Please sir, can we have some more?

If you read the Government of Wales Act, really read it, you get the sense that the evolution of the assembly into a law-making body is a practical inevitability.

In fact, you get the sense that the legislative purgatory in which the institution currently finds itself is ludicrously arbitrary. When a child begs and begs for an ice cream, you don't snatch it away before it gets a chance to eat the cone.

Much depends, of course, on how the assembly deals with its present extension in powers. But given the cross-party will for an assembly which creates proper 'acts', and which does so independently of the Secretary of State, I would be surprised if this wasn't put to a referendum before the next full term begins.

If anything, the debate over independence in Scotland has made people realise quite how limited our devolved agreement is. Even Northern Ireland out-powers us (though it must be said that ill-feeling in the province is nothing compared to the troubled relationship between certain Plaid Cymru and Labour members). And so, Welsh pride takes another beating. The question 'Are we somehow lesser people than the Scots?' was wondered aloud frequently during the pre-election debate programmes.

I think it will be difficult to resist activating the referendum clause in the Government of Wales Act (though it first requires a two-thirds majority in the Senedd and in parliament). After all, you wouldn't buy yourself tickets to see Madonna and then leave them on the shelf.

The question, then, is when? And there are plenty of options. We could nip it in the bud and have it at the same time as the local elections next year or even the European elections the year after. Or we could have it at the same time as the next general election to encourage maximum participation or at the same time as the next assembly election, for the sake of convenience.

Whatever happens, I don't think it will be long before the assembly is making decisions without Peter Hain's approval. Which is why Plaid Cymru shouldn't sell their soul to win a referendum in the current coalition/agreement negotiations. By 2011, it will be almost impossible for the government to deny Welsh people a say on the way forward. And I believe they will say yes, providing the politicians don't cock it up in the meantime.

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posted by Blamerbell @ 11:41 am,

33 Comments:

At 12:51 pm, Blogger Glyn Davies AM said...

Good post. I agree in principle - but not on the timetable. It will be after next Assembly election. The two thirds majority will see to that. Probably post on this myself.

Will remove the am appendage when daughter Sally gets around to it

 
At 2:00 pm, Blogger WelshRyan said...

Your right. A more powerful assembly is inevitable and a referendum can't be too far ahead into the future. That is unless the AMs make a complete mess of government between now and when the decision is made.

 
At 2:48 pm, Blogger Blamerbell said...

I think the message from the people is sooner rather than later.

They voted for two parties that were committed to a referendum, another which secretly supports one but didn't have the balls to put it in their manifesto, and another who put it in the GWA so they could 'deliver' it at a later date.

Welsh people look at themselves and think they're every bit as good as the Scottish. And quite right too.

 
At 11:36 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do we have to have a referendum?

Outside the bubble most people have contempt for politicians and I can see a no vote just as a slap in the face for a political class that is failing to address the problems that ordinary folk face.

 
At 12:19 am, Blogger Blamerbell said...

"Do we have to have a referendum?"

Yes. Unless a Gordon Brown or a David Cameron government repeals the Government of Wales Act.

 
At 12:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

/Yes. Unless a Gordon Brown or a David Cameron government repeals the Government of Wales Act. /

Very worrying. Gordon Brown will be a disaster for Labour, as Major was to the Tories and Kinnock to Labour in the late 80s/early 90s.
He is not a Leader and no amount of spin will make him one. Brown has never had much interest in Wales.

Maybe Wales should really have a Rainbow coalition to ensure we keep our political identity. Or am I naive?

 
At 12:53 am, Blogger Blamerbell said...

Or are you Glyn Davies in disguise???

 
At 12:53 am, Anonymous johnny foreigner said...

Just remember those magic words.....tax varying powers........Now we all know what that means, don't we?

A self-governing Wales can never fund itself.

I really can't see England continuing to prop-up the Welsh economy without a substantial say in how their money is spent.

This constant lust for further devolved powers is going to cost a lot more than we have in the biscuit tin.

 
At 1:19 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

very interesting point about Gordon Brown. Is there a reasoning behing having an alternative government for the sake of keeping Labour in check and scrutinising their work at a Westminster level?

 
At 7:16 am, Anonymous bryn coch said...

no inevitability at all about it. the conferring of further powers is, ultimately, a matter for Peter Hain, who is gatekeeper to the new legislation. he won't hand any over new powers of significance to a minority Labour administration. and when the Tories win the next general election, they are unlikely to want to transfer any more either.

and even if there were a referendum (the wording of which is not specified in the act) there is no guarantee the people of Wales would vote for any more powers. the assembly is still very unpopular in much of Wales, particularly the north, apart from fortress Gwynedd

 
At 8:11 am, Anonymous Daran said...

"I really can't see England continuing to prop-up the Welsh economy without a substantial say in how their money is spent."

This isn't an issue for tax varying powers. The current system allows the Assembly on budgetary autonomy on most of its £14bn annual expenditure.

The tax varying is a real argument that needs to be had - but it's not the one about how the Assembly spends its current funding, but rather how it might be funded in the future.

 
At 12:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blamerbell said...
"Or are you Glyn Davies in disguise???"

Not when I last looked;-)

There is definately a powerful hope (if such a thing can exist) in Labour that the next Leadership will take it back to the left. Hattersley in an interview on BBC24 said he thought Brown talks of it. But the evidence is that Brown was the right hand man in New Labour and had a pivotal role in the major changes of the last decade. It would be foolish to think he is going to change now. IMO the only difference will be he will keep a lower media profile.
And there will be even more secretive government and more witheld information.

Did we vote Peter Hain to make major decisions on our behalf? He is not even Welsh, only came to Wales because some toff in Labour found him a safe seat. We will soon see how New Labour defines democratic.

 
At 2:11 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

johnny foreigner said...
//Just remember those magic words.....tax varying powers........Now we all know what that means, don't we?
A self-governing Wales can never fund itself.//

Then why are we funding Westminster and Europe very generously?

A lot of revenue raised in Wales is not spent here. The arithmetic has been done and it is possible. But we need the right caliber of politicians to manage it.

Look at Southern Ireland. There is money available beyond London to chenge Wales. We just need the courage to make the first step to move ahead to the future.

How do you feel about your hard earned taxes being given to Northern Ireland instead of being spent in Wales?

 
At 2:52 pm, Anonymous johnny foreigner said...

We are supposed to be a United Kingdom and this unity is our strength. This Unity has produced our prosperity and security. Any attempt to bring about full independence fills me with foreboding particularly in view of the performance to date of the Assembly. What a bunch of lightweight amateurs, consisting mainly of jumped up local councillors and political apparatchiks all snouting away merrily in the trough. I really don't think that we can afford this flagrant self-aggrandizement for much longer.

Notwithstanding the very limited achievements of the Assembly the disproportionate costs of these 'achievements' clearly demonstrate what were're in for.....Tax Varying Powers....

You have been warned.

 
At 3:16 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Johnny Foreigner, being ruled by England was OK when England was ruled by its French descended aristocracy. Trouble is that all this democracy rot has put the Anglo-Saxon peasant class into power - with their porcine features, their banal obsessions with house prices and new cars, their contempt for culture and personal hygiene.

So stuff your United Kingdom, Wales and Scotland will go it alone and leave you to blunder about in the fetid swamp of your own loud-mouthed ignorance.

 
At 5:02 pm, Anonymous johnny foreigner said...

Anonymous said...
Dear Johnny Foreigner, being ruled by England was OK when England was ruled by its French descended aristocracy. Trouble is that all this democracy rot has put the Anglo-Saxon peasant class into power - with their porcine features, their banal obsessions with house prices and new cars, their contempt for culture and personal hygiene.

So stuff your United Kingdom, Wales and Scotland will go it alone and leave you to blunder about in the fetid swamp of your own loud-mouthed ignorance.

3:16 PM




So, as I understand it, you disagree with me.

Is your response for real? Is this the best that you can do?

Your obvious Nationalistic fervour merely re-enforces my concerns.

Exactly who would you suggest rules Wales? The Assembly? Plaid Cymru? Mike German? Alan Pugh? Nick Bourne? Ieuan-Wyn Jones? Do me a favour.

You are obviously a great fan of Saunders Lewis who sided with Fascists and Nazis and attempted to prevent English children being evacuated to Wales. He preferred to see them bombed. Some of us have long memories of Welsh Nationalism.

Wales is a beautiful country populated by a majority of very fine people. Unfortunately, there are some dark and misty hollows wherein reside some hobbit-like creatures who wish to see Wales reduced to some sort of Balkanised State constantly at odds with its neighbours.

My warning still stands.

Word verification :- waabuse. Spooky?

 
At 5:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What a bunch of lightweight amateurs, consisting mainly of jumped up local councillors and political apparatchiks all snouting away merrily in the trough. I really don't think that we can afford this flagrant self-aggrandizement for much longer."

Most would agree with you on the quality of politicians. Maybe this was the first elections when parties did not have to scrape around for candidates so we still see some with a local government mentality who have managed to get a foot on the ladder.
There were some very able and suitable candidates but the party machines appeared to be forcing the local names and issues in their quest for votes. Jobs for the boys.
There is no doubt a wealth of quality candidates waiting to stand for Welsh government, but they live out of Wales and would return if they were given the respect.

 
At 8:06 pm, Anonymous mabon said...

deciding on welsh independence can only be done at the time of the question, and for me will be made on whether it is in mine, my family and the wider welsh peoples interest. To be honest I only see the Uk as united in our military and foreign policy outlook.
If we want independence to work and to pay for itself we can, a can do attitude and taking a lead from other small nations. The economic argumnet is spurious.
As for the quality of our AM, s, yes generally it is poor, Daf Wig (and Glyn Davies) missing out is a travesty, but do you think the 600 odd in westminster are all top notch. Watch some of the lesser debates away from the front benches, shocking too.
And give saunders lewis a break, its hardly comparable with Plaid today, and besides throwing Nazi barbs around is a bit dangerous when you look at english, and particularly royal, nazi sympathisers.

 
At 8:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone read Patriotism Perverted by Richard Griffiths, a very good book about the Right Club and the anti-war movement in England in 1940. What surprised me was how many of the pro-Hitler anti-semites came to fascism from the political left especially the Labour Party, rather than the Tory right as I would have expected.

Throw in the fact that Mosley was sharing platforms in 1940 with the Peace Pledge Union, the animal rights movement of the day as well as the ILP, all of whom seemed happy enough to blame the war on the Jews and things seem fairly similar to today's anti-war crowd.... although I think the common term of abuse now is Zionist rather than Jew.

Anyway I know that the Nat bashers like to paint Saunders Lewis rather unfairly as some kind of Nazi, but the fact is people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

 
At 8:28 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't Nye Bevan a keen supporter of Mosley in their Labour Party days, one of the handful of MPs who came out in support of Mosley's memorandum, whose rejection led to him quiting Labour for his New Party.

 
At 10:10 pm, Anonymous dave rodway said...

Yes, and you might want to add to this debate the fact that Sidney and Beatrice Webb, big Labour intellectruals and Fabians, were prominent in the eugenics movement and advocated the sterilisation of 'inferior' human specimens.
At least Saunders Lewis took back his anti-semitism well before the truth Nazis came out, and actually was somethign of a philosemite by the end. See his plays, though some of his poems have anti-jewish images, so do TS Eliot's.
Disliking being assimilated by the the English is a rather different thing from racism or nazism.
No-one tells you that in the Transport House on-message lessons.
Oh, and MOsley was in fact a Labour party member and MP, and minister in a Labour government. Still, it must the nasty welsh,in our 'primitive hollows' who are fascists around here!
So grateful to have sensible historically aware people like JF to keep us on the straight and narrow.
Tugging the forelock as ever,
DR

 
At 12:31 am, Anonymous johnny foreigner said...

At the severe risk of thread hi-jack (kindly pardon me please Blamerbell), the matter of Saunders Lewis and his use of the fate of innocent children to further his political ends disgusts me and will forever taint Plaid notwithstanding their nationalistic aspirations.

I am aware of the dubious associations of many of our politicians past and present and completely abhor the activities previously mentioned.

I am a realist and a pragmatist and having observed the machinations of the nationalist cause over the years I am far from convinced of their openness and honesty. Their use of words like 'force' 'insist' and 'compel' with regard to proposals in their previous manifestos causes me some concerns.

I wish that the nationalists would have the guts to just come out and call themselves the Welsh Nationalist Party as the Scots did. Instead they still hide behind the euphemistic Plaid Cymru and continually fudge their policies in the hope that they can lull the electorate into a false sense of security.

The SNP has had some recent success on the basis of their declared wish for independence but Plaid still shilly-shallies and avoids the "I" word with fervour.

Unfortunately the spectre of Saunders Lewis as their founder and his hatred of the English and particularly their children will haunt Plaid Cymru until they become an honest party of nationalism and base their arguments purely on merit and not hatred.

Their divisive policies always seem to me to have a hint of nastiness about them. JMHO.

 
At 12:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

johnny foreigner said...
//Unfortunately the spectre of Saunders Lewis as their founder and his hatred of the English and particularly their children will haunt Plaid Cymru until they become an honest party of nationalism and base their arguments purely on merit and not hatred.//

Politics is a science of the here and now and while it's dangerous to ignore history it serves for lessons to learn.
Wales now has schools full of English and multi-cultural children, all learning the welsh language and no problems accepting them.
It is always action that speaks loudest.

 
At 12:58 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a slightly divergent note...

We continue to complain that the calibre of politicians here is low while criticising anyone who is not a Welsh speaker. By discouraging such a large number of people from joining the political classes we reduce the pool drastically. No wonder we get the dregs we have when speaking Welsh is considered more important than actually caring about your constituents. I am not disparaging the Welsh language- I believe it should be given official language status along with English, but there are a lot of Welsh people who don't speak Welsh- who will represent them?

There is a letter in the WM today saying that only people born in Wales or of proven Welsh descent should be able to vote for the Assembly- WHAT??! It is little wonder that nationalists are looked on with a mixture of bemusement and contempt when they spout this kind of rubbish. Do I have to wear a yellow star if one of my grandparents is English?

 
At 1:29 pm, Anonymous dave rodway said...

Not quite what the letter said. The letter asks about how much 'welsh' elections express 'welsh views' when so many people here come from one country, England, a country itself reluctant to accept immigrants and which largely refuses to learn any other languages.
We can read you know!
It doesn;t propose anything like what you say it does.
Not sur eabout yellow stars but a dunce's cap would do the trick

 
At 1:40 pm, Blogger Pads said...

"It is little wonder that nationalists are looked on with a mixture of bemusement and contempt when they spout this kind of rubbish."

It is not Plaid Cymru spouting this kind of rubbish. At least 3 Plaid AMs were born outside Wales, and 3 can't barely speak Welsh beyond "shwmae".

And you know full well, anonymous, that it was Plaid who delivered the first ethnic minorty AM.

 
At 6:17 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't the Danes have some kind of opt out of the Maastricht Treaty which allows them to discriminate against Germans in the second homes market? If Wales was independent I'd certainly hope to see something similar here - not racist at all just a common-sense solution to the problem of a small culture living cheek by jowl with a much bigger neighbour.

 
At 6:18 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't Janet Ryder Plaid's first ethnic minority AM?

 
At 8:25 pm, Anonymous dave rodway said...

I love the idea of the English being a disadvantaged minority in Wales. They are on the ocntrary a powerful and wealthy minority, who in their own country spend time finding ways to stop others from moving there (what's the 1st thing New Laboru does when Europe enlarges? Find ways of stopping east europeans from coming to live in teh UK...)
I read a letter published in one of our national newspapers that being english in Walses was like being 'black in the American south'. I can see it now, Martin Luther King reminding his peopel of the historical injustice of their lot by invoking their brothers and sisters in oppression, the English in Wales...
Bollocks.
All we're asking is for the people who move to culturally fragile areas such as the Fro Gymreag to learn the language! If that makes us racist then we await a visit from the police.
Or at any rate a lynch mob headed by Huw Lewis.
DR

 
At 9:51 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
//On a slightly divergent note...
.....No wonder we get the dregs we have when speaking Welsh is considered more important than actually caring about your constituents. I am not disparaging the Welsh language- I believe it should be given official language status along with English, but there are a lot of Welsh people who don't speak Welsh- who will represent them?//

Welsh is already an official language. It is taught in every school in Wales and there is a growing demand for more welsh language schools. Most of the parents sending their children to first language welsh schools are English or other first language. They learn Welsh to be able to keep up with their children.

Of course there are some Welshmen who do not speak Welsh. I've never felt uncomfortable in front of a monoglot Sais, but I do resent it if they try to stop me speaking Welsh to another Welsh speaker because they have not taken the trouble to try and understand some of the language.

BTW, the Welsh learners classes in central London are very very popoular.

 
At 1:25 pm, Blogger Pads said...

/Wasn't Janet Ryder Plaid's first ethnic minority AM?/

As a Mackem? lol!

What about Helen Mary as the first Essex girl? (formerly Boudicca country)

 
At 3:03 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous@9.51 AKA Johnny Foreigner - yes you are a foreigner and no doubt you're pissed off that your UKIP friends had such a pathetic vote. Carry on bitching, you remind me why I signed up for a Welsh Republic in the first place.

 
At 8:10 pm, Anonymous johnny foreigner said...

Anonymous said...
anonymous@9.51 AKA Johnny Foreigner - yes you are a foreigner and no doubt you're pissed off that your UKIP friends had such a pathetic vote. Carry on bitching, you remind me why I signed up for a Welsh Republic in the first place.

3:03 PM


Not me pal. I'M johnny foreigner and unfortunately for you I am as Welsh as any one in Wales. Born and bred and have spent most of my life in wholehearted contribution to Wales.

The tone of your response indicates to me that you, on the other hand, are some kind of deranged Nationalist Republican with a spectacularly poor grasp of cogent or reasoned discussion.

Kindly return to your dark and misty hollow and learn how to behave in polite society.

BTW I'd sooner vote for The Monster Raving Loony Party than UKIP.

I am a Welsh person who delights in the concept of the UK remaining united as this unity has been the source of our prosperity and security.

United we stand. Divided we surely fall.

Any sensible response would be more than welcome.

 

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