As expected, the referendum on devolution of income tax powers to Wales was addressed in First Minister's Questions yesterday. This is the Wales Today report:
Carwyn Jones made the assertion that a referendum on income tax powers was at present unwinnable, but might be winnable at some point in the future. This is a completely ridiculous thing for him to say. The survey evidence shows that most people in Wales already want income tax powers to be devolved.
This is a graphic from an ICM poll for the Silk Commission published in July 2012, click it to see a larger version. The full document is here.
64% want income tax powers devolved to Wales. Interestingly, the percentage is substantially higher for women than men, for younger adults than older adults, for Welsh-speakers than non-Welsh-speakers, and for those who see themselves as Welsh rather than British. Yet in every single category there is a clear margin in favour of setting Welsh rates of income tax.
For what it's worth, the document says that this finding is consistent with previous research that has been conducted by ICM and other polling organizations. I'm not aware that there have been many surveys that have specifically asked about income tax, but these two surveys should be helpful:
At present, the Welsh Assembly has no tax raising powers. Which one of these statements comes closest to your view?
It should have the power to increase or reduce all taxes in Wales ... 28%
It should have the power to vary some, but not all taxes in Wales, within limits agreed by the UK Government in Westminster ... 36%
It should not have the power to increase or reduce any taxes in Wales ... 32%
Don't know ... 4%
Should the Welsh Government have the power to vary income tax, in your opinion?
Yes ... 46%
No ... 36%
Don't know ... 17%
The BBC question is rather vague, but some taxes "within limits agreed by the UK Government" would include income tax, because the UKG has in fact now agreed to us having the ability to set Welsh rates of income tax if we vote for it.
If people are aware of any other surveys, I'll be very happy to add them.
This evidence shows that there is absolutely no foundation for Carwyn Jones to claim that the referendum on income tax powers is unwinnable. But the tragedy is that we've heard it all before. It's exactly the same line that Peter Hain used when he kept claiming that the referendum on primary lawmaking powers was unwinnable.
It shows that Labour are completely out of touch with what people in Wales actually think.