Wednesday 5 November 2008

This is no fudge

In current management speak, it's called a hospital pass - a piece of work at which you cannot win, whatever you do. The only surprising thing is that a man of Sir Wyn Roberts' experience was silly enough to accept it.

He was onto a loser from the outset – trying to square the circle between a leader in Wales who wanted to go one way, and a reluctant party which instinctively wants to go the other. So he came up with the classic compromise – he proposed yet another review. (What the difference is between the proposed root and branch review and the one already held by the Richard Commission is an interesting question which no Tory has yet attempted to answer as far as I am aware. I suspect that the key difference is that, for most of the Conservative Party, Richard came up with the 'wrong' answer.)

I think Betsan Powys is more than a tad too kind in calling this a 'fudge' – it seems to me that it has far less substance than that. It's a complete non-answer, which moves his party not one inch further forward than it was six months ago.

There is some debate about whether the report does or does not imply that no Tory Secretary of State would veto a request for a referendum from the Assembly – Betsan and Vaughan seem to be at odds on that specific. But I wonder if it really makes that much difference - I cannot see any Tory majority in the House of Commons ever allowing a referendum to be held, so why would any Tory Secretary of State need to veto it?

We have also had yet more disturbing indications today that Labour are not over-keen on living up to the commitment that they gave in One Wales. Vaughan half suggests that that might put alternative arrangements in Cardiff back on to the table - but Sir Wyn's report has surely scuppered any remaining hope of that. Why on earth would Plaid want to move away from working with a party which is hesitating over a commitment it has given to one which won't even give a commitment? Looks a bit like frying pans and fires to me.

What is most disheartening of all to those of us who want to see further progress is that all this debate isn't even about what powers the Assembly should have next - that's already defined in the Government of Wales Act. The debate is limited to the simple question of whether those powers should be transferred neatly and tidily in one single step, or whether they should be transferred salami-style over the next decade or two, with LabourTory backwoodsmen in London debating and obstructing line by line every step of the way. And the difference between Labour and Tory on this is looking increasingly small.

1 comment:

Draig said...

The politicians can argue over this all they like. The rest of us are now doing what they won't - and organising our own Yes campaign.