Saturday 7 November 2009

Staying calm

I've noted previously that there's a danger that people over-react to statements made by Labour's leadership hopefuls. We all need to remember that they are appealing to a particular audience for a particular purpose.

Today's little storm over whether Carwyn Jones is in order to 'consult' the Labour Party over the timing of any referendum is a case in point.

The commitment to holding a referendum on or before the date of the next Assembly election stands; it's a commitment to which both parties signed up in agreeing the coalition deal. The precise timing of that referendum is a matter for the One Wales government to decide; but it would surely be surprising in the extreme if they didn't want to hear the views of party members – in both parties - before making the final decision on the date.

Indeed, the relevant section of the One Wales agreement itself makes explicit reference to what happens after the Convention: "Both parties will then … need to assess the levels of support … to trigger the referendum". I'm expecting there to be some internal discussions within Plaid – why on earth shouldn't Labour be doing the same thing?

What we all need to bear in mind, as I've said before, is not what candidates in a leadership race say, but what members of the cabinet do when the issue comes before them in due course. I remain entirely confident that both parties understand exactly what they agreed to - and will honour their agreement.

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