Peter Hain's Swansong

All political careers have to come to an end, and I have to say that I even felt a touch of sympathy for Peter Hain as he was taunted in his final performance as Secretary of State for Wales in the Commons yesterday.

     Hain refuses to name the date for a referendum

Poor man. He put himself in an impossible position by being two-faced about devolution. He so wanted to be seen as a strong advocate of devolution in Wales. He claimed that it wasn't him who was holding back the move to primary lawmaking powers of the same sort (though still not to the same extent) as the Scottish Parliament has had for the past decade ... no, for him it was always the people of Wales who were holding things back because we wouldn't vote Yes in the referendum.

But poll after poll has shown that the people of Wales will vote Yes in the referendum.

Peter Hain couldn't live with that. I believe his support for further devolution was just posturing. He realized he couldn't stop it happening, so the only course left was to put obstacles in the way in order to slow it down. He then convinced himself that the convoluted dog's breakfast that he had devised would last for a generation. Some politicians can adapt to change, but he simply couldn't bring himself to admit that he'd misread the situation so badly.

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But Labour took pity on him and allowed him to save face. The rest of the party eventually came to realize that it was in their own best interests to have the referendum; but by delaying the vote by a couple of weeks, and then forgetting to actually send him the letter, Cobweb Jones made sure that Peter Hain wouldn't be put in the awkward position of having to do anything about it at all. He could just let it gather dust in his intray ... which is where it will now stay until a new Tory Secretary of State for Wales sits behind his old desk at Tŷ Gwydyr. Not that I think she (or he, for the Tories might just get enough seats in Wales to be able to have a Secretary of State who has been elected by people in Wales, I suspect Jonathan Evans will be in line for it) will act very quickly ... but it would be too embarrassing for the Tories to break all their election promises. In fact, they will delight in being able to say that they delivered something for Wales, for I don't think Wales will get much else from them.

And that, of course, will be Peter Hain's final humiliation. By his logic, Labour should take all the credit for delivering devolution – but by that same logic, it will be the Tories that now give Wales a Senedd that can make laws without having to ask for Westminster's permission. How ironic. Peter Hain is the one that keeps saying "it's either Labour or the Tories" ... and he's now scored a spectacular own goal for the Tories!

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Never mind, Peter. I hate to have to tell you this, but devolution was never about either Labour or the Tories. It's been about people in Wales, from all parties and none, believing that we in Wales should make most of the decisions that affect our lives in Wales through our own National Assembly.

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8 comments:

Siônnyn said...

Peter Hain has been duplicitous about Devolution from the start. He backed it in 99, thinking it would ingratiate him with his Neath constituents - a dodgy proposition at best, but at the same time he was assuring his valleys Neanderthals that he would not let it go any further.

Since then, especially through the Governance of Wales Act, he has lived up to his word.

I don't think he is and essentially bad or corrupt man (despite his accounting irregularities), just a calculating, ambitious and self seeking politician.

He's a lot smaller in person than you would think from seeing him on TV. Small man, big head. Literally, as well as metaphorically.

Anonymous said...

The Labour Party is dying. Even if they manage to come through the General Election unscathed they will be changed forever, whether it's a rebirth or a decent into senility is yet to be seen.

A fate similar to that of the dinosaurs awaits the old guard. Big state, big promises, top down Labour. People like Peter Hain. They know what's coming too. You can see it on their faces in Cardiff, in Westminster and in our Local Councils.

MH said...

Don't criticize people for things they can't do anything to change, Siônnyn. In terms of appearance the only thing it's fair to mock Peter Hain for is his rather strange choice of skin tone.

But by all means criticize him for what he says and does ... especially when the two don't match.

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And I agree with Anon that Labour are on their last legs in their present form. Because the focus is on Westminster for the election in May the dinosaurs in the Labour party will limp into it in the same way as they always have. Even if we do well (which I hope we will) and the Tories do well (which I hope they won't) Labour could still hold on to 20 seats.

But the big change will come afterwards. With Labour in opposition in Westminster, Labour in Wales will have a much freer hand. If they are bold they could reinvent themselves as a party with very different values from Labour in Westminster. But I don't think they can, and I'm not sure the party bosses in Westminster would let them even if they wanted to ... so they'll pay for it in May 2011. Can't wait.

Anonymous said...

I suppose the term 'Welsh' is redundant in NuLabour/NuPlaid speak. 'People of Wales' LOL!

terence said...

If you want to know about the odious Hain follow the link.

http://why-we-are-white-refugees.blogspot.com/2010/03/dangerous-liberals-double-standards.html

Siônnyn said...

MH - I didn't mean my description of his physique as a criticism. However, taken as a metaphor for his character, and his baffling self belief, it most definitely is meant as a criticism.

Siônnyn said...

MH - agree with you on the Race and equal rights - and activist in that myself once, when I was younger. And to be fair, he has suffered, without complaining , at first hand, for those beliefs and actions.

It is therefore my sense of disappointment - betrayal even - at the contrast between his principled, courageous past and his cynical, craven present, that has made me so bitter towards him.

Siônnyn said...

Oh, and I do so agree that we have to be careful who we call friends, having read Terrence's shameful link!

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