional arrangements come a poor second.
The nat-soc thing always seemed a weird alliance. In political teerms it made no sense, basically, the LDs are a progressive party, Labour still claims to be progressive, the Tories are mainly regressive and Plaid, well, err, they're anything between socialist and whatever extreme it is that paranoid nats are prone to, depending on how many votes they can grub locally as a result (remember the 'green' nat in ceredigion, anyone?)

Better Labour lead a progressive minority govt than be sidetracked by the linguistic lobby/badger-killers futher.
What if Plaid force One Wales to hold the referendum at a rare window of opportunity before the Assembly Elections and the referendum is lost. This will put the cause of devolution back a generation and leave the Assembly muddling through with LCOs etc. I'm inclined to the view better no devolution than the mess we have now.
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