Monday, 19 October 2015

No change there, then

If I understand the proposed timetable for the new Wales Bill correctly, the plan is to publish a draft of the bill tomorrow, then to hold a consultation on that draft before publishing the final version in February 2016, with the intention that the bill will become law in 2017.
I think that I also understand the political differences about the content of the bill.  Pro-devolutionists are seeking a clearer definition of the reserved powers model which does not take any powers back from Wales, and the instinctive anti-devolutionists, largely amongst the Tories, are trying to find a way of honouring previous commitments with minimum change.  (Speaking personally, when the proponents of the bill talk about giving the Assembly power to change its name as one of the main changes, it simply makes me deeply sceptical about whether the changes are worth the effort.)
What I find much harder to understand is the political statements being made around the bill.
For reasons which escape me completely, the First Minister is arguing that this is rushing things through.  But if he thinks that a two and a half year timetable for something which has been long discussed is a rush, I hate to think what slow might look like.
The Secretary of State’s position is no more logical.  He won’t delay it because that would merely allow Labour to make an issue of it in the run up to next year’s Assembly elections.  So publishing a draft in October, and a final version in February with the legislation therefore under discussion one way another for the whole period between now and next May’s Assembly elections means that it won’t be an issue?
What should have been an opportunity to put the clarity of a reserved powers model in place of the often vague definitions which currently exist has become just another front in the yah boo politics of Labour and the Tories.  I suppose we should never have expected anything else.


Anonymous said...

'... and the instinctive anti-devolutionists, largely amongst the Tories ...' you mean those AM's assumedly representing the wishes of their electorate?

And similarly so with your assertion of a wasted opportunity, 'to put the clarity of a reserved powers model in place of the often vague definitions which currently exist ....' , the views of the electorate remain paramount and I'm not entirely sure you have read this one correctly.

We aren't looking to jump out of the warm pocket of England, just to make a little bit more wriggle room so that we can stretch our arms every now and then.

John Dixon said...

As ever, you seem to start from an assumption that your views and those of the electorate are as one, but that isn't well evidenced. The idea that "the views of the electorate remain paramount" is a statement which is, at a superficial level, obviously 'true', but it's hopelessly over-simplistic, given the difficulties of assessing those views on an issue by issue basis, and the complexities of an electoral process whereby people voting for a party are voting for a package, not all of which might be to their taste, but all of which has a 'mandate' of sorts.

However, that's tangential to the issue here. I can no more produce hard facts to support the notion that there is a broad consensus in favour of a reserved powers model than can you to refute it. It's a largely technical issue on which such information as to public opinion which does exist is more a case of inference from overall indications about where powers should lie.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's time for another referendum ...........................