All five say Yes

It is interesting to see that all five would-be leaders of the Labour Party have said they are in favour of a Yes vote in the referendum on primary lawmaking powers for the Senedd.


     'Ie i fwy o bwerau' medd pump
     Labour leader hopefuls back extra Welsh Assembly powers

As recently as last year this was still a burning "issue" on which the Labour Party were split. But now everything has changed. I wonder what someone like Paul Murphy—who is used to joust with Don Touhig for the dubious prize of being the MP most against any further devolution to Wales—makes of that? He supports Ed Miliband, and Ed Miliband wants a Yes.

What of many of the rest who were at best lukewarm about it? They all support a candidate who wants Wales to have primary lawmaking powers. So will they now fall into line? I think even those who will do it through gritted teeth are hardly the sort who would put their head above the parapet on the issue.

The simple fact is that the Welsh public want a Senedd with primary lawmaking powers ... by a margin that is widening all the time, and currently stands at almost two-to-one in favour of a Yes. Now that it is clear that the tide is moving in only one direction, what Labour MP would want to stand against it?

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Anonymous said...

So, why are we bothering with a Referendum at all?

The referendum isn't giving us any new competences so can't we just go straight to the law-making powers post 2011 election?

MH said...

I'm afraid it's necessary because that's the hurdle that Peter Hain put in the way in the GoWA 2006 when he watered-down the recommendations of the Richard Commission. As I've said on many occasions, I think the primary motivation was to slow things down as much as possible. Perhaps he wanted a situation where Scotland got even further ahead, so that we in Wales would feel that we wouldn't be able to catch up.

But it is going to make for a strange referendum if none of the elected political parties is going to campaign for a No. The anti-devolution Tory MPs are busy hiding themselves behind barriers of neutrality. David Davies is indicating that, as chair of the WASC, he won't campaign against. David Jones will use his position in the Wales Office as grounds to be neutral. At this rate, the referendum might be a walk-over.

Anonymous said...

well there's no question that a healthy majority for more powers will give the welsh assembly..and the whole issue of devolution for wales itself.....added legitimacy as there are alas still those....admittedly a dwindling minority....who dont want any devolution for wales and would like to see the assembly abolished..certainly the bulk of true wales activists and supporters would seem to fit into that category!

Where things seem to be markedly different this time round from '97 and certainly from'79 is that there doesnt appear to be a ready made group of welsh labour mps..or other influential welsh labour figures....who the anti-devolutionists can rely upon to torpedo devolution for wales...or to scare people sufficiently into voting no!.....indeed it looks unlikley that there will be a single sitting welsh labour mp who will be supporting the no campaign. Even the former islwyn mp don touhig has given true wales short shrift!

Neil kinnock has indicated in the past his opposition to primary law making powers for the welsh assembly...while kim howells is also regarded as being hostile ...but at present theres no sign of even these two 'devosceptics' throwing their lot in with a No campaign - but that of course could change when the referendum begins in earnest!

So it is looking increasingly likely that the No campaign will be largely a combination of the gwent based true wales and ukip...a decidely narrow and weak base from which it is difficult to see them appealing to enough voters in wales to win the referendum!

But theres no room for complacency..we have to fight for every vote..and continue to make the case for primary law making powers for the welsh assembly right up until the polls close on....march 31st..or whenever it is in march!

Leigh Richards

EagleDragon said...

Hardly surprising though isn't it. Of course what about Paul Murphy, the Kinnocks etc? Labour could very well regain their majority in the Assembly next year it so of course would be in their best interest to do so.

MH I have a question for you? We also have an AV referendum next year, if this is won would it automatically apply to the Scottish Parliament & Welsh Assembly or just Westminster? If law-making powers is won could a Labour majority WAG have the power to reject such a proposal?

On a UK level the tories oppose any kind of electoral reform whereas many in Labour seem in faovur. I can imagine here in Wales this would be the other way around?

Anonymous said...

one or two of them believe in devolution im sure, but the rest are probably supporting more powers because there is strong chance of Labour being the largest party and governing alone in Wales after 2011 and as opposition leader they want as much power as they can lay their grubby little hands on, while they are out of power in Westminster.

Even Welsh Labour die hards can grasp that principle.

MH said...

I agree with pretty much everything Leigh said, particularly that we mustn't be complacent. But I think the way we fight is going to have to reflect the fact that there isn't any serious opposition. We have to move from trying to persuade (there isn't really an argument to win, because there isn't any opposition) to trying to reassure. It's a bit like the way "big brands" do advertising. They're not primarily trying to win customers, they're more trying to show that they are looking after the customers they've got.

I think the biggest problem will be that it will become so obvious that we'll get a Yes vote, that people don't turn out because there's no need for them to. We'll get a 67% to 33% vote, but on a low turnout of less than 50%.


ED. No it wouldn't ... at least not according to what Clegg said yesterday. I agree that it would seem logical to hold the constituency vote for Wales and Scotland on AV rather than FPTP as well, but it would complicate things ... for there are bound to be some people who would want that as a way of getting rid of the regional lists.

The real prize would be to get STV for the Senedd (and Holyrood) and the precedent is that Stormont is already elected by STV. I think there is a real chance of getting that now, and therefore I fear that changing the current system a little bit will preclude the bigger change we really want.

It would be a tricky balance between principle and pragmatism. The Labour Party want to keep FPTP in Wales, because it gives them such a huge advantage. Therefore we will not get any change unless it is imposed on us by Westminster. I think it is inevitable that we will get a new Government of Wales Act within a few years, which will give us some borrowing and tax-setting powers rather than for us to continue to rely totally on the block grant. We would have to change the current Act anyway because of fewer Westminster MPs, and look again at the total number of AMs. So I'd expect a GoWA 2012, 2013 or 2014 to be in place in time for the 2015 election. If we're lucky, it will be elected by STV. Failing that, it would be AV for the constituencies (assuming this AV referendum is successful, which looks likely from this poll) but with a larger proportion of regional seats. If any part of the House of Lords is elected, it will probably be on STV as well.


CoP. Yes, that's what I've been saying for the past few years. Labour were not in favour of primary lawmaking powers while they were in control at Westminster, because it gave them a "double lock" on what the Assembly could do. As soon as they realized that they would lose control at Westminster, they switched to being in favour of primary lawmaking powers. It was only ever a question of waiting for the right moment.

Anonymous said...

I dont see why if they have ATV at Westminster, why it should be applied to the Senedd - afetr all we already have AMS which is a huge improvement on FPTP although not as good as STV. I cant see any logic in combing AV with an AMS..just downright confusing.


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