We're waiting for the slap down, Nick

“Frankly, it would be a disaster if our leadership in the Assembly doesn’t slap this down immediately. Even if it was a question of flying a kite, it is deeply disturbing. The first I knew about this was from the Western Mail – and I believe it’s the first Nick knew of it too.

“It raises serious questions about whether Cheryl Gillan and David Jones are the right people to be shadowing on Welsh affairs at Westminster. To imagine that you can suggest such a controversial proposal to a group of Welsh vice-chancellors and expect it to remain under Chatham House rules [where what is said remains confidential] is extremely naive – it wasn’t an internal party meeting with a group of enthusiastic PhD students, after all.

“There is now a very real prospect of electing a Conservative Government. We can’t take the electorate for granted, but it is very likely that will happen.

Nick has to make it absolutely clear that there is no question of any of the Assembly’s powers being taken back to Westminster.”

Western Mail, 4 June 2009

Those are the words of what the Western Mail chooses to call a "senior Tory" in response to the shadow Secretary of State for Wales' proposal to transfer powers over universities from the National Assembly back to Westminster.

And these are the words of another, taken from the same article:

“This sends out a disastrous message. The Welsh Conservative Party has made great strides in recent years by embracing devolution and presenting itself as a truly Welsh party, rather than simply as an offshoot of the English Conservative Party.

“Something like this risks putting back whatever progress we have made for a generation. Nick Bourne must show strong leadership and insist there must be no question at all of any powers being taken back by Westminster.

“David Cameron needs to make it absolutely clear that, if the Assembly carries a motion calling for a referendum on primary lawmaking powers, a future Conservative Government would not seek to block such a referendum. He hasn’t made such a commitment yet, but it’s essential that he does so.”

Well, Nick Bourne, this is your chance to act as leader of your party in Wales. What are you waiting for?


The polls have now closed. You can speak your mind without the, quite legitimate, excuse of being preoccupied with the European election.

But bear in mind that your party colleagues have been much quicker to leap in, even in the middle of an election campaign. David TC Davies wasted no time in saying what he thinks:

“I fully support the idea of taking powers over higher education back to Westminster.

“In exactly the same way as the Assembly Government takes powers away from local authorities if they fail to deliver a quality service, the same should apply to the Assembly itself.

“On that basis, I would support Westminster taking back powers over aspects of the NHS.”

At the other end of the Conservative spectrum, the "devo-friendly" Dylan Jones-Evans and Glyn Davies have also just started talking about taking powers from the Assembly and giving them to local authorities ... even though there is even less support for that in Wales than for keeping powers at Westminster, as I noted here.

It sounds like a pincer movement to me. In my opinion being a Tory is rather like being on the rungs of a political ladder descending into the abyss. But when those whose heads are just about in fresh air start agreeing with those whose heels are very definitely being licked by the flames, the rest of us have every reason to be afraid ... very afraid.

So come on Nick Bourne. It's not just the rest of us, senior members in your own party are urging you to do it. Let's see you press for this "essential commitment" from David Cameron. And let's see you "slap down" your shadow Secretary of State for Wales.

Bookmark and Share


Glyn Davies said...

I cannot recall an instance recently when I've suggested transferring power from the Assembly to local authorities - though I do accept that as an Assembly Member, I was opposed to 'creeping' hypothecation within support grant systems.

MH said...

Hi Glyn, thanks for the comment and sorry for the delay in replying.

I was referring to your Power to the People post on 26 May.

"There was also a lot about returning power to local control. Instinctively, I favour this approach, but there's is a lot of work transferring the principle into reality."

Post a Comment