Well, no, actually the poll didn’t confirm that at all. It certainly confirmed that the people of Wales are far from being convinced that it’s in Wales’ national interest, but that’s a rather different question. An opinion poll can only tell us what people think of a proposition, not whether the proposition is true or not. I wouldn’t conclude anything about the shape of the earth on the basis of an opinion poll, even if the majority agree with me that it isn’t flat.
The paper’s editorial wasn’t much better. It seemed to be telling us almost gleefully that we simply can’t afford independence for the foreseeable future because we are totally dependent on fiscal transfers from England to pay our benefits bills. I suppose it depends on how far one can see into the future – never one of the Western Mail’s strongest abilities. It was, though, a dismal, depressing, and defeatist message to give to the nation on St David’s Day. Keep taking the handouts.
The paper’s attempt – on the basis of a poll of only 1,000 people across the whole of Wales – to tell us which constituency was most in favour of tax raising powers is best ignored. It would give my old statistics lecturer a fit, I’m sure.
The positive part of the survey, from my perspective at least, was the high level of support for taxation powers to be devolved to the National Assembly and Welsh Government. It’s a finding which puts public opinion ahead of the politicians in Wales. Ahead of all four parties in fact.
Plaid’s recently reported submission to the Silk Commission, spelling out which taxes it wants devolved and which it doesn’t, now looks timid and unambitious against a background of 28% supporting the devolution of all taxation, and another 36% supporting the devolution of some taxation powers.
And if almost a third of the public can be ahead of the politicians without anyone even putting the case for devolution of all taxation, what might the polls show if the case were to be put?