Some of his other comments need to be taken a bit more seriously however. For too many of those for whom the establishment of the Assembly is an unchallengeable given, his comment that devolution is a one-way street and that “No-one is talking about taking powers away from the Welsh government in areas where it is performing badly” may be dismissed in the same way.
But, thinking about it, is this attitude of an MP towards the Assembly so very different from the attitude of many AMs towards local councils in Wales? Much of what our AMs say about local councils seems to be predicated on the assumption that ‘if they don’t do as we tell them, we’ll take the power away from them’, because they see local councils as being simply agents of government rather than having any real mandate of their own. The two positions sound very similar to me.
Both are, ultimately, based on a very simple premise – that there’s a ‘right’ place for power to live, and any power exercised at a 'lower' level exists solely with the consent of that ‘right’ place. I don’t doubt that many nationalists and devolutionists would argue that there’s a difference, but I’m not sure that there is. And constitutionally, David Davies is right – the UK constitution quite clearly defines power as being in the gift of the centre, acting on behalf of the monarch whose power was bestowed on her by God.
At the very heart of Davies’ comments is an axiomatic belief about the right of those who hold power to retain it. It’s a belief shared by many of those who are only really disagreeing with the way he applies it. Anybody who wants to disagree with him needs to start by accepting that power belongs to the people, not the centre, and that the people have the right to decide where it should be exercised. Merely moving the ‘right’ place for power to reside from London to Cardiff will never be enough.