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Can I help you madam?

Betsan Powys | 12:57 UK time, Friday, 3 April 2009

Now that you've mastered d'Hondt and forgotten more than you ever needed to know about the New Zealand model of governance, have a go at this. It's the "Spaghetti Bolognese theory" of why granting primary law-making powers to the Assembly is a no-brainer.

First heard at a fringe meeting at the Plaid conference this morning, it's a product of Plaid's very own "two-brains" and Tomorrow's Wales leading light, Cynog Dafis.

It goes like this:

Shopkeeper: Can I help you madam?
Mrs Jones: I'll have some carrots, potatoes and a few parsnips for my dinner please.
Shopkeeper: No problem. Anything else?
Mrs Jones: Yes. I'd like some mince please.
Shopkeeper: What do you want it for?
Mrs Jones: Why do you need to know that? I haven't worked out my menus yet.
Shopkeeper: Well I need to know. I'm not handing it over until you tell me.
Mrs Jones: Well ... maybe I'll make spaghetti bolognese.
Shopkeeer: No, sorry. You'll have to make Shepherd's Pie - or the mince stays here.
Mrs Jones: But I don't like Shepherd's Pie ...

We break off as the Shopkeeper, played by the Welsh Affairs Select Committee and Mrs Jones, played by the Assembly (on behalf, of course, of all those Mrs Joneses out there who want to decide for themselves what to have for dinner) try to strike a deal before the mince goes off. Let's hope they have better luck with Italian dishes than Boris Johnson did with his lasagne of grit and snow.

Moving from Part 3 of the Government of Wales Act to Part 4, say Tomorrow's Wales, is no more than common sense. To persuade a majority of voters in a referendum of that argument, they are about to launch a campaign to pave the way for a Yes campaign, the "400m sprint for the line" as Rhodri Morgan described it yesterday. They intend to appoint a development officer who'll set up a network of groups on the ground, thoughout Wales, who will go out and sell that common sense argument.

Their instructions will be along these lines:

You will not panic every time True Wales are quoted in the paper
You will not give ammunition to the opposition (a direct dig at Plaid's decision to launch a website to spell out the advantages of independence)
You will make the message louder, clearer and do what the Convention has not succeeded in doing: explaining to people the complexities of the current system and why a Yes vote in a referendum would lead to better, more effective policies, delivered sooner, for the people of Wales.

Unfortunately for Plaid someone else has put 'mince' and 'ammo' together this morning and put a shot across the bows of those who support further devolution. The CBI may not yet have come across the Spaghetti Bolognese theory but their Director, David Rosser, doesn't mince his words:

"Of all the constituencies comprising Welsh society, the business community is the most exposed to differences between legislative and regulatory framework in Wales and that applying in the rest of the UK. It is imperative that 'Wales being different for business' equals 'Wales being better for business'. However, there is an overwhelming view among our members that politicians and civil servants do not fully understand the business consequence of their decisions and, as a result, the Assembly has yet to prove itself to the business community in Wales. Therefore, we do not therefore believe that a referendum would be appropriate at this time."

As ammunition goes, No campaigners will be pretty happy with that.


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